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NPC streams – human gaming robots as a business model

Is that a person – or a character from a computer game? NPC streamers imitate characters from games on camera and are paid by their fans to do so. This is sometimes an expensive pleasure for the users.

What does “NPC streaming” actually mean?

The term “NPC” may sound familiar to you: it is one of the top 10 youth words of 2023. NPCs originally stood for “Non Playable Characters”. They are marginal characters in computer games who are basically unimportant and therefore can hardly do anything. They often only have individual movements or reactions in their repertoire and thus appear absurdly robotic.

On TikTok it is precisely these rigid, short movements and utterances that become the attraction in so-called “NPC streams”. TikTokers initially sit motionless in front of the camera in the live stream. When viewers send them gifts in the form of colorful stickers, they react to them – again and again, always the same, with the same actions.

What do children and young people like about it?

What may sound boring at first, enjoys great popularity on TikTok and co. Children and young people enjoy watching the live streams and observing the digital NPCs. It is the same effect that “living statues” in the pedestrian zone have on us: The funny situation of people behaving like statues or game pieces. Plus the brief moment of shock and fun when the coin falls into the hat and the character suddenly starts making strange movements. Some people reach into their pockets and pull out a few coins.

What should parents pay attention to?

The problem with the digital version is that the stickers that are given away to TikTokers cost real money. Some more, some less. However, children and young people cannot buy the stickers individually, only in packs. These must be paid for by credit card or via the app store. Sometimes they are not even fully aware of these costs. A few funny pictures are quickly given away – and suddenly a lot of money is spent. Very successful streamers earn up to four-figure sums for an NPC appearance on TikTok.

It is therefore important for parents:

And once everything is clear and safe, you can simply enjoy a stream together with your child!

Virtual parents’ evening on 04.12.2023 from 5 to 6 pm

Advent special: Smartphones, consoles, streaming and more – tips on media gifts and shared media experiences during the vacation season (held in German)

The smell of cookies, shopping stress, shining children’s eyes: the holidays are approaching and digital devices and games are on the wish lists of many children and young people. What should parents consider before and after giving a gift? Between the years and during the vacations, there is also time for shared family media experiences. How can this be designed in a safe, age-appropriate and even creative way?
We have come up with something special for the pre-Christmas virtual parents’ evening at Elternguide.online: Various experts have put together their best suggestions and tips. Look forward to input on creative children’s websites, streaming, games, safe smartphones, fun family media challenges and much more! fragFINN, the Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia-Diensteanbieter (FSM), the JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik in Forschung und Praxis, klicksafe and the Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) are all involved!

Join us live and ask your questions – we will provide answers and be available for discussions!

Information and registration

Date: 04.12.2023 | Time: 5 to 6 pm

Melanie Endler (fragFINN)
Jo Schuler and Lidia de Reese (FSM e.V.)
Sophia Mellitzer (JFF)
Martin Bregenzer (klicksafe)
Maurice Matthieu (USK)

Platform: The virtual parents’ evening is realized via the tool “Zoom”.

Privacy Notice: Zoom is a service of Zoom Video Communications Inc. which is based in the USA. We use Zoom via the German operator easymeet24. easymeet24 ‘s server is located in Europe. Furthermore, within the Zoom service we have chosen the configurations with the highest data and security protection.
Please also take note of our privacy policy.

The event will be held in German.


    Hiermit melde ich mich zum virtuellen Elternabend von Elternguide.online am 04.12.2023 um 17.00 Uhr verbindlich an.

    * = Pflichtangabe
    Die erhobenen Daten dienen ausschließlich der Verarbeitung Ihrer Anfrage und werden nicht an Dritte weitergegeben. Die Daten werden nach Abschluss der Bearbeitung und Durchführung des Webinars gelöscht. Mit dem Absenden der Nachricht willigen Sie in die diesbezügliche Datenverarbeitung ein.
    Bitte nehmen Sie auch von unserer Datenschutzerklärung Kenntnis.

    Fake News – dealing with disinformation and false reports on the Internet

    The Internet, especially social networks, floods us daily with countless news, messages and stories. In the process, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between truth and deception. Teaching children how to recognize false information on the Internet is a real challenge. This article offers practical advice on how to deal with disinformation and false news on the Internet and how to talk to your child about it.

    Fake News in uncertain times

    The many news items, reports and stories that we encounter every day usually come from television programs, daily newspapers, people in our environment or well-known personalities. Many are spread by lesser-known people on the Internet and through messenger services like WhatsApp. However, the senders also include websites and people who intentionally spread lies or half-truths in order to cause confusion. They deliberately spread disinformation, rumors, or even hateful messages designed to stir up insecurity and deliberately deceive us.

