On stage or canned, pressed on vinyl or available digitally – music accompanies us throughout our lives in the most diverse forms. Currently in vogue: music as livestream, on YouTube or on other platforms. For young people, this is a popular way to listen to their favorite music and stay in touch with others at the same time.
At first glance, it looks a bit like a return to linear television: Music is broadcast live – and users have the option of clicking in and listening along if they want. They do not select the songs themselves individually, but call up a playlist that someone has compiled for them.
In fact, there are also many similarities – but also differences – to VIVA, MTV and Co. or 1990s:
Livestreams are indeed very popular among users: 30 percent of YouTube users in a global study by Datareport in 2022 said they watch at least one livestream per week.
For children and young people, the livestream serves two important needs at once. On the one hand, they can get their favorite music here and get inspired. Depending on their tastes and the situation, they will always find the right offer – such as the hits of the year for the New Year’s Eve party or LoFi channels.(LoFi stands for “low fidelity” and refers to music recorded with simple technical devices that are a popular acoustic accompaniment for learning). At the same time, the live chat offers them the possibility of a parallel exchange with their circle of friends, with other listeners or with the creators of the stream. That’s how they find connection and community – and people with similar tastes in music.
Children and young people with their own profile can also offer livestreams themselves. In this way, they become creative themselves, share and express themselves.
So, on the whole, livestreams seem to be a good deal for music lovers of all kinds. In principle, minors may only use YouTube with the permission of their parents. The use of YouTube is permitted in Germany from a minimum age of 16 years. From the age of 13, parents can allow their children to use the Family Link.
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to live music streams – and they’re something parents should definitely address before releasing their kids into the vastness of YouTube:
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.
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.
With small children (about 3 years), you can just take a walk and listen carefully: What do we hear? What actually makes a noise?
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?
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.
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!
If you’re looking for good movies or podcasts for kids, you’ll quickly land on Kixi. The platform is a streaming service with a very special mission: Because on Kixi there are offers exclusively for children.
Kixi touts “educational children’s movies” on its website. These are selected by an editorial team. At Kixi there is a good selection of offers for children. These include classics such as “The Snow Queen” or stories by Astrid Lindgren as well as new on-screen heroes, e.g. the “Dragon Coconut”. Users can choose from four categories:
Under “Audio” there is a selection of audio plays and audio books. Educational offerings include educational films from the school sector, what-is-what offerings or factual films such as “Der kleine Medicus,” but also learning series that convey knowledge content with a playful character. The offers are sorted by age (the FSK rating applies here) or genre, so that you can quickly find what you are looking for.
Kixi can be viewed directly in a browser via kixi.de, but it also works as an app, via Magenta TV or via other smart TV apps. Registration with an email address is required to use Kixi.
In fact, the selection at Kixi is considerable and well sorted. Children can look, listen and learn there largely without hesitation. Since the app is ad-free, there is no risk that young viewers will click on commercial links or come across content that is actually only intended for adults.
By sorting by age, it quickly becomes clear which offers are also suitable for the youngest. Since the range is very clearly laid out, children can easily find their way around on their own. When on the road, the offline function can be used to access the program even without Internet access.
Even if the offer is safe for children, they need company even with the best program.
Select movies, audios, etc. with your child to make sure the preschooler doesn’t accidentally browse the “12+” category. In addition, it is important to jointly define rules of use and to discuss the content viewed with each other. Children have a lot of need to talk even after watching harmless films and must have a suitable contact person for this.
If you use the free offer first, you should remember to disable in-app purchases. Otherwise, your child will very quickly end up on paid content and may accidentally sign up for a subscription.
“Dear Santa, this year I would like a new smartphone. But one with a good camera, please!”
Media devices are at the top of many wish lists. For parents, however, they often trigger questions above all. Are media good gifts? Which media are suitable for which age? And what should be considered when buying?
From books or radio plays to game consoles, many things fall under the term media. And almost all of them show up as gift requests at some point. For younger children, picture books, audio games or music boxes are often found in the gifts. Later, the wishes tend to go in the direction of smartwatches or children’s tablets. And when the children get older, laptops and tablets, game consoles and, above all, smartphones increasingly end up on the wish lists.
