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Gaming with the games console? Of course!

“How much gaming is too much?” and “What will help my child find a healthy way of using the games console?” – Have you ever asked yourself questions like these? Technical measures to protect minors from harmful media are a building block to help your child play safely and in a balanced way on the console. Depending on the age of the child, the type of games and the device, you as parents can make different settings.

Nintendo Switch

The parental control system of the Nintendo Switch has been tested by the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) and judged to be suitable as a program for the protection of minors within the meaning of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV). With the free “Nintendo Switch age restrictions” app, you can set how much time your child is allowed to spend playing each day. You can restrict access rights to certain games and functions and receive notifications if specified limits are exceeded. You can also set the USK age rating for the game selection under “System settings > Age restrictions”. The app is available free of charge on Apple and Android devices. Current information about the app and the download links can be found on Nintendo’s youth protection pages. It is important to note that the app only works if the Nintendo Switch is running the latest software version. You can find instructions for the update here on the Nintendo website.

Xbox

The parental control system of the Xbox has been tested by the USK as a program for the protection of minors in accordance with the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media and meets the high German standards for the protection of minors in the media. On the Xbox you can limit your child’s playtime, control access to certain games and features and set monthly spending limits for digital purchases. Access to the Internet browser can be restricted to prevent visiting unsuitable websites and social media. The Xbox also enables control over online communication. You can specify who your child can chat or play with. You can define the settings on your cell phone using the “Xbox Family Settings app” by creating a child account for your child and adding them to the family group. The app is available free of charge in the app stores for Apple and Android devices. Current information about the app can be found on the Microsoft website.

Playstation

For the parental control settings on the Playstation your child needs their own account. To do this, enter a name (this can also be a nickname) and state your child’s date of birth for age checks during games. In addition, you must create a PlayStation Network account free of charge on the Playstation website. You can then add the child account to your account and manage it. On PS5 consoles, you can find the settings under “Settings > Family and parental controls > Family management”. PS4 consoles contain the settings for parental control under: “Settings > Parental Controls/Family Management > Family Management”.

You can set your child’s daily playtime on the Playstation. In addition, age restrictions can be set for content purchased online and for inserted Blu-Ray discs or DVDs. Other measures include restricting chat options and setting which content can be shared with others. You can find more information on setting up parental controls here on the Sony website.

What parents should pay attention

Many current games consoles offer user-friendly protection options, are very secure and meet high German youth protection standards if they have been set up accordingly. However, they alone do not offer one hundred percent protection. There is always the possibility that your child will come across inappropriate content with friends and on unsecured devices or come into contact with strangers. Talk to your child about the use of devices and services and be there as an open contact person for problems. Take your child’s concerns seriously and make it clear to them that they will not face any consequences if they turn to you in confidence.

Check and update the parental controls regularly to ensure that they are still appropriate and meet your child’s needs.

Discuss boundaries with your child and actively involve them in setting the parental control settings. Even if you have the last word: let your child know that you want to use the restrictions as a tool to help them learn how to use games consoles properly. Establish rules together for media use in the family that everyone adheres to. A media usage contract can help your child feel involved in the process.

You can find more up-to-date information on technical measures for various game platforms and consoles on the USK website.

Secure streaming on Netflix, Disney+ and more.

Many families no longer rely on linear television, i.e. watching what’s on. Instead, people use their smart TVs or tablets to access streaming services – whenever they have the time and the inclination to watch TV.

Kids and teens like to stream

The offer for children and young people is virtually unlimited and available at any time with streaming services and media libraries. Children watch movies and series partly on their own. This makes it all the more important to set the services so that they can only access child-friendly and age-appropriate content.

Keep track of how much your child watches. Binge-watching can also occur among children and young people if they are not accompanied in their media use.

Use parental control settings

Youth protection measures are intended to prevent children and young people from having experiences that are inappropriate for their age. These are, for example, content that may frighten or disturb them, or unwanted contact by strangers. Streaming services must use certain settings to ensure that their services are safe for children and young people to use.

Each streaming service has its own parental control settings, which are adjusted from time to time. Therefore, we can only reflect a current status (December 2022) of the most popular services in each case.

Regularly inform yourself about current functions and parental control settings of “your” streaming provider. Many have their own information portals for parents.

Amazon Prime Video

You can find the parental controls in Prime Video either in your Amazon account via the browser (Gear: Settings) or in the app under “My Area”. Here you can set up a PIN, after entering which secured content can still be viewed. In addition, purchase restrictions and playback restrictions can be activated with the parental control. Parents can create their own children’s area on Amazon with the additional paid subscription Amazon Kids+. Read more about how to set up Amazon parental controls here.

Disney+

Disney+ also allows children’s profiles to be created with a child-friendly user interface. In these, only content with age ratings from FSK 0 up to and including FSK 6 is displayed. However, it is not possible to specify preferences for certain age ratings of content. A PIN can be used to prevent the creation of new profiles. Read more on the Disney+ help page.

Media libraries of the public broadcasters

ARD and ZDF have implemented youth protection in two ways: Films, series and programs that are not suitable for children and young people under the age of 16 or 18 can only be watched without registration from 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. (until 6 a.m.). There is also a children’s section that displays only content suitable for children. As soon as this is left, there is a hint. Those who set up an account to use the media libraries can also make additional individual settings, such as additional age ratings, setting a code, and creating a personalized media library. More about this on the help pages of ARD and ZDF.

Netflix

With Netflix Kids environment, you can create one or more kids profiles for Netflix. This parental control allows you to set age ratings for a profile, block individual titles, set up a PIN, and enable or disable autoplay. With a child profile, no changes can be made to the own or a
other profile can be made. The Netflix Kids environment does not only apply to movies and series, it can also be used to restrict access Netflix games. You can get step-by-step instructions on how to set up parental controls on the corresponding Netflix help page.