    It is not only difficult for children and young people to distinguish trustworthy news from fake news. Because often these fake news are so skillfully made that at first glance they look like serious news . This can be problematic, especially when it comes to political contributions with an extremist or populist background or when conspiracy theories are spread. Content that can unsettle or frighten younger children in particular is also problematic. Deep fake videos in particular look deceptively real. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize the differences between disinformation, false news and satire.

    Disinformation spreads especially when people are insecure anyway and even experts or politicians do not have answers to all questions – such as during the Corona crisis and the Ukraine war. Fake news often provides the answers you want and can help deal with uncertainty. Unfortunately, they are not true. Questions like “Are the vaccines safe, too?” or “Where does the virus come from?” are answered with inappropriate numbers and false facts. The problem with this is that the more often such articles are clicked on, the more often they are displayed – and people believe them to be true. That’s why it’s important to realize that not everything you read is necessarily true.

    How to recognize Fake News

    Determining whether it is indeed a hoax can be a tricky task. Therefore, it is helpful to follow clear steps to curb the spread of disinformation:

    Source verification

    Check where the message came from and who wrote it. Is the author known and expert on the subject? Is it a reputable website?

    Fact check

    Try to verify the message with different sources. Ask yourself how up-to-date the information is and check where the figures and data mentioned come from as well as the context in which they were collected.

    Checking the message form

    Pay attention to the way the message is presented. Is the language serious and factual, or is emotional language and excessive capitalization used? Does the article contain catchwords such as “lying press” or similar provocative terms? Could the article be meant satirically?

    Verify evidence

    Make sure photos and videos match the message and are up-to-date. Pay attention to captions and whether they actually represent what is being described or are from another context.

    Joint testing

    Discuss news and messages together as a family. Your child should understand that not everything on the Internet or sent via WhatsApp does not have to be true. If you check messages together, it can gradually learn to distinguish true from false. Ask for your child’s opinion and share your own thoughts. This will help you and your child be more confident and prepared to recognize and counter disinformation and fake news on the Internet.

    More tips

    Fake news spreads especially when many people forward or share it. Therefore, you should always consider whether a message can really be true. Here are some tips on where to check Fake News and how you and your child can learn to deal with it in a fun way:

    Yearbook Challenge

    What would it have looked like to have attended a US high school thirty years ago? This question is on the minds of many on the web right now. Under the hashtag #yearbookchallenge circulate on TikTok and Instagram numerous photos in the style of yearbook portraits from the 1990s. Behind the viral trend is a paid AI app.

    What is the Yearbook Challenge?

    In the Yearbook Challenge, users create photos of themselves in the style of an American yearbook from the 1990s using the app Epik – AI Photo Editor. The app uses artificial intelligence to rejuvenate the face and add different hairstyles, clothes and accessories. A challenge becomes who mixes his real yearbook photo under the new pictures and asks the followers which one is the original. Both celebrities and many influencers have already taken part in the trend.

    Virtual time jump inspires young people

    “Just graduated from high school for $6.99! What do you think of the photos?”. The allure of transforming yourself into an American high school teenager is tied to all the myths and dreams surrounding a school days in the US. Teenagers enjoy using AI apps to edit their own selfies so that they look like something out of a high school series. In addition, it is exciting for them to receive photos that look similar to the pictures from their parents’ youth. Many young people also emulate their role models on social media and want to get in on the current trend as well.

    What can be problematic?

    Several selfies are needed for photo editing. The South Korean app developer SNOW is behind the app Epik. Anyone who uploads photos agrees that they will be stored and processed by the app. In addition, personal data must be entered in the app. The AI-generated photos borrow heavily from gender stereotypes such as poses and clothing, and beauty ideals such as smooth skin and symmetrical faces. The AI app erases irregularities of the original images altogether. Full body photos in particular are greatly altered by making them slimmer. Similar to the use of face filters, participating in the Yearbook Challenge can lead to distorted self-perception and unhealthy comparison to supposedly perfect bodies of others.

    How can parents deal with this?

    If your child would like to participate in the Yearbook Challenge, here are some things to keep in mind:

    • The Epik – KI Photo Editor app is free to download, but you will have to pay for the photos. Depending on how fast the images are to be generated, costs between €3.99 and €6.99 are incurred. Talk to your child about in-app purchases, determine together how much money they are allowed to spend in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, and avoid putting a payment option in the stores to prevent unwanted purchases.
    • Talk to your child about the right to your own image. Explain to him that all photos, once they end up on the Internet, are difficult to delete. It is also not possible to control who stores or forwards the images.
    • The app requires access to functions such as the phone’s camera and photos, and collects personal data.
    • Encourage your child to be economical with their own data and think carefully together about whether photo editing can really be done with this app – or look together for an alternative, more data-friendly app.
    • Share unrealistic beauty ideals on social media with your child and observe whether your child compares himself or herself to the edited images or is influenced by them. Make him realize that these images do not have much to do with reality and strengthen his self-esteem to find himself as beautiful as he is.
    • Join the conversation with your child on the topic of artificialintelligence and share your thoughts on the opportunities and limitations of AI-powered applications.

