Kids photos are great! They show without big words how colorful, funny, exciting and chaotic everyday life with children can be. Thanks to smartphones, beautiful moments can be captured easily and quickly and shared with family and friends. In a few seconds the cute snapshot of the baby with the first porridge on his face is over Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp shared
What parents find cute and share with the world can have quite unpleasant consequences for children (later). Even if you as a parent like all the photos of your child, put yourself in your child’s shoes! You probably don’t like yourself in every photo either. From the point of view of children’s rights, photos of children on the Internet are questionable, because too often they are posted without their consent. Just like adults, children have a right to privacy (Art. 16, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) and the right to their own image, and thus the freedom to decide for themselves in principle what and how much they reveal about themselves.
Do not underestimate the fact that information and images are quickly spread on the net and can be found easily and for an unlimited period of time. Although a photo is deleted from the profile or blog, the shots may continue to circulate. Others can copy, alter and redistribute them. Children’s images can be misused for pedophile purposes or unflattering images can increase the risk of cyberbullying. It is therefore all the more important that you, as adults, deal consciously and considerately with your child’s personal rights on the Internet.
No, it doesn’t have to mean that! Children are part of our society and therefore they should be visible – also in the digital world. The decisive factor is how children are portrayed: In which situations can you see your child in the photo? Can you see the face clearly? Who can see photos when you post them? If you follow a few rules, there’s nothing wrong with sharing a child’s photo while preserving your child’s privacy rights. Not to be forgotten is the child’s right to participation (Art. 12, UN CRC), which is why it is important to involve children in an age-appropriate way and obtain their consent. We have summarized specific guidance on publishing children’s photos by age group. In the links below you will find the appropriate text for your child’s age.
“Yes, Mom, I read that on the Internet!” – If so many people like it, there must be something to it…” – “Leon sent me this on WhatsApp – with a photo. That’s the proof!”
Do you know such discussions about news, where opinions differ in the family about whether they are true or not? On the Internet and in social networks, we encounter countless news items, reports and stories every day. They come from the TV news, the daily newspaper, people from the sports club or well-known people. Many are spread by rather unknown people on the Internet and through messengers. Mixed in with this are news sites and senders who deliberately want to manipulate with lies or half-truths. They deliberately spread disinformation, Rumors or hateful reports that are intended to unsettle us.
It is not only children and young people who find it difficult to distinguish trustworthy posts from fake news. This is because they are often “disguised” as serious news and appear very genuine. This can be problematic when it comes to political contributions with extremist or populist background and conspiracy theories be disseminated. Also, content that may be unsettling or frightening, especially to younger children, are problematic
Learn more about the difference between disinformation, false news and sartire in our article about it.
Disinformation circulates especially when many people are uncertain anyway and even experts or politicians have no answers to all questions – for example, during the Corona crisis and during the Ukraine war. Fake news often provides the answers you want and can help deal with uncertainty. But unfortunately they are not true! Questions like “Are the vaccines safe, too?” or “Where does the virus come from?” are answered incorrectly with inappropriate facts and figures. The problem with this is that the more often such articles are clicked on, the more often they are displayed and believed to be true. That’s why it’s important to know that even though many people read the news, it doesn’t have to be true.
But how can children, young people and adults recognize whether they can trust a message or an article? Most of the time it helps to listen to your own feeling and briefly consider whether the message can really be true. The following tips will help you and your child find out if it is indeed a hoax:
Where was the message read and who is actually behind it? Is the author known and an expert on the topic? Is it a reputable website?
Is the message found at different sources? How recent is the news? Where do the figures and data mentioned come from and in what context were they collected?
Do the content and language seem serious? It’s worth taking a look at spelling and terms used: Is emotional language and lots of capital letters used? Do you find catchwords like “lying press” or similar provocative terms? Could the article be meant satirically?
Do photos and videos match the content of the message? Are they up to date? Is there a caption and can you tell if they represent what is being described or are from another context?
A special form of fake news are so-called deep fake videos. Read more in our article!
Fake news spreads when many pass it on or tell others. Therefore, you should always consider first whether the message can really be true. Certain Internet sites (for children and adults) are considered reputable and usually disseminate only verified news. We also have some tips for you on where to check fake news and how to learn how to deal with it in a fun way:
Your child should know that not everything posted on the web or sent via WhatsApp is not necessarily true. If you check messages together, it can gradually learn to distinguish wrong from right.