In most cases, parents still feel relatively secure in their choices in the early years and become increasingly insecure later on. However, some things that make gift giving easier can always be kept in mind!
The question is whether media are given at all and which are the right ones? Then there are several ways to make a decision. The following questions can help:
Children often take their cue from older friends or siblings. Therefore, they are interested in offers that are not appropriate for their age. As a parent, however, you should pay attention to the age for which an offer is intended. You can read everything important about this in our article “Age-appropriate media for my child“.
Before media is purchased, you should also consider whether your child is already able to handle it. For one thing, it’s about the use itself. It can be helpful to answer for yourself whether your child is already motor and cognitively capable of using the desired device. It is also a question of whether your child, already reasoned content select alone, whether it can correctly assess the financial value of a device and handle it with appropriate care and much more.
Before purchasing a smartphone, the questionnaire “Is my child ready for a smartphone?” from klicksafeisa good way to find out.
Media gifts can quickly become quite expensive. Then you as parents are faced with the dilemma: Do we fulfill the wish at a high price – or do we disappoint the child? But often there are other solutions. For expensive devices, it is a good idea to start with older, used models. This saves money and gives you the opportunity to first try out how well your child can handle it. If your child already receives pocket money, he or she can also contribute to the costs. In this way, they also learn to better assess the value of the device and handle it more carefully.
Before buying media, it is also important to think and talk about how the media will be used later. For younger children, it is a good idea to negotiate media rules together and record them in a media use contract. In addition, you can resort to technical protection measures and set them up together with your child. Many devices have their own parental control settings. We also need to talk to older children and young people about usage times, costs and responsible use of content.
All in all, the following applies to media gifts: The purchase alone is only the first step. It is important to stay in conversation with your child about both the desire and the use. This way you can accompany your child well in their media use, discover difficulties early on and find solutions together.
Also consult with other parents beforehand if the equipment has already been purchased there. What experiences have they had?
Trying out the media together under the Christmas tree is much more fun! This way you will also get to know your child’s new device right away.
When young people on the street hold their cell phones in their hands much like a sandwich or talk excitedly into the air with headphones, it’s hardly surprising: they’re probably recording a voice message. This is also a popular way for families to stay in touch with each other in their often busy daily lives or over long distances.
Almost every messenger has the function to record voice messages. To do this, press and hold the microphone to the right of the text field within a chat or group and speak the message into the smartphone. After releasing the microphone button, the voice message is automatically sent to the selected person. This can listen to the message as many times as desired and also pause in between.
Voice is usually a better way to express how a message is meant. Does the voice sound angry, perhaps? Or is someone making a joke? The spoken voice can replace the emojis of a text message and make the message more authentic. With a voice message, there is more scope to express and communicate thoughts and feelings to others in less time than typing.
The advantages of this type of communication are the low effort and time savings that voice messages bring. On the road, for example, you can quickly ask in the family chat at the supermarket with shopping bag in hand what is needed for dinner. Eternal typing or the planning of telephone calls, for which both conversation partners must have time at the same time, are eliminated.
Voice messages can also help keep in touch with friends or family members who live farther away. Using your own voice is a quick and uncomplicated way to make it clear that you are thinking of each other.
Voice messages can also be annoying: Some people use them because they don’t feel like typing long texts. With voicemail, some get into the talking and don’t really have anything important to share. Instead, you get minutes of audio. Not always the received persons are able to listen to a voice message. While text messages can be read, voice messages must be listened to again in order to comprehend what may be important information. This is especially annoying with long audios.
Voice messages are sometimes sent faster than intended as soon as the microphone icon is released. Many messenger apps now offer the option of listening to the recorded message before sending it and checking whether it should really go out that way.
When recording and listening to voice messages, people in the vicinity should not feel disturbed. A text message can be read and typed silently – this does not apply to voice messages. Therefore, care should also be taken to ensure that when a voice message is played, not everyone can simply listen in. To avoid eavesdropping, many young people play the messages very quietly and hold the speaker of their smartphone very close to their ear. What may look a bit strange at first glance is a way to use voice messaging in public as well.