    The app can be fun and creative way to see yourself in different roles and ages. Why not try out different AI image generators together and talk about the results?

    War in the media

    Terrible rocket attacks, traumatized war victims, families on the run – images of violence and destruction from the war in the Middle East and Ukraine dominate the news. On Elternguide.online you will find the following information on dealing with the topic of war in the media:

    Children and news of the war

    The current time is characterized by crises, new conflicts and wars are flaring up again and again. On the smartphone, in conversations in the playground or on TV – children also hear about these terrible events. Keeping children away from news altogether is neither possible nor advisable. Rather, take your child’s questions and concerns seriously and help him or her process stressful messages. In this article, we explain how to guide your child regarding news of war and where to find child-friendly information about war.

    News for children and teenagers

    News programs for adults such as the Tagesschau are not suitable for children. The drastic images can trigger fears and the content is often difficult for children to understand. However, that doesn’t mean your child has to be kept away from news altogether. There are high-quality media offerings that enable children and young people to gain an overview of the current world situation. There, they receive comprehensible answers to their questions and safe, age-appropriate information on global crises. We present recommended websites, videos, audios and social media channels that are specifically tailored to the needs of young people in this article. For an extensive list of child-friendly news on the war in the Middle East as well as the war in Ukraine, visit Flimmo.

    Images of war on social media

    Social media users are getting unfiltered war content flushed into their timelines. Algorithms on Instagram, YouTube and the like mean that even children and young people are unintentionally exposed to content that they do not want to see or that is unsuitable for them. In addition, children and young people actively use social media offerings as a search engine and source of information. In addition to harrowing live reports from those affected in crisis areas, the posts also include disinformation, fake news and conspiracy myths. TikTok is particularly challenging in this regard. The endless feed of short videos encourages doomscrolling, and the platform is used particularly heavily for propaganda and influencing opinion. To learn how to help your child deal with war content on TikTok, check out this article.

    This is what parents should pay attention to

    Stay engaged with your child on current crisis issues, make appropriate news sources accessible to them, and don’t leave them alone with bad news. If your child is older, strengthen their information literacy skills and educate them about challenges with social media use like fake news. Be a role model by using news from verified sources yourself and use age-appropriate information services together with your child. Looking and empathizing is important. But if you notice that it’s getting too much for your child – consciously switch off and help your child avoid excessive digital stress.

    WhatsApp – the number 1 messenger app

    The most popular messenger, even among children and teenagers, is WhatsApp. This is because communication is practical and easy, and many other people use it. Unfortunately, there are a few negative sides to the popular service.

    In a nutshell:

    • free messenger app available for Android and iOS (Apple) and as a web app
    • Registration with cell phone number
    • Options: Send chats, calls, files, location, voice messages and contacts, create group chats.
    • Risks: Disclosure of personal data, risk of cyberbullying and other communication risks.
    • Age rating: USK from 12 years (content for different age groups – chats). According to its own terms and conditions, the app may not be used by anyone under the age of 16. However, this is not controlled by the provider.

    What is WhatsApp?

    WhatsApp is a free messenger. Registration requires a cell phone number and access to contacts’ phone numbers. After that, profile picture and profile name can be assigned.

    The main function of WhatsApp is to send messages to people from your own contacts (address book) who also use the app. These can be text and voice messages, photos, videos, files, contacts as well as your own location. They can be sent to individuals or a whole group. Individual and group calls as well as video telephony are also possible. Among teenagers, sending emojis and GIFs is especially popular. They can also respond to individual messages with emojis. Self-deleting messages can be sent, which automatically disappear from the device after seven days. And there is the possibility to send photos and videos, which may be viewed only once and then disappear.

    Via WhatsApp it is only possible to contact someone whose number you have. When receiving a message from an unknown number, the contact can be controlled using the “add” or “block” buttons. Calls from unknown numbers can be muted.

    With the chat lock function, selected chats can be made virtually invisible. These then only appear in a certain category and are protected by a code, Face ID or fingerprint.

    What particularly fascinates young people about it?

    Young people like to use the app because it allows them to quickly get in touch with acquaintances and family members, since almost everyone uses WhatsApp. Teachers and classmates in class chats, grandparents as well as friends in other countries are just a click away. Users can exchange information with their contacts and see when they were last online. Via the profile picture and the so-called status they can share impressions from their life (similar to Instagram). Fast communication via voice messages is particularly popular among young people.