The most popular messenger, even among children and teenagers, is WhatsApp. This is because communication is practical and easy, and many other people use it. Unfortunately, there are also a few negative sides to the popular service.
WhatsApp is a free messenger. After downloading, registration with a cell phone number is required. After that, profile picture and profile name can be assigned.
The main function of WhatsApp is to send messages to people from your own contacts (address book) who also use the app. These can be text and voice messages, images, videos or the live location. They can be sent either to individuals or to a whole group. Among teenagers, sending emojis and GIFs is especially popular. You can respond to individual messages with emojis.
Video calls with individuals or in groups are also possible in WhatsApp. Self-deleting messages can be sent, which automatically disappear from the device after seven days. And there is the possibility to send photos and videos that may be viewed only once and then disappear. Chats can also be archived.
Young people like to use the app because it allows them to quickly get in touch with acquaintances and family members, since almost everyone has WhatsApp installed. Teachers and classmates in class chats, grandparents as well as friends in other countries are just a click away. Users know when their contacts were last online. Via the profile picture and the so-called status they can share impressions from their life (similar to Instagram ). Fast communication via voice messages is particularly popular among young people.
Via messengers such as WhatsApp, we are virtually constantly reachable. However, the read receipt function in particular (two blue check marks on a message) can put young people under pressure to always reply directly. Even though hundreds of messages are sometimes exchanged daily in a class chat, this can overwhelm and stress children and young people. In addition, fakenews is often spread via these channels.
Pictures and messages are sent quickly. There is a risk that personal data, pictures and videos will be carelessly shared, redistributed and then, in the worst case, used for bullying. Also chain letters, sexting, dubious sweepstakes or misleading notifications can be problematic.
WhatsApp accesses a lot of the user’s information, such as the entire contact list in the cell phone. This is how contact data of others gets to WhatsApp and other people without being asked beforehand.
WhatsApp, just like Instagram , belongs to the Meta group (formerly Facebook ). The GTCs in force since 2021 inform that user data will also be passed on to companies for advertising purposes. There have also been rumors and plans for advertising on WhatsApp for quite some time. So far, however, these have not been implemented.
Certain security settings are supposed to improve the usage: People or phone numbers can be blocked; location tracking and read receipts can be deactivated. Users can also restrict the visibility of their own profile. Messages are exchanged in encrypted form, so they cannot be easily “hacked” by strangers. However, this only works in individual messages and when the backup – i.e. the data backup – is deactivated.
In early 2022, WhatsApp announced that group administrators will be able to delete messages from others. This function has not yet been implemented.
If your child is younger than 16, you must consent to their use of WhatsApp. Make sure your daughter or son uses Messenger responsibly. That is, educate your child about not giving out personal information to unknown people and sharing overly private photos with acquaintances. Together you can make settings for security. This can be done in the app itself, but also in the management of access rights in the Android or iOS operating system (in each case under Settings). In the app, you can set who sees what and whether or not you want to be invited to groups by strangers under the “Privacy” category. It may happen that certain functions can no longer be used if certain accesses are denied.
On Media Childproof there are video tutorials on how to safely set WhatsApp on your child’s Android smartphone or iPhone.
In addition to safety settings, you should also alert your child to potential dangers, such as cyberbullying. Messages can also remain unread for a few minutes and a reply can come later. Discuss with your child that a friendly tone should also prevail on the Internet.
If you want to use a messenger that offers more data security, read our tool descriptions for Signal and Threema .
They are among the most popular online formats among children and young people: Pranks and challenges. For example, people film themselves imitating the dances of characters from the game Fortnite. Or in the #CelebLookAlike challenge , friends are asked who looks like which famous person.
Challenges exist on almost all social networks. They are particularly popular with TikTok. Challenges can be fun and get attention for a specific cause. However, it can sometimes be dangerous when younger people in particular try to imitate certain challenges.
This Internet phenomenon probably became known through the Ice Bucket Challenge, in which participants poured a bucket of ice water over their heads to draw attention to the disease ALS. The Ice Bucket Challenge served a good cause. Challenges can also have other functions and backgrounds. People take on various challenges, record the whole thing on video and then upload it to social networks.
It’s hard to imagine TikTok without challenges. While in the beginning mainly dances or certain songs were imitated, today there are no limits. The idea behind so-called hashtag challenges is to post your own interpretation of the challenge and tag the video with the hashtag as well. These videos go viral within hours and are shared and imitated by users all over the world. Companies are also taking advantage of this by initiating hashtag challenges to gain more awareness among young people.