When recording voice messages, loud noises such as road noise or wind can interfere. Sometimes it also happens that you accidentally close the microphone, which means that the recipient cannot hear what is being recorded. Be aware that voice messages are a convenient option, but can never replace face-to-face exchanges. Make an agreement within the family and also with other people for which messages and in which situations audios are suitable and when not.
Every month, a few euros are automatically deducted from the account for the Netflix account. The child occasionally gets a new computer game or money for in-game purchases in the game app. But what about other content on the web? Have you ever thought about how creative people earn their money on the net, other than with advertising. How do you react when your child asks for your PayPal account because she would like to donate money to her favorite musician on Spotify?
Creators are people who publish content on the web – i.e. influencers, musicians, authors, etc. Many of them earn their money through income from advertising contracts or placed advertising and by having their content, such as songs or podcasts, listened to via streaming services. However, not all creative people can live on this alone. Creators can also be financially supported by their fans through fundraisers and certain platforms. In this way, their fans show them that the content is important to them and valuable to them. The support enables artists to become less dependent on commercial platforms and additionally offer their fans exclusive content.
Paid content on the Internet is becoming more and more commonplace. Read more about this in our article “Everything free on the net?“.
Apart from paid subscriptions, accounts and apps, there are support options via dedicated platforms and streaming services.
Who certain creators on Spotify might know the donate button on their person page. Through it, fans can donate money via PayPal podcasters, musicians and bands. Not all artists have this button. Since this is a donation, the amount is not fixed. Also, fans don’t get any benefits from this, but they support the person so that they can continue to produce content in the future.
Steady is a kind of crowdfunding platform from Germany. Crowdfunding means that many people (crowd) finance the work of a few people. The special thing about Steady is that interested people and fans regularly support media makers by paying a certain amount for a membership every month. In return, they receive exclusive content via the artist or creator’s Steady page or social media platforms. For example, these can be Instagram stories that only Steady users see or podcast episodes that only subscribers can listen to. Steady requires free registration. Some operators of Steady projects also offer free content, e.g. the newsletter “Schreibers Naturariums“.
Patreon works similarly to Steady, but comes from the USA. Here, too, creatives can regularly receive a self-determined amount of money from their fans. The fans are called “patrons,” which means “sponsors” in German. Interested parties can find global creators from the fields of podcast, music, video/film, games, education, etc. here. Patrons can support the Creators by making a monthly contribution or paying for the use of individual content.
Has your child already expressed interest in exclusive content from a Creator? Consider together whether it makes sense to invest pocket money. The advertising freedom is an advantage on sites like Steady and Patreon. Nevertheless, you should find out what content the person publishes before you allow your child to spend money on it.
Consider together how many Creators can be supported and for how long. For example, if you agree with your child that one or two supports are okay at a certain price, he or she will have to cancel another support request first. Otherwise, more pocket money may be spent on it than available.
It is natural for adults and young people to search for information on the Internet and to use search engines. Younger children, who are just learning to read and write, must first be introduced to learning via the Internet. After all, it is not easy to filter out the appropriate content from the large quantities of information. In addition, much of the content is not made for children, but is aimed at adults. This can quickly overwhelm children.
Fortunately, there is a good supply of German-language children’s sites online. Not only are they fun, but they also help you learn.
Just as children’s books are suitable for learning to read in the first few years, offers aimed at children should also be used for the first steps on the Internet. Such children’s sites are understandable and simple in language. They are not overloaded, so that Internet beginners can easily orient themselves and learn how to use digital media. Children can participate themselves on these pages in a safe environment: they can get in touch with other children and express their own opinions.
In addition, children’s sites can serve as learning support because they offer child-friendly information on many different topics and these are often implemented in a playful manner.
This collection is only a selection of good children’s sites for learning. If you know of other good sites, feel free to share your experiences via our contact form or via social media on our Facebook or Instagram channel.