    What can be problematic about the offer?

    Especially the read receipt function (two blue check marks on a message) can put young people under pressure to always reply directly. Even though hundreds of messages are sometimes exchanged daily in a class chat, this can overwhelm and stress children and young people. In addition, fakenews is often spread via class chats. Pictures and messages are sent quickly. There is a risk that personal data, pictures and videos will be carelessly shared, redistributed or used for bullying. Also dubious sweepstakes, Chain letters or misleading notifications can be problematic – before all, even sexting.

    Since there are hardly any privacy settings on WhatsApp, users have to be careful themselves about what content they send or post in their status. They should only be ones that everyone is allowed to read or see.

    In addition, WhatsApp accesses a lot of information about the users, e.g., the entire contact list in the cell phone. This is how foreign contact data gets to WhatsApp and other people without being asked.

    WhatsApp offers so-called “channels” under “News”. This is a type of group chat in which only the person who created it can write something. Channels are used by celebrities, influencers and companies to stay in touch with their target groups and fans. However, be careful: messages, images and videos that are not suitable for children and young people may also appear on channels.

    What does the provider think?

    WhatsApp, just like Instagram , belongs to the Meta group (formerly Facebook). The GTCs in force since 2021 inform that user data will also be passed on to companies for advertising purposes.

    Certain security settings are supposed to improve the usage: People or phone numbers can be blocked; location tracking and read receipts can be deactivated. Users can limit the visibility of their own profile. Messages are exchanged in encrypted form, so they cannot be easily “hacked” by strangers. However, this only works in individual messages and when the backup – i.e. the data backup – is deactivated.

    In early 2022, WhatsApp announced that group administrators will be able to delete messages from others. This function has not yet been implemented.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    If your child is younger than 16, you must consent to their use of WhatsApp. Make sure your child uses Messenger responsibly. Explain to your child how they can protect their personal information. You should not share sensitive data or photos with unknown people

    Help your child understand the privacy settings and configure them correctly… This can be done in the app itself or in the access rights management in the Android or iOS operating system (in each case under Settings). In the app, under the category “Privacy”, you can set who sees what and whether or not you want to be invited to groups by strangers. It may happen that certain functions can no longer be used if certain accesses are denied. The Privacy Check function gives a good overview of the settings. At www.medien-kindersicher.de there are Video instructions on how to safely set WhatsApp on your child’s smartphone.

    Talk to your children about communication risks and how they can protect themselves from them. Encourage them to let you know right away if they feel they are not being treated right or are being bullied.

    Encourage your child to only contact people they know in real life. Warn against adding unknown contacts. Also, be mindful of your child’s privacy and give your child the space he or she needs. Set a good example yourself by being responsible and respectful with your own digital activities.

    Wenn Sie einen Messenger nutzen möchten, der mehr Datensicherheit bietet, lesen Sie unsere Toolbeschreibungen zu Signal und Threema.


    Snapchat ist ein kostenfreier Messenger zum Versenden von Fotos und kurzen Videos. Die Besonderheit: Das lustige Selfie mit den Hasenohren oder ähnliche Bilder „verschwinden“ nach kurzer Zeit vom Bildschirm des Empfängers.

    In a nutshell:

    • kostenlose Messenger-App für Android oder iOS
    • kostenpflichtige Version mit zusätzlichen Features: Snapchat+
    • Funktionen: kreative Bilder, Videos, witzige Emojis und Filter mit Freunden teilen
    • laut Anbieter ab 13 Jahren erlaubt (nach DSGVO ab 16 Jahren)
    • diverse Kontaktrisiken, u. a. ermöglicht die Ortungsfunktion die Nachverfolgung des eigenen Aufenthaltsortes

    What is Snapchat?

    Mit Snapchat können Fotos und kurze Videos als Nachricht oder als Story an Kontakte versendet werden. Diese Snaps, also Schnappschüsse, sind nur für bis zu 24 Stunden sichtbar und „zerstören“ sich danach selbst. Die Fotos und Videos können mit unzähligen Filtern bearbeitet werden. Mit der „Memorys-Funktion“ können Nutzerinnen bestimmte Inhalte abspeichern. Neben den privaten Storys von Freunden gibt es Inhalte von Stars und Marken. Über die Funktion „Spotlight” lassen sich außerdem kreative Kurzvideos im TikTok-Stil veröffentlichen. Userinnen können über sogenannte „Snap Codes“ sowie über ihre Handynummer gefunden werden, wenn dies in den Einstellungen aktiviert ist. Das eigene Profil enthält nur Bilder und Videos, andere persönliche Angaben werden nicht gemacht. Mit der Kartenfunktion „Snap Map“ kann man sehen, wo sich die eigenen Kontakte gerade aufhalten.