Some challenges are for pure entertainment. In the #LevelUpChallenge, pets are filmed overcoming certain hurdles. Other challenges pursue a good cause, like the #cleansnap challenge. Here, a place polluted by trash was to be filmed before and after the cleanup. TikTok donated for each uploaded video to the environmental protection association Wings of the ocean.
Adolescents find it exciting to compete with others and imitate things. This does not have to happen in a video, but can also be in everyday life, at home or at school. In the schoolyard, people dance or try to imitate the water bottle flip.
Certain challenges can give young users a strong sense of community and belonging. Through likes and comments, they give each other feedback and make contact with each other. Recognition and thrills are also reasons for young people to take part in challenges.
Challenges are an integral part of many social media communities and are also participated in by influencers. This encourages their young followers to join and follow the trend.
Not every challenge is harmless. There are also dangerous and risky challenges. This becomes a problem when young people are asked to imitate, unaware of the danger. Challenges that ask you to lose weight or eat things that aren’t meant to be eaten are just two examples.
“Meeting” like-minded people and the goal of proving something to themselves or getting attention are reasons why young people also get involved in dangerous challenges. So-called hoaxes are often behind these dangerous challenges. These are made up stories that are spread as a challenge. Children and young people are encouraged to engage in risky activities because something bad will supposedly happen otherwise. In the end, the hoax challenges themselves are dangerous. Read more about this in our article on chain letters.
Social media providers occasionally delete dangerous content, but that doesn’t stop other risky challenges from trending. On YouTube and TikTok it is forbidden to post such pranks and challenges. With TikTok, users receive a warning directly when supposedly risky challenge videos appear in the feed. There are also educational videos about it.
Keep an open mind about fun, harmless, or even helpful challenges. You may also want to take on such challenges together with the whole family.
Grand Theft Auto (GTA for short) is a computer game series very popular among young people. The first-person shooter is only released from 18 years – so not suitable for children and teenagers.
GTA V (5) is the latest version of the popular game series. In the fall 2021 three older parts of the GTA series (GTA 3, GTA Vice City, GTA San Andreas) were released for PC and newer consoles (
In all parts of the series, the player takes on the role of a criminal and has to complete missions and tasks in a fictional city. The character moves through a vast, open 3D world and has to commit a bank robbery or steal a car, for example. Through the First-person perspective and the realistic graphics immerse players particularly deep into the world and can feel the game is very real.
The game is also available as online multiplayer (
), where players move together in the world and communicate with each other.
Among 14 to 17 year olds, the GTA among the most popular games. The game is very exciting, because gamers can do almost anything in the game and always have to complete new, very different tasks. The competitive nature and playing together with other “like-minded people” in the online multiplayer mode makes gamers stick with it. For
there is regularly new game content that can be downloaded, such as new missions or vehicles.
Young people can experience new things in computer games. This also includes the fact that they can test and cross boundaries here – in a fictional world without consequences. With such a game, some teenagers already feel older than they actually are. They prove to themselves and each other that they can already play such a game and endure the content, even if they are actually still too young.
The game sometimes depicts violence very drastically, even without it being necessary for the gameplay. Particularly problematic are Violence and Torture scenes and the questionable portrayals of women. For this reason, the USK comes to a Age rating of 18 years. Minors are therefore not allowed to be sold or given access to the game. Despite or because of this clear regulation, young people try to play the game and may come into contact with content and presentation that is not suitable for their age. The consequence can cause anxiety, abut also a permanently distorted image of women, for example. its.
Grand Theft Auto is one of the most successful games worldwide and is considered a cult game in the gaming scene. Since GTA V ‘s online mode is only available if you have Purchased the game and accordingly has proven his age, the provider is not obliged to take any further protective measures. As a result, retailers, online game stores and, ultimately, you as a parent are responsible for this.
Although not every child is equally and differently developed, parents should consider the Age ratings take seriously. These are determined by experienced examiners in controlled test procedures. When accessing games online, make use of the technical setting options, e.g., in the
Of course, it is impossible to completely avoid the possibility that your child may come into contact with the game through friends or other means. Talk to your child about first-person shooters and computer games if you know they are being used. Content and its impact should also be discussed and it should be made clear that not everything corresponds to social reality.
Peer pressure can also make your child eager to try the game. Confer with other parents and consider join with them a joint course of action.