Put headphones on your ears and turn on the podcast in your smartphone – and you’re ready to listen! But which platforms and apps can you use to listen to podcasts? Which offers are best suited? What is there to consider?
Podcasts can be listened to in various ways: directly via a provider’s website or via various apps. The apps themselves can be divided into streaming platforms, such as Spotify and Amazon Music, and so-called podcatchers.
Users can also access podcasts through popular audio content platforms. You can search for podcasts using the search or filter function. Some of these are exclusive podcasts that are only available on the respective platform. The apps are usually free, but require registration. If you don’t want to listen to commercials in between, you have to take out a paid subscription.
With Family subscriptions, you can set up a separate account for your child. In it, you can create a playlist of age-appropriate podcasts.
Podcatchers are apps that allow subscribing to podcasts, downloading episodes and listening to them directly. New podcasts can be added via a search function. Such apps are suitable for those who like to listen to podcasts regularly. Podcatchers can access a great many podcasts, for example, content from the ARD audio library. Since the podcatcher offer in the app stores is very large, we have compiled the following selection, which can help in the decision for such a podcast app:
The free app is only available for Android. The range of functions is reduced, but clear. The absolute plus point is the good data protection. The app can also be downloaded and used without a Google account (via the alternative app store F-Droid). It is open source and there is no company behind it that wants to make money with the app.
The app only runs on iOS. It is already pre-installed on the devices. Those who use multiple Apple devices can sync the podcast content, i.e. access it from multiple devices. Unfortunately, certain settings in the app have to be made individually for each podcast, e.g. enable or disable automatic download when a new episode appears. The structure of the app is understandable and clear.
The free app is pre-installed on most Android devices and requires a Google account. Then content can be synchronized across devices. Podcast episodes can also be downloaded and listened to offline.
The free app is only available for iOS. It offers a wider range of features than Apple Podcasts and comes with unusual features, such as Voice Boost, so podcasts sound pleasant and consistently loud. There is no big company behind the app, but a single developer who is a podcaster himself.
The app is available for Android and iOS for free and it is also available as a web app. The app has a wide range of features, including creating your own playlists. Additional functions have to be paid for via in-app purchases, but are not necessary for most users. The app can be a bit confusing for newbies.
The app itself is free, but after a trial period, use must be paid for by subscription. It is available for Android and iOS. In it there are not only podcasts, but also audio plays and audio books.
The free app from a German developer is available for Android and iOS. The special feature: the app does not collect any data from its users. In addition, many of the sometimes innovative features were developed together with podcast fans. The app is suitable for podcast newcomers as well as for frequent listeners.
Podcatchers are not suitable for everyone. If you or your child only listen to podcasts occasionally and use platforms such as Spotify anyway, the corresponding app is certainly sufficient.
Before installing a new app, carefully read the descriptions in the app stores. Pay particular attention to which smartphone features the podcast app wants to access and whether that makes sense for you. You can also install and try apps before deciding to use them together with your child. Remember to uninstall the unused apps and delete the account. This conserves smartphone memory and ensures that unused apps cannot track data.
Young people use streaming services for music and podcasts. Audio books are also very popular. Those who don’t feel like reading themselves or want to listen to stories on the go use them via apps and audio libraries. The offer for different age groups is constantly growing.
Unlike audio plays, audio books are read books. Speakers read the books aloud. The recordings can then be listened to via audiobook apps, streaming services, audio files or CD. Radio plays differ from audio books in that the stories are acted out as in a film or series – with distributed roles, music and sounds.
Children like stories – they are exciting, provide role models, and relieve boredom. The special thing about audio stories: They stimulate the imagination and encourage the creativity of young listeners. Entire worlds are created in the mind. Audiobooks are a nice opportunity to dive into stories and other worlds. In the same way, they can take up challenging topics and explain them to children, convey values, provide comfort, train listening skills and contribute to language development.