Technology only partially protects

Technical parental control settings are particularly useful when children know about them. Talk to your child about possible dangers and the goal of the settings. You should regularly consider whether settings can be adjusted – together with your child.

Despite a parental control, your child needs companionship in their media use. Be approachable when questions or fears arise. And watch your child when they watch videos. Choose content together in advance – then you can let your child watch an episode alone. When you set media rules together, you support the promotion of media literacy.

You can read more about the setting options and detailed instructions in the klicksafe guide.

Control my child’s TikTok usage!?

There are children and teenagers who spend a lot of time on TikTok spend. They watch short videos from others or produce their own TikToks. What exactly they look at there and publish themselves, many parents do not know and worry – also about the fact that their child can come into contact with strangers .

In response to criticism, TikTok introduced the “accompanied mode” for parental control back in 2020, which was revised again in 2023. This allows you, as the parent or guardian, to control how long the app can be used, whether private messages can be sent and received, and what content is displayed on the “For You” page. Click here for a detailed presentation of the app.

Trust and accompaniment are better than control

It’s understandable that you, as a parent, are concerned when your child is on social media platforms. Therefore, before using such apps, you should calmly talk to your child about what they are interested in. Explain your concerns to him and make him understand what risks there are in using it. If you are okay with your child using TikTok, ask regularly and stay interested. Let them show you what your child is doing there.

The app is not suitable for children under the age of 13 – as stated in TikTok‘s terms of use. Parents up to 16 years of age must also consent to the use. Make sure that your child really gives his or her correct date of birth. Because this affects the default settings of the app and the accompanied mode. TikTok itself is automatically set to “private” there and has a maximum usage time of 60 minutes a day for the youngest users.

Often children are already interested in the app beforehand. If your child wants to use TikTok, consider whether they might watch TikTok videos without their own account first. Because this is possible via a browser!

Activate accompanied mode

If your child is allowed to create a TikTok account with your permission and you choose to use the Accompanied Mode set it up as follows:

TikTok must be installed on your child’s smartphone and on your own device. You can find the Accompanied Mode in the “Digital Wellbeing” settings under “Privacy and Settings”. On the parent’s device, clicking on it opens a QR code that is scanned with your child’s smartphone. By doing so, your child agrees that you, as the parent, may control its use. IMPORTANT: Talk to your child beforehand about the functions in accompanied mode and consider together what should be switched on and to what extent:

  • You can set a daily usage time of 40, 60, 90 or 120 minutes per day. Times can be set differently for different days of the week or times (school hours/holidays). After the time has expired, a password must be entered to continue using TikTok.
  • When the restricted mode is activated, certain content that is not suitable for children should be filtered out, i.e. no longer displayed on the “For You Page”. Children and parents can also enter terms and hashtags to filter out content themselves.
  • You can set that only friends can send messages to your child. It is also possible to completely disable the receipt of messages.
  • It is also possible to regulate whether and when the app sends notifications – parents can therefore set that no push notifications arrive during school hours or at night, for example.
  • Since 2023, the parent app has included a “screen time dashboard” where parents can see exactly when, how often and how long their child has used TikTok .

TikTok would like to establish a “TikTok Youth Advisory Board” during 2023 to engage with the community itself on how to further develop the app.

What else parents should consider

Note that there are other setting options in TikTok outside of Accompanied Modethat should definitely be enabled. For example, make sure the account is set to private so that your child’s videos can’t be seen by strangers. For users between the ages of 13 and 15, TikTok makes this setting automatically – but you should definitely talk to your child about what the advantage is and why they should leave it that way or set it that way themselves from 16.

As a parent, you cannot track what content is being viewed. They also cannot read messages or comments, so your child’s privacy is preserved as much as possible. If you trust your child and he or she is already able to use media consciously and safely, it is certainly nicer to be able to do without this control option. Regularly discuss with your child whether the settings still fit as they are, or whether you can change certain settings.

Making media yourself – on the road with the photo camera

There are many ways to do small media projects with kids. Especially uncomplicated are projects around photography. Because there is actually a camera in every family, whether in the smartphone or as its own device. Plus, you don’t have to depend on the Internet or a power outlet (when the battery is charged) to take photos. So some ideas can also be implemented quite easily outside! What kind of camera you use for a small photo project, whether photo camera, smartphone or tablet does not matter in most cases. You can get creative together with your child and try out what can be photographed besides selfies and vacation snapshots – with the photo camera on the go.

Near and far

Anyone who takes photos themselves knows that the view through the camera lens is often a different one. When photographing, perspectives and proportions change completely. Go on a journey of discovery with your child. Macro photography, for example, is particularly well suited for this. That is, you get very close to objects. If available, you can also use the zoom of the camera to help you. Flowers, insects and other things look much bigger with it. This way, you can discover things together that you didn’t consider before. No less exciting is taking photos from a great distance or height. You can go in search of the best places to take pictures.

Perspectives Madness

You may know this photo action from your vacation in Paris or Pisa. Photos are taken there that look as if the leaning tower is being propped up or the Eiffel Tower is being gently held between index finger and thumb.
The technique is called forced perspective. This allows you to make objects appear larger or smaller than they actually are by positioning yourself at a certain distance. This often results in funny photos that do not correspond to reality.
Such perspective photos can be easily implemented at home or outside, because any building or object can be forced into funny and crazy perspectives. Just try it out with your kids – “play” with different perspectives.

For a fun YouTube video to get inspired, click here:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF3kp1g-jOg_%_

Photo story

Do you still know the photo love stories from Bravo? Behind it is the simple comic principle, combining images and short texts. Photos always tell stories and children love stories. Think up a little story together and package it as a photo story. This way, children can also try out their acting talent. It is even easier to create collages on a specific theme, such as “animals” or “nature”. With various apps, you can easily edit, arrange images and add text. Among other things, “Pic’s Art Photo and Collage” and “Edit Pic Collage Photo” let you edit pictures, create collages and insert stickers. “Snapseed”, on the other hand, relies on filters and correcting sharpness and contrast.