Do you know Let’s Plays? These are videos in which people play games, for example on YouTube show. The Twitch.tv platform, which is very popular with children and young people, works in the same way in principle, except that here you can watch live how others play. For young gamers, the portal is a must.
Twitch is the largest livestreaming portal for streaming and watching games. The site is similar in principle to other video portals. Users can visit channels or the stream of a particular digital game. In doing so, they do not have to register.
Only registered users can broadcast the game they are playing live to an audience. They usually use webcam and microphone to comment on their own game at the same time. The chat function allows players and viewers to communicate with each other in real time. A game is often watched by more than 10,000 people. Those who have enough viewers can place advertisements. The proceeds from this will be split between Twitch and the streaming gamer. Individual channels can also be subscribed to for a fee, and there is an option to donate money to a gamer during the livestream.
The games most frequently shown on Twitch are also otherwise very popular, e.g. Fortnite , Leagues of Legend , Counterstrike and Minecraft . eSports events are also broadcast on Twitch. Most of the content on Twitch is from users, but there is also professionally produced material. Besides the main theme of games, other content is also shown on Twitch. There are streams for programming, drawing, crafting and many other everyday things.
On Twitch, young people can share their computer gaming hobby with others and experience it live from a different perspective. They can interact directly with their gaming idols and improve their skills in a particular game. For gamers it is interesting, because they can show their skills and also earn money.
Those who have access to the Internet can also use Twitch, since no registration is required to watch. Therefore, children and teenagers can watch streaming of games that are not yet suitable for them according to the age restriction. According to the terms and conditions, the offer can only be used from the age of 13 and then only with parental supervision. However, this becomes relevant at most when registering for your own streams or interacting with gamers. There is no check to see if the age entered during registration is correct.
Your child may encounter violent, scary, and sexualized content. For this reason, the Jugendschutz has classified the platform as unsuitable for children and young people.
Advertising on Twitch is difficult to detect. This is also due to the fact that more and more gamers are becoming influencers. Young users often do not recognize personal game recommendations as advertising.
The integrated donation function should also be viewed critically. When viewers transfer money to their favorite players during the livestream, the gamer comments on it at the same time. This kind of personal feedback can tempt younger users in particular to donate money using their parents’ PayPal account details.
Since users who only watch livestreams do not have to register, there is a risk, especially among young streamers, that (strange) adults will make contact and that cybergrooming will occur.
As soon as a video is clicked in which a game with age restriction is played, there is a notice. However, this can be easily clicked away.
Because of the risks mentioned, you should accompany your child when he or she uses the service, or at least talk to him or her about it regularly. Talk to him about the platform and look at it together. Research the age ratings for each game and stick to them. Also, make your child aware that as a streamer, they should not post personal information as Twitch can share it. Use the option in the settings to disable communication with strangers.
You are reading a story to your child and suddenly the phone beeps to announce a new WhatsApp message. What do you do? Do you automatically reach for your smartphone or do you read the message later when the child is asleep?
Such situations probably exist in every family. When the little son then reaches for the smartphone, it is said: “That’s not for you yet!”.
Be aware that parents and also other adults have an important role model function for children. Children experience how you, as their closest caregivers, deal with digital media and orient themselves to this. This is how children learn how the world works and how to behave in certain situations. Your behavior therefore has a major impact on how your child uses media themselves. By actively setting an example of what good media use can look like, you help your child learn to use smartphones and the like independently, sensibly and consciously.
Especially for younger children, parents are number one. It is especially important for babies and toddlers to recognize your attention through direct eye contact and to build a good bond. When dad is constantly looking at his smartphone, it’s not possible. Children, even at a young age, notice this. The older children get, the more they emulate you. In toddlerhood, they reach for daddy’s smartphone or speak into a brick that has a similar shape. They realize early on how important this device is for adults or older siblings.
Create a good basis for a reflective approach to media right from the start. Keep the smartphone on silent in your pocket when you play with your child, so that they don’t get the impression that the smartphone is always more important. Later, your child may behave the same way. If it does get pulled out, explain to your child why.
There are certainly moments when the smartphone is needed to take a nice photo of your offspring. Capture beautiful moments with the camera! But think about how often that has to be. After all, your child would rather look you in the eye than constantly at the smartphone in front of your face.
Spending time together with media is also part of family life. Introduce your child to it slowly and choose age-appropriate content. However, such media experiences should always alternate with media-free times.
Through it all, be aware of your role as a role model!