    Wer Snapchat nutzt, ist seit Februar 2023 automatisch mit dem Chatbot My AI befreundet. Dahinter steckt eine künstliche Intelligenz, die Fragen beantwortet, chattet und insgesamt wie ein „echter“ Freund daherkommt. Für die Nutzerinnen kann das ein nettes Spielzeug sein – ist jedoch auch mit Vorsicht zu genießen. Löschen lässt sich der Chatbot nur sehr umständlich und mit einem kostenpflichtigen Snapchat+-Abonnement.

    Snapchat+ bietet für 4,49 Euro/Monat die Premium-Version, dort testen die Anbieter noch nicht veröffentlichte Features. Besonders für Kinder und Jugendliche ist das reizvoll: Es gibt mehr Optionen, den eigenen Avatar (genannt „BitMoji“) zu gestalten, und mehr Informationen über Freundeskonstellationen als mit einem regulären Snapchat-Konto.

    Was fasziniert Kinder und Jugendliche daran?

    Die App gehört zu den beliebtesten Anwendungen bei Jugendlichen ab 13 Jahren. Teenager nutzen Snapchat sehr gern, um sich mit ihren Freundinnen auszutauschen. Dazu werden statt Text einfach Bilder und Videos versendet. Die Nutzung der Spaßfilter, Videos, die mit Musik unterlegt werden können, und selbst verschwindende Nachrichten machen den Reiz der App aus. Snapchat wirkt jugendlicher und verspielter als z. B. Instagram. Die Kommunikation erscheint Jugendlichen privater, da nur mit einzelnen oder in Gruppen Inhalte ausgetauscht werden. Auf der „Snap Map“ werden Personen als Avatare dargestellt, weshalb sie wie ein Spiel wirkt.

    What can be problematic about Snapchat?

    Alle Inhalte auf Snapchat zerstören sich nicht wirklich selbst, sondern sie lassen sich nach einer bestimmten Zeit nur nicht mehr aufrufen. Mit etwas technischem Know-how sind sie auf dem Gerät wiederherzustellen. Oder es wird einfach ein Screenshot gemacht – darüber wird der Versender des Bildes allerdings informiert. Trotzdem kann es problematisch werden, wenn Kinder und Jugendliche sehr persönliche – vielleicht sogar intime – Bilder und Videos von sich versenden und diese z. B. über Cybermobbing gegen sie verwendet werden. Durch die Vielzahl der versendeten Inhalte ist die Kontrolle darüber schwierig. Kinder und Jugendliche sollten daher genau wissen, wie sie die Melde- und Blockierfunktionen nutzen können. Das ist im Falle der unerwünschten Kontaktaufnahme besonders sinnvoll. Unter anderem deswegen ist auch die Funktion „Snap Map” kritisch zu sehen. Denn jedes Mal, wenn man Snapchat öffnet, wird auch die Snap Map aktualisiert. Und aus diesen Informationen lassen sich ziemlich viele Schlüsse ziehen wie Adresse, Schule oder Hobbys; auch von eher unbekannten Online-Freunden. Auch aus diesem Grund ist es wichtig, sich gut zu überlegen, wen man in den eigenen Kontakten aufnimmt.

    Auch bestimmte Inhalte können für Jugendliche problematisch sein. Dazu zählen nicht altersgemäße Bilder ebenso wie unangemessene Werbung oder Snaps von Marken und Produkten.

    What does the provider think?

    Nutzende müssen sich an die Regeln der Plattform Snap halten. Die Nutzung von Snapchat ist Jugendlichen ab 13 Jahren nur mit der Erlaubnis ihrer Eltern gestattet. Es erfolgt allerdings keine technische Prüfung der Altersangabe.

    Generell ist es verboten, nicht jugendfreie Inhalte, wie z. B. pornografische Bilder, zu verbreiten oder zu bewerben. Minderjährige dürfen keine Nacktbilder oder sexuell aufreizende Inhalte von sich posten oder versenden. Sicherheitsprobleme können innerhalb des deutschsprachigen Sicherheitscenters des Dienstes gemeldet werden. Außerdem ist es möglich, andere Nutzende zu blockieren und zu melden. Sogenannte Content-Manager prüfen Verstöße gegen die Snapchat-Richtlinien.