Publish photos

If your child has taken particularly successful photos, he or she can present them to other children in a children’s photo community such as Knipsclub or Kamerakinder. While on Instagram and the like, it’s usually the shining filter, a virtual wreath of flowers on the head or the rushing sea in the background that leads to lots of likes, the Knipsclub or the camera kids are all about the essentials: taking photos. Many photo activities and the nomination of the “Photo of the Month” encourage people to participate and try things out. In the digital exhibition, images can be marked with “Like” and commented on. Children up to about 12 years old can exchange ideas with each other. A kids’ photo community is a safe place to try out social network options in a protected space before your child posts photos and more on Instagram and other social apps starting in their teens. Talk to your child about what kinds of photos they share and which ones may be nobody’s business.

Another great idea, for advanced photographers is painting with light, also called light painting. A guide on how to do this with children can be found at“Growing up well with media“.

Even more ideas and tips for photographing with children can also be found at Knipsclub and Kamerakindern.

Safe is safe: passwords on the net

Konten bei Instagram, TikTok oder Amazon werden mit Passwörtern gesichert. So sollen Fremde keinen Zugriff auf sensible Daten wie Adresse, Kontonummer usw. erhalten oder im Namen anderer etwas posten oder Sachen bestellen. Manche Passwörter sind allerdings so einfach, dass sie mit technischer Hilfe von Kriminellen einfach “geknackt” werden können. Kinder sollten lernen, wie sichere Passwörter aussehen, sobald sie digitale Geräte nutzen oder im Netz unterwegs sind.

Tipps für ein sicheres Passwort

Ein sicheres Passwort hat mindestens 8 Zeichen und besteht aus Groß- und Kleinbuchstaben, Zahlen und Sonderzeichen. Je länger das Passwort, desto sicherer ist es. Vermeiden Sie persönliche Passwörter wie die Geburtsdaten Ihrer Kinder, denn sie sind mit etwas Recherche leicht herauszufinden. Zahlenfolgen (zum Beispiel „12345“), alphabetische Buchstabenfolgen (wie „abcdefg“) oder eine Folge benachbarter Tasten auf der Tastatur (wie „qwertz“) sind ebenfalls nicht sicher. Am besten eignen sich Wörter, die in keinem Wörterbuch stehen und nichts mit Ihnen oder dem Dienst, bei dem Sie sich anmelden möchten, zu tun haben.

Bauen Sie sich eine Eselsbrücke

Ein sicheres Passwort zu erstellen und sich auf Dauer daran zu erinnern, ist gar nicht so einfach. Dabei hilft eine Eselsbrücke. Denken Sie sich einen Satz aus, den Sie sich gut merken können, beispielsweise „Elternguide.online informiert und unterstützt Eltern 365 Tage im Jahr!“. Wenn Sie nur die Anfangsbuchstaben, Zahlen und Sonderzeichen des Satzes herausnehmen, entsteht folgendes Passwort: „Eoi+uE365TiJ!“ Diese Zeichenfolge ist sicher und Sie vergessen sie nicht so schnell. Wenn Ihnen kein eigener Satz einfällt, können Sie auch an ein Sprichwort denken, zum Beispiel: „Wenn zwei sich streiten, freut sich der Dritte!“. Überprüfen Sie die Sicherheit Ihres Passwortes mit dem Passwort-Check. Mit dem Passwort-Schlüssel-Automat können sich Eltern und Kinder Passwörter-Schlüssel ausdenken, die einfach zu merken sind.

Keeping track with password managers

Ein Passwort sollte regelmäßig geändert werden. Wir empfehlen, für verschiedene Plattformen jeweils ein eigenes Passwort zu verwenden, da es immer mal zu Datenlecks und dem Diebstahl von Nutzerdaten kommen kann. Kriminelle könnten auf alle Accounts zugreifen, wenn immer das gleiche Passwort verwendet wurde. 

Wenn Sie sich nicht so viele verschiedene Passwörter merken können oder wollen, nutzen Sie am besten einen Passwortmanager. Damit lassen sich Passwörter verwalten und verschlüsselt speichern. Sie müssen sich dann nur noch ein einziges Passwort für den Manager merken. Dieses sogenannte Masterpasswort sollte besonders sicher sein! Ein kostenfreier, datenschutzfreundlicher Passwort-Manager ist zum Beispiel KeepassXC.

Auf der Internetseite des Bundesamts für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik können Sie mehr zu sicheren Themen nachlesen und anschauen. Neben sicheren Passwörtern sind auch Themen wie Verschlüsselung, Zwei-Faktor-Authentifizierung und App-Berechtigungen wichtig, wenn es um die Sicherheit im Netz geht. Klären Sie Ihr Kind darüber auf, wie es seine Daten im Internet schützen kann und nehmen Sie gemeinsam Einstellungen am Smartphone vor.

Apple App Store

A well-stocked store that offers many useful applications for Apple products: the Apple App Store. It entices users with numerous apps, games, and media content from a seemingly endless selection. Find out what the Apple App Store is all about and how you can set it up to be childproof in this article.

In brief

  • Official marketplace for all iOS apps
  • Over two million apps for Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads and iPods
  • Pre-installed on all iOS devices, linked to Apple ID
  • Provider: Apple
  • the app itself is free of charge, the offered apps are partly chargeable

Digital bazaar

The Apple App Store is a digital platform where users can download and install iOS apps for their Apple devices such as iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. It was introduced by Apple in 2008 and has had a significant impact on the app development industry and mobile ecosystem ever since.