Your child also admires one or more YouTube stars and would love to watch videos all the time? Then we have a few tips on how to regulate YouTube usage in your family. Note that not every tip is appropriate for every age of child.
In all linked articles you will find more information. These can be helpful if you want to share YouTube with your family.
Telegram is a messenger service like WhatsApp , Signal Although the messenger is considered relatively privacy-protected compared to others, Telegram has come under criticism for spreading fake news and conspiracy narratives.
Telegram is a free messenger service that advertises particularly high security and speed. Anyone who wants to use the app must register once with a cell phone number by calling or texting. Afterwards, an account can be used across an unlimited number of devices. It is also possible to create a user name.
Telegram offers features like other messenger services: sending (and editing) images, videos, audio files and emojis. It can also be used to conduct surveys. Another special feature of Telegram is the creation of public groups and the subscription to (thematic) channels: Messages can be sent to an unlimited number of users, but only the channel creator and the administrators are allowed to write.
In so-called “secret chats”, messages are not stored on the provider’s servers. This is to prevent messages from being intercepted and read in any form. The “self-destruct function”, with which a message automatically disappears from the sender and recipient after a set time, also contributes to this.
As with WhatsApp you can get intouch with others quickly and free of charge via Telegram. Especially the exchange in groups makes Telegram interesting. For older teenagers, contact with like-minded people in Telegram groups could also be exciting and problematic at the same time.
Despite encryption and secret messages, the app has some pitfalls: The end-to-end encryption ensures that messages can only be read by the chat participants, but must first be activated. In addition, all communication content, with the exception of secret chats, is permanently visible to the operator and is stored on its servers.
Because of its subscribable channels and groups, Telegram is popular and criticized in equal measure. Institutions such as newspapers can use it to send out regular updates. But these groups also bring together people who exchange and spread right-wing ideas or other extreme opinions among themselves. Also listen to an episode of the youth podcast “What’s up…?”.
As with similar apps, contact risks such as sexting, cyberbullying and the spreading of so-called fake news cannot be ruled out. Registering with a username poses a particular risk: This is public, so that even people who do not have the cell phone number can contact you. The messenger also requires access to the address book and contacts are permanently stored on Telegram servers.
The Russian provider advertises data protection and privacy. In addition to the encryptions, there is, for example, the option to secure the app with code or fingerprint. Telegram is also open source, which means that anyone can see how the app is programmed and how the security measures work. The app is also to remain free of charge and advertising at all times.
Before your child uses a messenger like Telegram, you should talk to him about communication rules and possible dangers. Consider beforehand what speaks for Telegram or whether another service would be better. If it is to be Telegram , refrain from registering with a public username.
TikTok is one of the most popular apps among teenagers. It is a platform for creative short videos of all kinds.
TikTok is a social media platform and video app in one: users can choose from a colorful collection of well-known pop songs, popular audios and quotes, e.g. from movies. To do this, they “sing” or “speak” playback and film their choreography within the app with their smartphone. But also completely self-created short videos are implemented. Most videos are only 15 or 60 seconds long. Certain videos create real hype, are imitated, or continue in the spirit of a trend or challenge.
TikToker videos, whose account is public, can be viewed and commented on via a browser without having to be logged into the app. However, to create videos yourself, an account is required.
TikTok is releasing more and more features, such as filming yourself in duet with other users, continuing others’ clips (Stitch), or livestreaming. With TikTok Now, spontaneous videos can be created once a day – similar to BeReal – can be published. Companies also use the platform to advertise via it.
Young people like to use TikTok for exchanges with each other. But the most important thing for them is to have fun with it and share the coolest videos with others. ThroughTikTok, young users are entertained, look for role models to follow, portray themselves, and hope for positive feedback from others.
TikTok is also a great platform to live out your creativity. The barrier to creating and sharing your own video is low: there are plenty of video effects in the app and a music library with popular songs that can be used right away.
Children and young people appreciate the fact that TikTok is less about perfection and professionalism than Instagram. Instagram or YouTube but rather that creativity and fun are in the foreground. The videos are closer to everyday life and the TikTokers are perceived as more approachable. Especially girls from the age of 10 or 11 are enthusiastic about TikTok. As young people get older (14 or 15 and up), the app doesn’t seem as exciting.
There are a number of things you and your child should consider before using the app:
The Chinese operator ByteDance is aware of the danger of disturbing and unwanted content and is gradually adjusting its security settings. For example, a minimum age (16) was introduced for sending direct messages.