    Snapchat sammelt jede Menge Daten von seinen Nutzern und erläutert das sehr offen in seinen Datenschutzbestimmungen – auch, dass Daten teilweise an Dritte weitergegeben werden. Die Daten, die man über Snapchat versendet, werden bei der Übertragung verschlüsselt. Über das Family Center können Eltern in der App verschiedene Kontrollfunktionen nutzen.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    Über das Family Center von Snapchat erhalten Eltern Möglichkeiten über Kontrollfunktionen, z.B. einen Überblick zu den Aktivitäten ihres Kindes oder die Einrichtung von Inhaltskontrollen in der App. Um sich mit dem Konto des Kindes zu verbinden, wird allerdings ein eigener Snapchat-Account benötigt. Jugendliche müssen der Verbindung auch selbst zustimmen.

    Wenn Ihr Kind die App gern nutzen möchte, sollten Sie unbedingt über mögliche Gefahren sprechen. Regeln Sie, wer die geteilten Inhalte sehen kann und wer nicht. Gehen Sie gemeinsam die Einstellungen durch. Erklären Sie Ihrem Kind, dass versendete Bilder per Screenshot vom Empfänger abgespeichert werden können. Es ist dringend zu empfehlen, dass Jugendliche nur Freundinnen und Freunde zu ihrer Liste hinzufügen, die sie tatsächlich kennen. Eine gute Übersicht zum sicheren Umgang mit Snapchat bietet Jugendlichen das Angebot Handysektor.

    Sprechen Sie über die Funktion Snap Map: Was bedeutet die Sichtbarmachung des eigenen Standorts, welche Folgen und Risiken gehen damit einher und wird die Funktion überhaupt gebraucht? Das Teilen des Standortes kann auch unbewusst passieren (beim Öffnen der App). Dies kann im sogenannten „Geistmodus“ (Ghost Mode) verhindert werden. Auch kann der App die Berechtigung entzogen werden, auf den Standort zuzugreifen. Wenn eine Freundin Ihres Kindes Snapchat+ nutzt, sollte besonders darauf geachtet werden, die Tracking-Funktion zu deaktivieren oder die Person zu blockieren.

    Twitter becomes X – the short message service under reconstruction

    Twitter has been called X since July 2023. Not only the logo with the blue bird is passé, the American entrepreneur and new owner Elon Musk also wants to rebuild the platform concept. The popular social media offering is to become a multifunction app. After more than 15 years, this marks the end of the Twitter brand.

    In a nutshell:

    • Dissemination of public, short tweets
    • use mainly adults
    • Use allowed from 13 years
    • Controversial since the takeover by Elon Musk
    • Free in the browser and as an app for Android and iOS

    What can X do?

    X works similarly to Facebook or Instagram, for example: A profile is created with personal information that others can follow. However, many users simply follow the postings of others. Famous personalities such as soccer players, female influencers, politicians or even journalists have the largest following. Companies and brands are also represented at X. In the “Follow Me” timeline, posts from subscribed channels appear chronologically. The “For You” feed shows content recommended by an algorithm. Unregistered readers can see posts, but cannot follow anyone directly.

    Posts often consist of text only and are hashtagged. A maximum of 280 characters, i.e. letters, numbers, punctuation marks and symbols, can be used in one post. But also pictures, videos etc. can be sent and shared. Those who sign up for the X Blue premium subscription get advanced features such as post editing, longer messages with more characters, and fewer ads.

    The peculiarity of X is that the short statements of mostly well-known people lead to discussions outside of X. US President Trump’s posts are a good example of this. The repost function also plays a role here. Posts are shared or referred to in a separate post. Discussions also often arise in the comments under the posts. In addition, direct messages can be written via a chat.

    What fascinates young people about it?

    X is used relatively little by young people compared to other social media platforms. If they do, they are often politically interested and committed young people. But popular stars and musicians are also on X and post information about themselves.

    The fascination around X is, on the one hand, the discussions, in which things sometimes go back and forth violently. On the other hand, some posts are sent out quickly and spontaneously. If you follow the posts at big events like soccer matches or elections, you get to see the reaction of the spectators live.

    What can be problematic about the offer?

    Personal information and statements are freely available to all. Through hashtags, posts that were actually intended for a small circle can suddenly be seen by very many users. Also, there is a risk that some users may try to contact your child with bad intentions.

    Some discussion on X goes below the belt with racist or sexist posts or comments. In addition to hate comments, the spread of fake news can also be a problem.

    What does the provider think?

    Billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter in late 2022 and wants to transform the microblogging service into a multifunctional app including payment services and online commerce. The terms of use have not changed since then. X may be used from 13 years, according to the provider. There is also the option to block users so that they can no longer make contact. People who post problematic content, such as hate comments or insults, can be reported and blocked. Content moderation has been reduced since Elon Musk took over.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    If your child is under 18, you must agree to register with X. Make your child aware of how to report or block problematic content or people on X if needed. With the option to protect your own posts, they can be seen only by a selected circle. Explain to your child who may be able to see personal information and statements and what the consequences may be. Help your child understand and classify content on X by talking to them about how discussions can get heated and what other risks there are. If your child is interested in X or similar services, look at alternatives together, such as the decentralized microblogging platform Mastodon.