From games and entertainment apps to useful tools and productivity apps, the App Store offers a wide range. Users can search for apps, read ratings and reviews, buy apps or download them for free, and sign up for subscriptions. Specifically, there are ‘Today’ (apps and news selected by Apple), ‘Games’ (different types of games), ‘Apps’ (apps by category), ‘Arcade’ (exclusive games within the Apple Arcade subscription) and the general ‘Search’ categories for this on the home screen. When browsing, however, advertised apps are preferred. This means that even when searching for a specific app, the app you are looking for will first appear under a promotional post.

For developers, the App Store provides a platform to market. To do this, the apps must meet certain Apple guidelines and requirements regarding privacy, security, and features that enhance user experience. Each app is pre-screened for this by Apple before release. Some female developers criticize the high fees Apple charges for selling apps in the Apple App Store, while others have concerns about the review and approval processes.

Browse, play and have fun

Games, coloring and drawing apps, music and creative apps, entertainment apps and learning apps – the Apple App Store offers children and young people numerous options. Many of the apps are interactive, entertaining and promote cognitive development, language development or fine motor skills.

There is a separate category in the Apple App Store for children up to the age of twelve: it is called ‘Kids’. The apps there are usually kid-friendly and educational. However, the category is not intuitive to find. To do this, you must enter ‘children’ in the search box. This is the only way to land in the children’s section with subcategories.

The age ratings are set by Apple itself based on the content of the app and the target audience. Factors such as violence, sexual content, drug use, or gambling are considered. Each app is then given an age rating of 4+, 9+, 12+, 17+ or no clearance. Apple uses its own guidelines and standards for this.

What does the provider think?

Strict guidelines for all apps for children should ensure their safety: child-friendly content. No use of tracking technologies. No advertising. No in-app purchases without parental permission. Easy navigation and operation. No links to outside websites or social media without parent permission. Educational Benefits.

You can also adjust the settings on their Apple devices to restrict access to certain apps or content and ensure that your child can only access kid-friendly apps.

What should parents pay attention to?

  • Age ratings: The Apple App Store specifies an age rating for each app. However, these clearances are only a rough estimate. Pay attention to age-appropriate offers for your child
  • Parental controls: Activate the parental controls. The “Screen time” option in the settings of your iOS device allows you to set restrictions and assign your own code for it. You can then, for example, allow or block the use of certain apps. Apps with a higher age rating can also be blocked automatically.
  • Costs and in-app purchases: Some apps are free for now, but additional fun then costs; more levels, better devices, more play money. Depending on their age, talk to your child about in-app purchases. Do not deposit bank details for free disposal, but gladly load the balance with pocket money for free allocation. For younger children, disable in-app purchases or approve the purchase process before your child can buy anything. You can do this both in the app itself and in the App Store. However, the settings may vary depending on the device and operating system.
  • Privacy: Some apps collect data about users, including personal information, or access to device features. Therefore, restrict app permissions if necessary. Although Apple checks all apps in advance, there are even harmful apps that steal personal data or smuggle viruses onto your own device. Before downloading, check if it is a reputable app by checking the provider, ratings and number of downloads. Make your child aware of the topic of data protection and set up rules together on whether and how your child is allowed to download apps on his or her own.

Tips on how to safely set up your child’s smartphone are available in this article.

The streaming service Paramount+

Star Trek, Top Gun, Paw Patrol – the streaming service Paramount+ offers a wide range of movies and series of various genres for adults and children. In this article, we will take a closer look at the service and present its main settings for children.

In a nutshell:

  • Video streaming offer for the whole family
  • Available in Germany since December 2022
  • Flexible monthly subscription €7.99, annual subscription €79.90 (free with Amazon Prime and Sky Cinema subscription)
  • Certified youth protection functions in accordance with German law
  • Advertising-free

What can Paramount+ do?

The streaming service of the US media group Paramount has a selection of movies and series to offer. Including blockbusters such as The Lost City or La La Land, exclusive series such as Star Trek: Strange New Worlds or Yellowstone and live sporting events such as NFL or UEFA Champions League games.

The platform is divided into a separate category for children’s programming and offers a wide selection of animated series, children’s films and live-action programs such as all seasons of Paw Patrol, SpongeBob SquarePants and Spotlight. There is also original content produced specifically for children, such as Kamp Koral.

The price for the streaming service is lower than that of the competition. The catalog is still relatively thin compared to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and the like, but certainly extensive enough and continues to grow weekly.

What can be problematic?

Without parental controls, minors have unlimited access to all content on the streaming service – including content that is not suitable for their age and developmental level, or that may frighten or overwhelm them. Therefore, use the option to protect profiles with a PIN and set up children’s profiles.

Like every streaming service, Paramount+ is also incredibly appealing with the option of being able to keep watching indefinitely. In series, one episode after the next is played automatically. It is at least as difficult for children and young people as it is for adults to act on their own responsibility here. Make your child aware of this and set a good example. Additionally, you can limit the screen time in the children profiles.

It is also important to note that children are not always able to recognize the differences between fiction and reality. So take time to guide your child and talk about content your child sees on Paramount+ and help them understand what’s going on.

What does the provider think?

Paramount+ offers the possibility to protect profiles with a PIN and to set parental control settings. However, these settings are disabled by default. Parents must do this independently.

The settings are based on age ratings. Paramount does not specify which criteria are used for the releases.

What should parents pay attention to?

  • Age ratings and restrictions: Make sure your child can only access age-appropriate content. Please note that the age ratings are only recommendations. You decide what content is appropriate for your child.
  • Child profile and parental control: For complete protection, you need a child profile and parental control. So create a child profile – you can choose between the age groups 0/6 or 0/6/12. Depending on the setting, movies and series that are only released from a certain age are not displayed in this profile. Now make absolutely sure that your child cannot simply leave this profile. To do this, you need to activate the parental control. Please use a really secure PIN there. This is the only way to ensure that your child cannot end up in the adult section from the child profile.
  • Screen time: keep an eye on your child’s screen time. The best way to do this is to set media rules together so that media use is just one activity among many leisure activities.
  • Accompanying use: Young children perceive media much more emotionally than adults. Some things they cannot yet process or understand. Therefore, accompany your child, preferably watch together, so that your child does not feel left alone even during scary scenes. It can also turn the shared experience into a beautiful ritual.