People who create and publish TikToks themselves have been able to “Filter All Comments” and share them individually for some time. Those who want to comment on the TikToks of others will be asked beforehand if this comment should really be published. There is also a reference to the community guidelines that prohibit inappropriate language and hate speech.
In the app, after registration, a red dot refers to the settings. In the safety center of the TikTok website, parents can read tips.
Accompanied mode allows parents to set specific preferences for a family member. For example, you can specify who can send your child messages and how long they can watch videos. In general, user accounts can be reported and/or blocked and there is a filter for offensive comments. However, it is questionable whether it actually works. Algorithms can’t properly contextualize and may filter out more than necessary or “overlook” comments.
TikTok has come under criticism for its moderation rules, which apparently heavily control which videos users can see.
If there is to be an account at some point, set it up together and try out the first steps together. Enter the correct year of birth so that TikTok ‘s parental control settings can take effect automatically.
Talk to your child about the potential dangers. It is especially important to pay attention to privacy and not reveal too much about yourself in the videos. More control is possible in private mode. This way, communication is possible only with friends and your child keeps track of who can see the videos. Reassure your child that he or she can turn to you at any time should he or she receive insults or be harassed. Also, show him how to block and report inappropriate content. To better protect your own privacy and that of others, a video does not necessarily always have to show your face. With the help of emoji stickers or other creative solutions, this is possible.
It is not uncommon for the use of cell phones, tablets and the like to lead to arguments in the family. Surely you are familiar with the discussions about how long the child is allowed to play on the tablet. Many parents worry that it’s unhealthy for their child to spend too much time with digital media. But at what point is way too much and constant media use already addiction?
Apart from the fun factor, there are some psychological aspects that make it hard for us to put the tablet or game console aside again. For example, many computer games, whether played on a smartphone or a console, do not have a set ending. The things we do in everyday life usually have a beginning and an end and we turn to something else after that. That’s not usually the case with games. Your child could theoretically play endlessly from level to level. Each level becomes more challenging and your child gets the ambition to pass the next level as well.
It’s a similar story with messenger services and social networks. About
etc., we are always reachable and can communicate with others quickly and easily at any time. Social networks are specially designed to keep us on the platform for a long time by always displaying (new) information through scrolling. This can also influence the mood of the users. And when your son or daughter posts a picture on Instagram and gets likes and positive comments on it, it acts like a social reward. It activates the same areas in the brain as eating candy or taking drugs.
Let me say right away: There is no such thing as an “Internet addiction”! But certain things and activities on the Internet can be addictive. However, to speak of addiction is often not correct at all, because there is more to it than spending a lot of time with one thing. If you want to know more about it, read this post from Quarks.
As a parent, you should be aware that excessive use of certain media is not uncommon among children and young people at times – for example, in times of a pandemic or during puberty. However, if your child’s behavior with certain media seems conspicuous over a longer period of time and causes you concern, you should observe your child closely and take action if necessary.
The most important tip for dealing with media is: Talk to your child about what media he or she uses and why. Show interest and stay in the conversation about what your child’s current favorite game is, what videos they like to watch, what platforms they’re on, and what’s so great about them. Sharing can prevent problematic behavior. Explain to your child what platforms like
work to keep users with them as long as possible.
If your child’s media use seems uncontrolled and too much, and your son prefers to sit in front of the screen instead of meeting friends, you should agree on fixed media times together. Extreme mood swings before, during and after using certain media or neglecting school and friends are also indicative of problematic use. It may also mean that your child is not yet ready to use media completely independently. Which is not to say that media should be off-limits. Guide your child in their use and agree on rules about when they can use what media.
If you are at a loss and your child’s problematic behavior continues, you and your child also have the option of visiting addiction counseling centers at any time.
You should also monitor and investigate whether there may be other reasons behind constant media use. For example, your child may want to distract himself from other problems by playing computer games. Seek discussion with your child and get outside help if necessary!
The German Children’s Fund’s Children’s Report 2021 also deals with media addiction and how children, young people and adults perceive excessive media use.
A life without Benjamin Blümchen, My Friend Connie and the Grüffelo is unthinkable, especially for younger children. You probably remember your own favorite cassettes or radio play CDs from your childhood. As a modern variant of the classic listening media, there are nowadays so-called listening boxes. But what exactly can Tonie, Tigerbox and Co. actually do?