Many children are read books at a young age and associate these situations with positive feelings. Parents don’t always have time to read aloud. Then audio books and audio plays offer a good supplement. At some point, children feel too old to be read to. Some children and teens have a hard time reading whole books. Others can best “read books with their ears” because they are blind or visually impaired. Audiobooks can also be an incentive for children who don’t like to read to discover books and then pick up a book themselves. Another advantage of audio books and audio plays: Children can listen again and again to stories or scenes that move them in terms of content.
Make sure the audio content is appropriate for children and their age. There are audiobooks (and radio plays) that can emotionally overwhelm, frighten, or scare children. The choice is huge. Consider the following criteria when making your selection:
Use theme filters when choosing and pay attention to the description and age recommendation. Audio stories that have been awarded the Auditorix audiobook seal are especially recommended. An overview by age incl. You can get audio samples of the individual audiobooks in the Auditorix online database.
You and your child can get audiobooks and audio plays in a number of ways. There are free and paid offerings.
Most (public) libraries have a digital offering. Via the so-called Onleihe, which is available as an app, electronic audio files can be borrowed, among other things. All that is needed is a library card, which children and teens up to age 18 can usually get for free at their local library. Audio books are also lent out on site, e.g. on CDs or as Tonie figures for the audio box.
The audio libraries of the public broadcasters also have a large offer. The audio libraries are available as web version or app. In the ARD audio library and the Dlf Audiothek there is a lot of audio content for children.
On the Internet, you can download self-produced audio books and audio plays free of charge at vorlesen.net (also available as an app). Mostly classic stories like the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, stories of Karl May, etc. There is a separate section for children & teenagers. LibriVox makes a similar offer – but the site is in English. German audio content can also be displayed via filtering.
Well-known music streaming services – like Spotify and Amazon Music – also offer audio plays and audiobooks. Since the free accounts often only have basic features, they are not unrestricted for this. Spotify Kids can only be used with a premium account and offers access to child-friendly audio content without advertising.
In addition, there are apps and platforms just for audiobooks. The best known are probably Audible, Amazon‘s offering, and BookBeat.
Younger children in particular can listen to stories via an audio box. New content can be downloaded and uploaded or new figures can be purchased for the Toniebox.
If your child uses audiobook apps or streaming services independently, the child mode should be activated – if available. Listening to audiobooks is also media use that should be part of family media rules. Balance this out so that your child gets enough exercise and variety.
Formerly known as Facebook Messenger the app from Meta (previously Facebook ) is now only called Messenger . It is connected to one’s Facebook account and works like other messenger services.
With your own Facebook account, Messenger can only be used after installing the Messenger app (and not via the Facebook app). Sending messages, voice messages, and photos and videos are possible in individual and group chats. As with WhatsApp can be used to send self-deleting messages that are end-to-end encrypted . Group chats and video calls are protected from third-party access. In addition, via the Messenger Playing online games with friends or Story be shared. Thus, Facebook functions are combined with a chat.
As fewer and fewer young people have a Facebook account, they also use Messenger less frequently than WhatsApp . For Facebook users, Messenger is convenient because they can use one account to reach many other people on Facebook reach Not even the cell phone number of the persons is needed for this. Contact with new or not so close acquaintances can then be made via Facebook can be produced easily.
Theoretically, any person with a Facebook profile can be contacted by all other users. Therefore, there is a risk of being written to and possibly harassed by strangers.
The Messenger requires many access rights to one’s own phone, e.g. to contacts, other apps, the microphone or the camera. Meta has been criticized for processing a particularly large amount of user data and passing it on to companies that use it, for example, for Advertising use This also applies to WhatsApp and Instagram which also belong to Meta belong.
There are some presets that are supposed to provide more security. For example, requests from friends end up in the inbox, while messages from strangers are initially filed under “Message requests”. These messages can be accepted or rejected. In addition, the app filters possible Spam messages out. In the privacy settings, you can restrict the visibility of your own profile and the content you share.
Facebook has a extensive help section with special pages for parents , Teenagers and pedagogical specialists have been set up. There you will also find, among other things, further information and support in dealing with unsolicited messages in the Messenger .