    My AI – The chatbot on Snapchat

    Who Snapchat is automatically friends with My AI since February 2023. Behind it is an artificial intelligence that answers questions, chats and overall comes across like a “real” friend. For users, this can be a nice toy – but it should also be used with caution.

    In brief

    • My AI (“My Artificial Intelligence”) is an AI chatbot on Snapchat
    • The chatbot automatically appears as a “contact” in the friends list of all Snapchat users and acts like a “human” friend
    • Unfortunately, the chatbot can only be deleted very inconveniently and with a paid Snapchat+ subscription
    • Messages and content sent to the bot and location are stored by Snapchat
    • Snapchat can officially be used from the age of 13 – My AI acts adapted to the specified age of the user

    What can My AI do?

    My AI is based on Chat GPT . The chatbot has been publicly usable since November 2022 and offers a counterpart with whom you can talk almost like a person. The chatbot has a natural language answer to (almost) every question.

    The Snapchat variant even seems a bit more “human”: you can personalize it, give it a name, and exchange texts or pictures with it. It is not only helpful in preparing a presentation, but can also find ways to predict the weather or comfort you in case of heartbreak.

    What fascinates children and young people about it?

    My AI works very intuitively and straightforwardly – for children, communicating with a robot like with real friends can be very fascinating. Especially for a quick research or if a topic is on your mind and no one else has time to talk, My AI offers itself and is often really helpful. According to the provider, the AI chatbot has been adapted to give answers appropriate to the age of the user. Other chatbots do not necessarily have this function.

    What can be problematic about the offer?

    With all the personification of My AI, it can be hard for kids to realize that the chatbot is not a real person – nor can they build a friendship with it that goes beyond superficial chats.

    In addition, the chatbot’s answers are often appropriate, but not always correct. It is sometimes difficult for children to distinguish what information they can rely on and where they need to be critical.

    Also, kids should be careful about feeding the bot too much personal information – because Snapchat collects information and stores it too. The location is also queried and used to provide location-based recommendations (such as on restaurants, etc.). Note: Snapchat or My AI also accesses the location in ghost mode – if you don’t want to be ‘tracked’ at all, you have to disallow access to the location in general.

    What does the provider think?

    Snapchat itself states that My AI is primarily a useful information search tool – for quizzes, birthday gifts, or planning a hike. The provider certainly acknowledges that responses can also be “biased, false, harmful or misleading.” He therefore recommends only researching undisputed topics and points out that My AI is constantly being developed.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    As a parent, be sure to discuss the offer with your child. In principle, there is nothing to be said against the use of chatbots – but with a certain amount of caution and an awareness of the limits of artificial intelligence.

    It is best to try out My AI together and explain to your child in detail that My AI is a computer program and not a real person. Give him tips on how to deal with disinformation and verify information from other sources.

    Talk to your child about how to handle their personal information online and determine together what private information is private and what your child should not share.

    The good side of the Internet

    Addiction, violence, conspiracy theories, cyberbullying – sometimes you can get the impression that the Internet only brings out the worst in us.

    But they do exist: the good sites on the worldwide web. The positive and age-appropriate content, the good news, the community and cohesion. We present valuable digital offerings for children and young people.

    With small children on the Internet

    For the youngest users, the Internet is a vast space that is difficult to navigate at first. There is a gigantic offer of pages and content. But beware: most of the sites are aimed at adults.

    Especially the classic access to the web via Google -search engine often leads to results that are, at best, boring and incomprehensible for children, at worst, frightening and traumatizing. But there are other ways: With children of kindergarten and elementary school age, parents are best off turning before Google – and using children’s search engines. The best-known search engines are Blinde Kuh and fragFINN. Here, every search displays child-friendly, vetted sites that are guaranteed to be fun.

    If you are looking for good websites or apps, you don’t have to despair at the flood of offers, but will find recommendations and tips bundled together. Seitenstark features more than 60 tested children’s websites with high standards of quality and protection of children and young people from harmful media. Here children can find everything on topics such as nature and the environment, music and film, history and politics, or religion. The app database of the DJI (German Youth Institute) presents good children’s apps. Those interested in news will find age-appropriate information on news sites for children. The EU initiative klicksafe gives children valuable tips on how to use media safely.

    But the offer does not have to remain purely passive: many websites offer opportunities to participate, such as the safe photo community Knipsclub, the portal Kindersache or other participation platforms.