Listening boxes, also called music boxes, are available from various suppliers. Depending on the manufacturer, the prices differ, but are mostly under 100, – €. When you buy a box, stories are often included. However, if you want more audio stories or songs for your child, there may be subsequent costs.
The boxes all work on a similar principle: they are child-friendly and usually designed like a cube. Above all, they are easy to use. Colorful pens or figurines in the form of animals that you plug into the audio box, or connect via Bluetooth, can play all kinds of stories. You can also get creative yourself and record (your own) stories.
Listening boxes are specially designed to meet the needs and motor skills of younger children and are designed not to break quickly. The few functions are easy to perform, so your child can operate the box independently. Selecting and starting stories themselves, pausing, stopping or exchanging them as needed – the young users can do all this on their own. Children as young as about two years old can operate the devices intuitively. This can boost your child’s self-confidence.
Some boxes offer the possibility to set a time limit. This will help your child stick to agreed upon listening times.
Audio boxes can be used to play audio games and music, whether for entertainment or to learn new things. If the stories are stored on animal figures or similar, these figures can also be used as toys.
Find out about the different listening boxes to decide which one is right for your child. What is the right shape? Are the stories stored on some kind of USB stick or does the box always have to be connected to the Internet? How much do new stories cost?
Research what age the stories you want to listen to with the box are appropriate for. Since your child can also use the listening box on his or her own, an age-appropriate selection is especially important. Also inquire about the data protection of the respective box: What private data is collected? How is the personal data of the users protected?
We present the most popular boxes in more detail on the Parents’ Guide: Tigerbox, Toniebox and Hörbert.
An audio box does not replace the togetherness of your own reading aloud: Regularly take the time to read to your child from their favorite book or listen to the audio stories from the box together.
Almost everyone knows the term. This refers to insulting, exposing or threatening people via the Internet and smartphone, e.g. via apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp or Instagram. But not every message or post on a social media profile with the content “Martin is dumb!” endangers your child’s development.
Bullying has not just existed since social media came into existence. But since almost everyone has a smartphone these days, it doesn’t stop for them when they get out of school in the afternoon. Children and young people are in quasi constant contact with each other, e.g. via class chat on WhatsApp.
Bullying is mostly cyberbullying at the same time, because some people dare to spread mean thing about others and insult them more via cell phone. Sometimes disputes or bullying start in class or in the schoolyard and get worse via communication on the net.
There are people who behave less socially on the Internet than usual. If you show your child that rules of friendly interaction also apply online, hopefully others will behave in the same way. You can talk to other parents about making certain rules apply to everyone.
When children and young people communicate with each other, there are always times when insults are used. This does not have to be bullying, but is often just a joke. They use it to test how far they can go. However, this limit is different for each child.
Regularly ask what your child is doing online, talk to him about possible risks. Be responsive when it encounters problems. Show him ways to block individual users in the apps. On portals like juuuport, your child can get in touch with peers if he or she is afraid to tell you about problems online.
If you notice that your child withdraws and no longer meets friends, you should carefully ask what is behind it. If you are concerned about being bullied, you can contact the classroom teacher. If it really is bullying, be sure to preserve the evidence on your child’s phone, such as screenshots. Certain behaviors associated with bullying – such as threatening, defaming, and disseminating photos of others – are even punishable by law.
In case of massive threats, you should definitely go to the police. You should also report bullying incidents on the platforms where they occurred.
Names like Lisa and Lena, Melina Sophie or Julien Bam come up often at your house and you know for sure that they are not friends of your child? Then your son or daughter probably has a crush on an Internet star or influencer.
Young people in particular often spend several hours a day on social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram or TikTok. In doing so, they look at videos and photos of people they don’t know personally, but about whom they nevertheless know a lot and on whom they orient themselves. These so-called influencers report on their supposed everyday life in pictures or videos and deal with topics such as fashion, beauty or gaming. Influencers often have a presence on multiple social media platforms. Athletes, models and pop stars are also active as influencers.
Fans or followers or subscribers communicate with their stars: they answer surveys, respond to calls, such as challenges, or like and comment on posts. So they feel like they are somehow connected to the influencers.
The most famous influencers have an enormous reach from thousands of followers to an audience of millions: the twins Lisa and Lena have as more than 15 million subscribers on Instagram and over 10 million followers on TikTok. YouTuber Bianca “Bibi” Heinicke from BibisBeautyPalace has 5.9 million subscribers and Julian Bam 5.7 million.