Making media yourself: Listening projects with children

Did you know that your child can hear even before he or she is born? The ear is the first sensory organ to be formed during pregnancy.
Hearing also plays a special role in baby and toddlerhood. Babies can recognize mom’s voice at an early age. Hearing is important for perceiving the environment and learning to speak. Since young children cannot yet read, they are especially dependent on hearing. They like to be read to or listen to radio plays. As soon as children begin to speak, they narrate to themselves while playing.

Audio projects are easy to implement

Especially at kindergarten age, children can be inspired with audio media. It doesn’t always have to be movies and videos. From the age of about 3 years, you can produce small audio games together or play games with sounds. This trains accurate listening and helps to learn to speak well.

Prick up your ears when you go for a walk

With small children (about 3 years), you can just take a walk and listen carefully: What do we hear? What actually makes a noise?

On a sound safari

If your child is already a little older (from 4 years) you can go on a sound safari together. Every smartphone has a built-in microphone, and many also have an app for recording voice memos. Go outside, e.g. to the forest, collect all kinds of sounds together. When you listen to it afterwards, do you or your child recognize what the sounds were?

The own radio play

Produce your own radio play (suitable for children from approx. 4 years). Almost every child has a favorite book or story. Make a little radio play out of it together. Read the dialogues with divided roles and think about how to implement sounds. What does it sound like when it’s raining or storming outside? An overview of how you can create sounds yourself can be found here.

Listening puzzles and more

If the weather doesn’t invite you to go outside, your child can solve audio puzzles at audiyoukids.de or Planet Schule, set a story to music themselves or put together an audio play. Accompany your child in this process – especially if he or she cannot yet read. Older children (elementary school age and up) also learn to edit sound recordings here.

Also, check out the reading tips further down this page. There you will find more ideas for creative media projects and more.

Then let’s get to the ears and have fun listening and making sounds together!

App permissions: Camera, microphone and co

To edit photos, make voice calls or send messages, apps need access rights to the camera, pictures, microphone or contacts. Most of the time, these permissions make sense to be able to use the apps fully. Sometimes it is not clear for what purpose apps want to access personal data. To help you review app permissions with your child, we’ll take a closer look at selected permission types in this article.

Camera

Here’s how this permission works: Apps are allowed access to the smartphone’s or tablet’s built-in cameras to take photos and videos.

These apps need access to the camera, for example:

Here this function is optional:

  • Photo and video editing: Apps for creative editing of photos and videos. The image memory can also be used here.
  • Unlock: A smartphone can be unlocked using facial recognition. It is safer to use a code or fingerprint, as facial recognition can be fooled by a photo held in front of the camera.

This risk must be taken into account:

There is a risk that apps with access to the camera will be used to record users unintentionally. To prevent this, you can attach a cover with a slider to the camera lens, for example.

Microphone

This is how this permission works: Apps are allowed access to the microphone integrated in the smartphone.

These apps need access to the microphone, for example:

  • Communication: Apps for making phone calls, video conferencing or sending voice messages such as WhatsApp or Zoom.
  • Voice assistance: for entertaining with assistance systems such as Alexa, Siri and Co.
  • Audio recognition: Apps for the identification of bird calls like Birdnet or songs like Shazam.
  • Audio and video production: Audio apps for recording voice memos and radio plays, and video apps for dubbing videos and animated films.
  • Measure sound levels and tune musical instruments: Apps to control the volume or pitch.

Here this function is optional:

  • Voice control: Apps like Google Maps or search engines offer the option of entering commands verbally. The alternative is to submit it in writing.

This risk must be taken into account:

Apps that are allowed to access a device’s microphone can use this feature to listen in. Conversations, sounds from TV and radio, or music – there are apps that eavesdrop on their users around the clock and analyze them for keywords. The data is used for personalized advertising or resold for unclear purposes. Consent to this is done by agreeing to the terms of use when downloading the app. For interception, many services use a technology from the manufacturer Alphonso. If you search for it in the App Store or Play Store, you will find all apps that use this software. How exactly you can protect yourself from eavesdropping is explained by MDR in a Brisant feature.

Contacts

This is how this permission works: Apps can access, modify, forward, and delete stored contact data, as well as search for specific contacts. You receive information about which contact is contacted, when, for how long and via which communication channel.

These apps require access to the contacts, for example:

  • Communication: Apps for making calls and sending messages like WhatsApp or Threema . With most messengers, access to contacts can be denied and the app still remains functional. The chat list will then only contain the phone numbers and not the names of the contacts.
  • Social Media: Apps for networking and connecting like BeReal or TikTok .

Here this function is optional:

  • Navigation and journey planner: Apps for finding the fastest way to the address of a saved contact.

This risk must be taken into account:

Apps that are allowed to access a device’s contact list can use this feature to collect personal data and analyze contact associations. This means that by accessing contacts, apps collect data from uninvolved people who do not have messenger or social media apps installed themselves. Be aware that your handling of personal data also affects third parties, namely your contacts.

Other permissions

You should also carefully review the following authorization types:

– the location , for example to use navigation apps

– the telephone, for example to call contacts

– The SMS, for example, to send a code for two-factor authentication.

– the calendar, for example to send appointment invitations

– the memory, for example to edit already created pictures and videos

A detailed list of all permission types of Android devices is provided by the AppChecker of the iRights.

What should parents pay attention to?