For younger children under 13, the Messenger for privacy reasons, even though it is available in the App Store and Google Play Store is characterized for a younger age. If your child is between 13 and 16 years old, he or she can use the Messenger if you have consented as a parent.
Remember that social contacts become more and more important for your child with puberty and that digital communication The same applies to conversations in the playground or on the way to school. You should decide together from when it can use the app. Talk about risks such as Cybergrooming and cyberbullying and support your child in Dealing with social networks . Educate your child on what they can do if they feel uncomfortable or harassed in chat and always be approachable. Never should your child send pictures or share personal information with a stranger. If your child has an unpleasant experience, show understanding. Think together about what you can do about it. Also use the Privacy settings From Facebook .
Basically, you should make your child aware: On the servers of Facebook and Meta everything it sends is stored. People who work at Facebook work, have access to the messages, for example to check reported messages. As a result, the messages are never completely private. You can also send encrypted messages to Facebook exchange information: Here you can learn how to start a secret conversation.
Also, consider using alternative messengers, such as the following. collect less data – for example, we provide you with Signal or Threema before.
Loud and angry resounds from the children’s room. At the same time, the child is all alone in front of the game console. Maybe it gets upset because something in the game doesn’t work. Or does it argue with fellow players? Then it is possibly so-called trashtalk.
Gaming uses its own language that non-gamers often don’t understand. Exaggeration and drama are of course part of it. Trashtalk is one aspect of this own language.
To be distinguished from trashtalk (in German “Müll reden”) are the terms beef and flaming, which are also about arguing, insults, puns and exaggerations: The saying “Willst du Beef?” means something like “Do you want stress?”, while the term flaming refers to a comment on the Internet that is provocatively directed at other players. Trashtalk refers to certain conversations in online games: bragging after a victory and putting down the opponent. Often this behavior is meant to be joking and to encourage conversation and friendly competition among the players.
Well-known “trashtalkers” think about what they want to say before the game and how they will emerge victorious in the verbal battles. Some gamers are admired for their trashtalk skills. Outside of computer games, trashtalk has been around for a while. In some sports, such insults are common and are part of the game – for example, wrestling. A special Trashtalk has also been based on this at Valorant , Fortnite or League of Legends developed.
Trashtalk in gaming takes place in the digital spaces where people communicate, play and stream – at Discord , TeamSpeak, Twitch , YouTube etc.
Many games are played together with others or against each other. In online games in particular, communication takes place via chat or the microphone. Some use this to insult and incite other game enders in the spirit of trashtalk. Trashtalk as fun can be entertaining and increase ambition between teams. For some young people, however, trashtalk is not fun, but offensive. Since the players do not sit directly opposite each other online, it is difficult to recognize when others feel hurt.
So-called “trolls” use trashtalk to specifically provoke certain game endings. A clear line is crossed in trashtalk when sexist, racist or discriminatory remarks are made. Players hide behind a username and avatar and hate and incite against others.
Kids and teens see with streamers and older gamers that it’s okay to take offense during the game. This can lead them to adopt this behavior in their play. It can go so far that trashtalk takes place outside of online games among friends or at school.
Certain terms and a harsh tone when gaming don’t have to be immediately unpleasant for your child. Therefore, ask questions and try to understand how communication works among gamers. If you notice that your child is being insulted in this way during play or is engaging in problematic trashtalk himself, talk to him about it. Make it clear that there are also limits to trashtalk and that there should be unwritten rules for dealing with each other both online and offline.
Show your child how to block, report, or mute game players (e.g., trolls) in chat. It is best to communicate only with friendly gamers during the game. You should agree in advance whether trashtalk is allowed and if so, up to what limit.
The child in front of the screen, the game console in hand and on the head the headset … – this sight is familiar to you? Then your child is a gamer in digital gaming worlds.
Popular with many children and young people are games that allow them to chat with others online, such as in Fortnite (from age 12) or FIFA . You can create digital communities and teams with friends or with other gamers. You can communicate live via text messages or a headset, directly through the game or with the help of additional programs such as. Teamspeak, Mumble and Discord . Players talking during the game. For example, they discuss game strategies, give each other tips, and pick up praise for skillful actions. Digital friendships” can develop in the process.