Adults often miss out on this trend. For many young people, influencers are role models and have a great influence on them – hence the term influencer. They are often the same age as their fans or just a few years older and appear to act naturally, so that their followers trust them and seek advice as if they were their big siblings.
Companies have recognized the value of influencers and use both the platforms and their stars for marketing purposes. In the photos and videos of the Instagramer one sees directly or also only “incidentally” products like beauty articles or clothes of certain brands. Companies also often use influencers to boost the credibility and popularity of a brand. What looks like a personal recommendation from a famous influencer is often advertising.
The boundaries between one’s own opinion and advertising are blurring and becoming difficult to discern. This is mainly because not all influencers mark their posts with “advertising” or “advertisement”, even though this is actually mandatory. It is unclear whether the influencer bought the product in question himself or was paid to hold it up to the camera.
Children and young people don’t necessarily realize this or take a less critical view of it, as they want to emulate their online idols and are easily influenced by them. For example, if influencers dress a certain way, kids and teens associate those brands with their stars and want to dress the same way.
It seems so easy to succeed and make money as an influencer. That’s why many children and young people want to become YouTubers or influencers themselves. But the photos and videos posted don’t show the work behind a life as an influencer.
Young followers are not only influenced by topics such as fashion and lifestyle. Influencers portray themselves in certain ways, often embellished by filters and poses. They are mostly pretty, slim, athletic and successful. You have to look hard on social media for role models who don’t look perfect and ideal. Young people hardly ever come into contact with it. You can read more about this in our article Diversity and Role Models in Social Media.
Social media platforms are also used to inform and express opinions. That’s why influencers who want to politically motivate young followers or even convince them of their extreme views also cavort there. If your child begins to take an interest in social issues such as environmental protection or equal rights as a result, this is certainly a positive thing. But there are not always good intentions behind it: Quite inconspicuously, certain influencers, e.g. in a cooking video, influence their audience by interspersing derogatory comments about certain groups of people or persons that actually have nothing to do with the video content.
Don’t judge your child’s stars. You probably also had a crush on a star as a teenager that your parents thought was stupid. You don’t have to like your child’s influencers, but should try to understand what your child likes about them. Show interest and ask which people your child follows on Instagram and Co. Together, question what the influencer is showing in the posts and what could be behind it.
It is normal to look for role models when you are in the process of developing your own personality. Encourage your child to think about it and be available as a point of contact if he or she has questions.
Our colleagues from klicksafe have summarized the phenomenon of influencers in a video by #Elterninformiert.
Digital games are a popular pastime among children and young people. People also like to play via the Internet. There are various game sites on the net where children can play, some for free and some for a fee. Playing alone or in a team promotes various skills, but so-called multiplayer games in particular also harbor dangers, such as bullying.
Many games portals that are particularly popular with children and young people, such as spielaffe.de, are financed by advertising. This is the only way they can offer the games for free. In return, children are confronted with many advertisements and links to external partners. Not every child is able to distinguish advertising from the actual content of the website and may thus unintentionally end up on other pages.
Play monkey is not made specifically for children. Not all games are suitable for every age of child, but still achievable. One problem here is that games that are offered online do not yet have to be provided with an age rating.
Younger children in particular are likely to be overwhelmed by the wide range of products and the many colorful pictures and buttons on spielaffe.de. The chat with other users is only possible after prior registration – but you can also play without registration. The section with information for parents and children on how to use the site safely is hard to find – at the very bottom left.
Even if Spielaffe does not collect data directly, data is collected and passed on via the integrated external pages, such as Facebook. The situation is similar at spielzwerg.de and spielkarussell.de. When registering, parents are not asked whether they agree that their children who are not yet of age can play here.
Many of the games offered on such portals also work with outdated gender stereotypes. There is often a category “girl games”, where you can find games about household or beauty. None of the three websites are displayed directly in a search with the fragFINN child search engine. Websites that are otherwise harmless for children can be found via fragFINN.
Despite all the risks, children and young people like to use these sites – certainly also because of the large selection of games. Try to understand your child’s fascination with these sites and show interest without ignoring the dangers. Help your child recognize advertising and agree on rules for using such sites. Install ad blockers and check out what educators have to offer and what they think. Online services such as the initiative Gutes Aufwachsen mit Medien (Growing up well with media ) or the Seitenstark community offer help here. Educationally valuable offers can be found via fragFINN and the Blind Cow, among others.