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Computer, console or app stores – distribution channels for games

3 minutes reading time
6-17 years
Foto: pexels.com/cottonbro_studio

Digital games have become an integral part of the everyday lives of children and young people. In order to play these games, they often have to be purchased or, in the case of free games, at least downloaded. A now rather rare way to buy games is to go to a store and buy a physical data carrier there. This also eliminates the age check carried out by a sales clerk on site. In order to protect your child, we would like to give you an overview of where children and young people can buy games and where you as a parent can find information on setting options.


On the computer, the possibilities for obtaining games are almost unlimited. In the meantime, many publishers have created their own launcher (a program used to launch games) with their own store. A user account must be created there and it is often also possible to deposit a means of payment. A well-known game that is popular with children and runs via its own launcher is Minecraft . In addition to the “own” launchers, there are also large companies that specialize in the digital sale of computer games such as Steam Epic Games Store and GOG. You can find an overview of the technical measures for distribution platforms in the USK guide. The website medien-kindersicher also informs parents about technical protection settings for various devices, services and apps.


For consoles such as Xbox, Nintendo Switch or PlayStation it is often easier to see through how children and young people get hold of games. You can either buy them in the store or in the online store of the respective console. To do this, either payment information must be stored or POSA cards, which are subject to a charge, are used. In the console’s account settings, you can often create children’s accounts, set age restrictions for content or set the screen time. We explain some of the setting options in the article Endless play – technical settings.


Smartphone gaming in particular has become increasingly important for children and young people in recent years. This has a lot to do with the technical development of mobile devices: unlike a few years ago, cell phones are now powerful enough to play games on them. As cell phones are very common among children aged 9 and over, they are naturally also used for playing games. The games are distributed via the app stores and downloaded there. You cannot buy a data carrier in a store. The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK ) has been awarding age ratings for online games and apps within the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC ) for many years. This makes it possible to block certain content. Make the necessary settings in the app stores and, if necessary, create a separate children’s account that you manage as an adult. You can find detailed information on this in the articles on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

What parents should pay attention

  • Talk to your child about their play behavior as openly and without reproach as possible. Discuss with your child what they would like to play and ask openly about their interests.
  • Pay attention to the USK age ratings for video games. These indicate the age at which a game is safe from the point of view of the protection of minors. However, the age labels do not provide any information as to whether children can master the games technically and in terms of content.
  • You should therefore also check whether the games are educationally valuable and suitable for your child. To be able to give a better assessment, watch your child play or try out the game yourself in advance.
  • Find out about your child’s favorite games and their distribution channels. On Elternguide.online you will find many articles on popular games such as Roblox, Fortnite or Clash Royal including an educational assessment.
  • Playing is normal and should be allowed. However, it is important to agree on rules and boundaries that everyone involved adheres to. The media usage contract can be a great tool for this, because your child’s interests are also represented there and your child can help make decisions.
  • Is your child very absorbed by gaming? We have collected some of the setting options for you in the article on Endless play – technical settings.
  • Take technical measures in consultation with your child to protect them from challenges ranging from communication risks to cost traps when gaming. For example, you can use the USK’s guide to parental control settings for the most popular distribution platforms.

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