Communication during the game trains social skills. Similar to the schoolyard, everyone takes on a certain role: one person determines the conversation, another ensures that there is no argument, yet another person makes jokes. Whether digital or analog, rules must be observed. When children and young people can only talk to each other without seeing each other, they are particularly challenged: Game situations have to be explained in an understandable way, quick instructions have to be given, and agreements on further tactics have to be made.
When people are just chatting in online games, it’s hard to tell who is communicating with you. Therefore, there is a risk of cyberbullying and cybergrooming. Hate and insults among gamers are not a rare phenomenon either. Since the chats in games are not always moderated, i.e. there is no third person to ensure that communication rules are observed, the danger is increased. Players feel safe because they can hide behind an avatar (the name of the characters in an online game). Because for the registration often a name and the e-mail address is enough. A secure age query is not possible.
In the “play frenzy” there is also the danger that your child will disclose private information to the outside world unnoticed. In addition, the incentive is high to want to play on and on in order to stay in contact with his team and to get recognition there.
Pay attention to age recommendations and risk assessments of games. In addition to the age ratings of the USK, use pedagogical ratings, e.g. from Spielatgeber NRW or Spielbar.
As a parent, you are in the best position to assess whether your child is ready to chat responsibly in the game or whether he or she can assess the risks. Observe how your child behaves during conversations outside of the Internet. Also play together sometimes, so you can understand the enthusiasm for a game. The shared experience additionally builds trust between you and your child. Then it knows it can turn to you if it finds something scary or uncomfortable. Also, make yourself aware of the settings options of the game in question. If possible, specify the age of the person playing so that parental control settings can take effect automatically (if they exist). It may be possible to disable the chat function separately. For example Fortnite the voice chat can be deactivated or individual players from the team can be muted.
For younger gamers under 14, consider games that do not rely on online communication. Feel your way in slowly with your child and explain possible communication risks and how to deal with them.
“Mom, can I watch video?”, “I want to play tablet, Dad!” – media fascinate young children and are part of their everyday life from an early age. In the first years of life, parents lay the foundation for dealing with media. Media education is based on the general values in the family.
Babies and toddlers are not yet very interested in media. They seek contact with their parents and explore the world with all their senses. Developmental steps such as learning to eat, walk and talk are the focus. As parents frequently turn to media, such as the smartphone, young children gradually become interested in them as well.
Targeted media use, such as looking at a picture book or video calling grandma and grandpa, usually takes place with young children in the company of adults. More and more, children are demanding this kind of media time together.
In addition to looking at picture books together, toddlers enjoy music and audio stories; they can play or relax along the way. Offerings such as children’s radio programs and audio boxes are suitable for children and a good introduction to the diversity of the media world.
The child’s brain cannot yet process moving images and hectic sounds well. Children are not able to understand filmed stories until they are about three years old. Nevertheless, your child may already be watching series on the tablet or similar together with older children. Pay attention to what your child is looking at. It is best if you are present, can answer questions that arise, or overhear when your child becomes anxious. Children of kindergarten age enthusiastically watch shows with their favorite characters such as Peppa Wutz, Bobo the Dormouse or Fireman Sam. With child-friendly apps and games, children can get active themselves. Such apps are manageable, encourage creativity and can help with learning.
Whether it’s audio, video, or games, choose short, simple, and age-appropriate content. Young children should use media alone as little as possible, because they are not babysitters. If you and your child already know certain content, he or she can listen to an audio story on their own and watch an episode of their favorite show without you sitting next to them.
“Can I use your cell phone?” – Children learn by observing and imitating what their caregivers do. You are also the most important role model for your child when it comes to media use. Put the smartphone aside when playing with your child. Enjoy time with your child and take time outs from the screen. Model a conscious and reflective approach to media. Even children already have personal rights. Ask your child if he or she is okay with sending photos of him or her via Messenger and, if possible, do not post children’s photos online.