Explain to your child what app permissions are, how to set them and how to check them. Encourage your child to use their data sparingly and to protect it. Educate yourself together with your child before installing an app:

  • Do we really need the app?
  • Who is the app provider?
  • How many downloads does the app have and what are the user comments?
  • What does the app’s terms of use say?
  • How is the app positioned in terms of data protection?
  • What permissions does the app ask for?
  • Which of these would I need to agree to in order to use the app for my purposes?
  • Are all authorizations traceable?

If you or your child have granted an authorization that you do not use or are critical of, you can cancel the authorization at any time. See the article on app permissions for instructions on Android and Apple device settings.

App permissions: The location share

Location sharing on smartphones is used in a variety of situations, such as navigating a foreign city with a map app, quickly locating someone in an emergency, or catching digital monsters on the street. This is usually practical and often facilitates everyday life. However, many apps also use the collection of location-based data for analysis and advertising purposes. Therefore, this function should be discussed with children and young people.

What is the site release?

Location sharing is a feature of the smartphone that is accessed by various apps. For example, a map app such as GoogleMaps can use it to detect where the user of the smartphone is currently located. A person can share their current location, for example, via a messenger such as WhatsApp or Signal , actively communicate live to another person or group for a specified time.

There are apps that access the location in the background once the user has given permission. The release is usually intended to enable a specific function of the app, such as navigation to the next bus stop.

Location sharing on smartphones or other mobile devices is mainly enabled by two factors: the activated location using GPS or the use of mobile data or a specific WLAN.

Advantages and disadvantages of site sharing

Children and young people can use this function to date more easily or share their lives with their friends. In many apps, location sharing is a basic feature, for example, on Snapchat . In it, teens can track where their friends are on a map or where the latest story photo was taken.

Children and young people often underestimate the amount of data that is passed on to the companies behind them with location sharing and other authorizations. Location sharing and other data are collected, combined and thus a complex movement profile is created. This is used for advertising or resold for other interests that are not always clear.

If someone else can see where you are, that can be an invasion of privacy. Because not always, one is aware that the location sharing is enabled!

How can site sharing be restricted?

Not all apps need the location to perform their functions, but still want to access it. Therefore, the settings should be checked.

Location sharing can be controlled by deliberately turning the “Location” (Android) or “Location Services” (iOS/Apple) feature on and off. This function can be found either in the quick settings (not on iOS) or in the settings menu.

In some cases, automatic location sharing – when opening and using an app or permanently – is enabled. This setting should definitely be changed in the app permissions and set up for each app individually.

The smartphone also wants to access the location to set some functions, such as the automatic time setting. You don’t have to let that happen once you manually set the time on your or your child’s device.

What else is important!

Even if you disable location tracking via GPS and mobile data, many devices can still detect where you are. When you make a call, your phone connects to a nearby cell tower. When you are at home, use the wifi. This way, your mobile operator knows which cell you are in. The location determination is not as accurate as with GPS, but still accurate enough.

Does your child not yet have a smartphone, but already has a smartwatch? This one also requires attention to settings such as location sharing. Read more about this in our article The smartwatch as an entry into the digital world?

It is not uncommon for site clearance to be associated with conveniences and not necessarily necessities. Therefore, think carefully about when you do not want to do without it and when it is more important to protect the personal data of yourself and your child as well as possible. For the best privacy protection, we would have to turn off our smartphones altogether!

Point out the topic of data security to your child. Talk about the benefits and risks of location sharing and show how to turn the feature on and off on mobile. Use outdoor apps and activities like geocaching to make it fun and clear how location tracking works.

Check and set app permissions

Some apps only work if they can access certain functions and data on the device: Google Maps needs access to the location, for example, in order to navigate, Instagram would like to access camera and photos, because otherwise no pictures could be posted and WhatsApp accesses the saved contacts to be able to send messages. But with some apps, it is not clear at first glance why they request a lot of personal data and permissions during installation. To avoid unintentionally storing and sharing your child’s data, it makes sense to keep track of app permissions together and make the right settings.

What are app permissions?

After downloading an app, so-called permissions are often requested when opening it for the first time. This defines which functions and data the respective app is allowed to access on the device. However, some apps want to access functions that are not necessary and require more permissions than necessary. The main reason behind this is the interest in using data for analysis or advertising purposes or passing it on to third parties. This is especially the case with free apps and many game apps, as they earn money by sharing user data. Unfortunately, this is why they are often questionable in terms of data protection.

For each app, it is best to check exactly which permissions are granted with the installation and whether they are really necessary for the app to function before downloading it. In the Google Play Store or the App Store , you can see what an app wants to access. The information about app permissions can be found in the Play Store , if you scroll down a bit,under “Data security”. You can learn more in Apple’s App Store by clicking on “Privacy”. There, under “Data associated with you”, you will find categories of data that are collected when you use the app. Further links lead to the app’s privacy policy and terms and conditions (unfortunately often only in English).

How can I view and set the permissions of my children’s apps?

View the permissions of an app on the smartphone to know what features and information it accesses. It is best to look at these together with your child and discuss which settings should possibly also be deactivated. There are two options for both Android (from version 6.0) and Apple devices (iPhone/iPad from IOS 7). To do this, go to the “Settings” for both operating systems.

Option 1 for Android:

  1. Under “Privacy”, click “Permissions Management” or “Permissions Manager”.
  2. Tap a permission and use the slider to select whether an app should have access or not. In newer Android versions, a list is displayed for which apps the permission is allowed and for which it is not. Click on an app and change the access.

Option 2 for Android:

  1. Under “Apps” or “Apps & Notifications”, click the app you want.
  2. Then tap on “Permissions”. Now you can use the sliders or – in newer Android versions – the list of permissions to select which permissions the app should receive and which not.

You can learn more about app permission settings on Android devices by contacting Google support.