“That was too scary for me!” – Children often still have difficulty distinguishing between fiction and reality and cannot yet reliably assess dangers. Some media content is unsuitable for children.
“Just one more episode!” – Children in the first years of life cannot yet control their media use themselves; they need limits.
Based on a long-term study by the JFF – Institute for Media Education on the importance of digital media in families with young children, there is now a flyer on the topic of media education in the first years of life.
By searching the Internet, children and young people can quickly come across content that is not suitable for their age because it is highly sexualized or contains depictions of violence. A specific filter function in search engines – SafeSearch – is intended to prevent this and make surfing safer for young people and children.This filter technology can be activated in most online search engines: Inappropriate and adult content is then automatically filtered out of the search results and not displayed.
With the most popular search engines – such as Google, Bing and Ecosia – you can switch on the filter function very easily via the respective start page and then via “Settings”. There are often two filter levels: Strict and Medium/Moderate.
SafeSearch on Google can be enabled for:
If Google detects that the user is younger than 18, SafeSearch is automatically turned on and can be turned off by parents in the case of a family account. With a Google account, the filtering technology works on the computer as well as on mobile devices (Android and iOS).
At Bing you can also find SafeSearch under Settings. Bing removes inappropriate search results in two stages:
At Ecosia you can access the settings via the menu on the home page, where you could activate Safe Search (Strict/Medium).
If you use a search engine other than the ones mentioned, look in the settings to see if “Safe Search” can be set.
Keep in mind that no filter function is 100% accurate. It can always happen that images or search results are not recognized by the program. When this happens, you can report this content. SafeSearch (on Google, Bing and Yahoo) filters according to American standards. This means that results are also filtered out that are not harmful to minors under German law (e.g. nudity). Results that are not youth-friendly according to German law (e.g. violence) or even punishable (e.g. Holocaust denial) are sometimes reported anyway.
If your child is younger (elementary school age), we recommend using children’s search engines. With the help of these, they can learn to navigate safe websites online before they are introduced to “adult offerings.” Children’s search engines work with so-called whitelists – only those pages are displayed in the search results that have previously been checked for child-friendly content. Accompany your child as they take their first steps on the Internet. If your child is older and moving online on his or her own, regularly ask about his or her experience and be responsive.
At least since the beginning of the corona pandemic, podcasts have become very popular among young people. Young people listen not only to age-appropriate podcasts, but occasionally to ones aimed primarily at adults.
Podcasts are usually audios that can be accessed online, subscribed to, and sometimes saved to listen to over and over again. There are also video podcasts or podcast that are played out as audio and video. New episodes are published on a regular basis. Many podcast formats have a major overarching theme, such as sports, culture, or news. They can be completed stories per episode or sequels. Very popular are, among others, true-crime podcasts, in which real criminal cases are re-told.
Audio formats are easy to listen to on the go and are good at relieving boredom. There are podcasts where people talk about their everyday life or “God and the world” as well as thematic formats. Hearing people are entertained and learn new things. Often podcasts are personal, which makes young listeners feel close to podcasters, similar to influencers on social media.
On the one hand, there are podcasts that are deliberately made for young people and dedicated to youth topics. On the other hand, more and more influencers are producing podcasts, which are therefore also interesting for their young fans. They are called “Dick & Doof”, “Hobbylos” or “Gemütlich Nachsitzen”.
Up to now, podcasts have not had to be age-labeled in the same way as videos or games in order to protect minors. So anyone can publish a podcast with any content. Therefore, regularly ask what podcasts your child listens to and find out about them. Young people have access to all kinds of podcasts via portals like Spotify and the like. Via the platform’s algorithm, other content is suggested that they cannot assess. Podcasts also include more and more advertising, sometimes read aloud by the podcasters themselves or played in by the platforms before or after. Many podcasts are financed through this.
Podcast aimed specifically at young people are usually commercial-free, have an age recommendation, and address topics of interest to young people. But there are definitely podcasts that don’t have a specific age recommendation, but are still well suited for teens. We have put together a few tips:
For more tips on podcasts for teens, check out Webhelm and the city magazine Kangaroo.