Option 1 at Apple:

  1. Select “Privacy” under “Settings” in the list or “Privacy & Security” for newer IOS versions.
  2. Select a permission to view the list of apps that want to access that feature or information.
  3. Tap on an app and use the check mark to select whether the app should have access or not.

Option 2 at Apple:

  1. Scroll down to the list of applications in “Settings”.
  2. Select an app to check its permissions.
  3. Using the sliders, you can now choose which permissions the app should get and which not.

You can learn more about app permission settings on Apple devices by contacting Apple support.

What should parents pay attention to when it comes to app permissions?

Agree with your child whether or not they can install apps independently. Is your child already experienced with smartphone use and can he or she assess which app permissions are useful or does he or she still need support?

Talk about which permissions make sense for which apps and show your child how to disable permissions. Access to location information or saved contacts should be handled with care in order to protect your own data. Consider together what is more important, using a particular app or maintaining privacy. If necessary, research alternative apps that are privacy-friendly.

Even after installation, check the permissions at regular intervals. For some apps, permissions change during updates.

If you are unsure whether an app is trustworthy, it is worth looking for information about the developer or provider on the web. On klick-tipps.net, numerous apps popular with children are evaluated and presented with a view to possible risks.

Geocaching homemade

Around the world there are millions of geocaches and many people looking for them. Some people not only search, but hide caches themselves. If you want to get creative with the family itself, here we explain how.

Not only the search for a cache is great fun. You can also hide caches yourself and come up with riddles and clues. There are hardly any limits to creativity and you don’t need much for it. Developing your own scavenger hunt is suitable for children from about eight years old. Depending on the age and interest of the child, geocaching can be linked to educational and learning content – also called educaching. In this way, knowledge is combined with fun and games. Your own does not have to be officially listed on a geocaching platform, but can also be created just for friends and family. It can lead to a treasure, a surprise and/or a riddle. It can be a single cache or a multi-part cache (multi-cache), where different stations are walked.

From the idea to your own cache

The first step is to find a topic. Content with a local connection – e.g. exciting places in your own city – is a good idea. However, topics such as the environment and forests or historical events can also be covered. It is important that it is appropriate for your child’s interests and age. Your child may also have ideas of his or her own that he or she would like to implement.

Once the topic is found, research is done to find interesting things. The smartphone camera can be used to capture possible hiding places. Then it’s on to thinking up puzzles and tasks. In a multi-cache, the stations must be placed in order and hidden at the locations. Make a note of the GPS coordinates of the hiding places. If you want to play the scavenger hunt, you will only receive the coordinates of the first station at the start. During the search, each newly discovered cache then contains the coordinates for the next track.

For your own geocache you will need the following:

  • Tins or containers for clues, puzzles, and items as appropriate.
  • GPS device or smartphone with GPS turned on (coordinates can also be searched using a map app such as Google Maps ).
  • if necessary, camera or smartphone to photograph hiding places in advance
  • Paper and pen
  • A notebook (log book)
  • Cards for hints and tips
  • Possibly small prizes for the last cache (treasure chest)

Geo- and Educaches can also be designed multimedia-based with the help of the app Actionbound. More about Educaching can be found here.

Geocaching – the modern treasure hunt

This scavenger hunt, which works with a smartphone or GPS device, is also fun for older kids and teens. Try it out and go on this special treasure hunt together with your child.

What does Geocaching mean?

Geocaching involves using a GPS receiver to find small treasures that other players have hidden in different places. These caches are located in cans or jars of different sizes. The respective GPS location is registered on a platform, e.g. geocaching.com or opencaching.de, and can be saved and retrieved via app. Whoever finds a cache enters his or her name in a so-called logbook, which is attached to the cache. After that, the can is closed again and hidden in the same place, so that the next person also has to look for it.

Geocaching is a popular hobby among adults, children and teenagers. The treasures are hidden all over the world, so even on vacation you can go in search and discover exciting places. For some geocachers, it’s all about finding as many caches as possible and signing logbooks around the world.

What is there to consider?

There are caches in different categories and sizes. All important information is in the cache description. Some caches require special equipment for the search. With puzzle caches, tasks must be solved beforehand in order to get the GPS coordinates. Depending on the cache, children as young as 4 can join the treasure hunt. Older children can already read the descriptions themselves and be more independent in their search.

Some caches are not easy to find. This can quickly frustrate children. Therefore, read the cache description carefully beforehand. Often there are still important hints in the comments of the digital logbook (under each cache description). Occasionally it happens that a cache is no longer in hiding because someone has destroyed it or taken it away.

In some caches are barter items, such as a toy figure, a coin or the like. Some items have a mission. For example, they are to get to another country or place by barter. All information is available on the geocaching platform. An important rule is that geocachers search inconspicuously so as not to draw the attention of so-called muggles to the cache. Throwing away trash or destroying the landscape is not welcomed in the geocaching community and is against the rules of geocaching.

Here’s how to go on a treasure hunt:

  • register with geocaching platform and search for suitable caches
  • Install geocaching app on (loaded) smartphone
  • Read cache descriptions well, as sometimes there are things to keep in mind during the search
  • Pack a pen and barter item if needed, put on sturdy shoes and let’s go!
  • Search for the cache with the help of the smartphone, find it and log the visit (in the can and/or on the platform/app).
  • Hide cache again (in the same place)

Lightpainting – Colorful light paintings with the smartphone

Have you ever seen those beautiful photos where light was used to paint or write? The pictures look spectacular and can even be implemented with the smartphone.

What is Lightpainting?

Lightpainting translates as painting with light. This involves taking photos in low light conditions or in the dark. Flashlights, LED lights or sparklers can serve as additional light sources. They can be used to draw pictures or letters in the air and capture them on a photo. In the process, beautiful light paintings are created. The technique to do light painting yourself, many families have at home. Because light painting is possible with many smartphones.

Image source: unsplash.com/Brunetto Ziosi

Light painting as a family project

Light painting can be a beautiful media project with the whole family. Even small children (from about 3 years) can participate by moving light sources. Older children can learn how light painting works with a smartphone or camera. Everyone can live out their creativity together.
For such a project, all you need is a smartphone, a darkened interior (with a little experience, you can also do it outside) and a few colorful light sources. If you have a digital camera and a tripod, you can create even better light paintings. Here’s how:

  1. Check if you can set longer exposure times of about 30 seconds on your camera. With the smartphone, it is important that the camera app allows longer exposure times. If that’s not the case, there are also special camera apps available for download (e.g. B. Light Painting, free in the App Store or LightPainting by AIRC, also free for iOS but only in English or Italian; LL Cam for Android, free but with ads in the Google Play Store).
  2. If the technique fits, find a dark place (indoors or outdoors) where you have enough space to take photos. The darker the place, the better the light painting succeeds. Tip: Put on dark clothes if you don’t want to be seen in the picture, but want the painting to be in the foreground.
  3. Place the smartphone securely – either with a tripod or in a similarly stable place. If the camera or smartphone is held in the hand, the image may blur easily.
  4. With the smartphone, an exposure time of 30 seconds and the use of the self-timer is recommended. The self-timer prevents it from shaking while taking pictures. This would result in blurry photos.
  5. Now you can stand in front of the camera and paint in the dark with the selected light sources. Light sources such as sparklers, pop-up lights, LED lights, smartphone screens (there are apps for these, too), or flashlights that can change color are all possible for light painting. If you do not want to see one of the light movements on the image, you must turn off or cover the light source.

The images created during a light painting activity can be sent – printed out or via smartphone – to friends and family.

On a page of the Landesanstalt für Medien Nordrhein-Westfalen you will find a picture tutorial that is easy to understand even for children.
And you’re ready to go! Keep in mind that it takes a little practice to get great images. However, with a little patience you can take a New Year photo with sparklers and the year numbers or photo of passing cars on the highway. A night action in the summer vacations or winter indoors. Together with your child, you are sure to come up with many creative motifs!

For more on light painting and photography with kids, check out Camera Kids.

Discover nature with apps

“Look dad, a giant beetle!”, “Mom, can I eat this berry?”, “What bird is singing?”. When it comes to nature and the environment, children make many exciting discoveries. Apps can help to explore and more accurately identify animals and plants around us.

Out and about with the smartphone

Children are curious by nature and want to understand exactly what they are discovering in the world. Besides books and encyclopedias on animal and plant identification, you can also use your smartphone to discover the nature around you together! Whether flowers or butterflies, animal tracks or constellations – with the right apps, you can learn new things about animals and plants together with your child. Take advantage of your child’s joy of discovery and combine nature experience in the fresh air with. We present you four selected apps.

Determine plants

What’s blooming by the wayside? Take a picture of a flower, a stalk or a leaf while you’re out walking and find out the answer in seconds – that’s what the app Flora Incognita (Latin for “unknown plant world”) allows you to do. It is easy to use and with it children become naturalists. Thanks to a special algorithm, the app recognizes a variety of flowers, shrubs, trees and grasses and provides information about them. The discoveries can be saved in the app, giving scientists clues about the distribution of plants. “Flora Incognita” is the product of a research project of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena & TU Ilmenau. The app is available free of charge and ad-free for iOS and Android devices.

More info: Flora Incognita | EN – The Flora Incognita App – Interactive Plant Identification

Recognize bird calls

“Cuckoo, cuckoo, calls from the forest!”. Birds often sit well hidden in bushes or on high trees. We don’t always see them, but can easily hear their chirping and calling. Telling the different bird calls apart is not so easy. The app BirdNET (English for “bird net”) offers assistance. With it, bird calls can be recorded and directly determined. PROFILEs give more detailed information about the feathered animals, the records are used scientifically. BirdNET is a research project of the TU Chemnitz & Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The free, ad-free app is available for both iOS and Android.

More info: BirdNET Sound ID – The easiest way to identify birds by sound. (cornell.edu)

Become part of a nature community

The app iNaturalist is a social platform that connects nature lovers worldwide in a community. Through a profile you can upload and identify photos of all kinds of animals, plants and fungi. The observations are tagged with the location and stored. This allows other users to look up what animals and plants have been spotted in the area and discuss the findings. There are an impressive number of discoveries in the free app. Nevertheless, it is clearly designed and easy to use for older children. iNaturalist is free and available for Android and for iOS.

More info: A community for nature lovers – iNaturalist

Discover the sky at night

Big Dipper, Milky Way, Polaris: that’s how familiar most people are with our night sky. Beyond that, it often already becomes difficult. The app Star Walk 2 offers the possibility to discover the stars and planets around us with the location of the camera function. By clicking on a celestial body, users can learn more about it. Using augmented reality, the app connects individual stars to form beautiful, three-dimensional constellations and accompanies the experience with atmospheric music. In-app purchases provide access to more categories such as satellites and comets. The app is free of charge and advertising in the basic version and available for Android and iOS.

More info: Easily Identify Stars at Night | Mobile Stargazing | Current Starry Sky | Star Walk

What should parents pay attention to?

  • Some apps only work with an Internet connection. In the middle of the forest or in the mountains, you may not have reception. Take photos of your discoveries and look them up together later.
  • Caution toxic! Even nature identification apps do not offer one hundred percent certainty. When in doubt, avoid touching or eating plants and animals.
  • Some apps require access to your location, smartphone camera and other features. Check which app permissions are really necessary for using the app and support your child in using data sparingly.
  • Keep in mind that some apps may allow in-app purchases. Find out exactly before installing an app and limit purchase options in the smartphone settings.
  • Together with your child, consider how you would like to organize media use in the family and how much screen time is appropriate.
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