    Positive content for young people

    And when the children get older? Then, in most cases, inappropriate search results are no longer the problem. Young people are moving more independently online, using social media platforms in particular for information and exchange. There they are confronted with many things – from negative headlines and political extremes to communication risks such as hate and bullying. And dubious role models, unrealistic life goals, such as those conveyed by influencers, can also be problematic.

    For parents, it’s important to stay in communication with their child about what content they encounter online, what’s okay – and where they should rather steer clear.

    Also, parents can give suggestions on valuable sites on the net. If you’re looking for positive news, for example, you’ll find it on sites like https://goodnews.eu/ or ZDF ‘s “Good News”. And thus perhaps creates a balance to the eternal negative news spiral, the doomscrolling.

    There are many people and providers on social media platforms who stand for good, positive topics and values – and also good dealings. Starting with activists like Luisa Neubauer on Instagram for the climate or Raul Krauthausen on Facebook for inclusion. Under hashtags like #bodypositivity, stars like Sarah Nicole Landry convey a positive body image. This can be good for adolescents going through puberty.

    And the great thing is that if you start following positive people and content, the algorithm helps you right along and flushes even more pleasant content onto your screen. This can quickly create a friendlier, more positive bubble where young people can feel more comfortable and safe than in the unfiltered social media world.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    Whether for children, teenagers or adults, one thing is clear: There’s everything on the Internet. The good news and the bad, the beautiful sides and the terrible, the nice encounters and the unpleasant ones. Just everything that people have up their sleeves. And on and offline, we can and must choose well for ourselves what we want to occupy ourselves with.

    Therefore, accompany your child to the net. Use – in consultation with your child – solutions for technical youth media protection such as settings on the smartphone, youth protection apps or special software. This can be used to secure devices and filter out content that is not age-appropriate.

    Show your child the “good parts,” suggest content, and also talk about how they can choose content, why they should choose critically, and the impact the people and issues we engage with every day can have on us. The klicksafe materials, for example, are suitable for discussions about media use or for agreeing on rules with each other.

    And if you do have unpleasant encounters with hate, extremism or the like, it’s also good to know the right places to go. We present these to you in the article “Digital counseling services for young people and parents“.

    Social media as a search engine

    The latest news, preparation for a paper or the weather forecast – check TikTok right away. Teenagers and young adults in particular are frequent users of social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube as search engines. This can work, but it also brings its own unique challenges.

    Social media as a search engine – what can be found there?

    It was taken for granted for a long time – if you want to find something on the Internet, you “Google” it. But that seems to be faltering. Young people are increasingly starting their online searches on social media platforms such as YouTube, TikTok and the like. In some statistics, YouTube even appears as the second largest search engine after Google – and the trend is rising.

    Why? That’s quite simple: Social media is the digital home of many young people anyway. That’s where they know their way around, that’s where they feel comfortable – and that’s why they have great confidence in the search results. When young people search here for products, events or places, the results are mostly (seemingly) personal recommendations and experiences from celebrities or from the community, instead of rather impersonal and complicated web links. This makes a credible and approachable impression on young people. In addition, videos or images are easier and more entertaining than eternal clicking through text deserts.

    Platforms like TikTok and YouTube are responding to young people’s need to be able to search content easily. TikTok, for example, has made the search field significantly larger and more prominent, and now offers a widget for smartphones that can be used to operate the TikTok search directly from the home screen. The term “widget” comes from English and is a compound word from “window” = window and gadget = technical gadget. “Widget” refers to a type of interactive window.

    What can be problematic?

    But how can children and young people distinguish trustworthy from dubious information on social media? Is everything there really as authentic as it sometimes seems?

    Because, of course, influencers are not always the nice buddies next door – but earn a lot of money with their appearances and recommendations. So if a restaurant is praised here with particularly warm words, it may well be that there is simply a particularly lucrative advertising contract behind it.

    In addition, classic advertisements also appear on social networks. The algorithm also still has a say and constantly presents us with similar results – just like other search engines. And caution is also called for in other respects: In addition to serious information, fake news or even deliberate propaganda from various interest groups can also be found on the networks. Social media platforms often collect and collate at least as much data as traditional search engines.

    What can parents pay attention to?

    As a parent, you should think carefully with your child about how to use the search function of social media services safely:

    • Store multiple accesses to different search engines together on the smartphone or in the browser. This allows your child to search and compare results on multiple tracks as needed.
    • Target accounts of credible, journalistic media, verified companies and individuals and encourage your child to follow them.
    • Together, look at accounts and pages of fact checkers such as mimikama.at, who have made it their mission to debunk fake news. If your child knows these sites, he or she can more easily question and verify information.
    • Talk about topics such as advertising, data protection, business models. Helpful offers to talk about a safe use of the offers on the Internet can be found at klicksafe.

    Show interest in your child’s media use and his or her favorite offerings on TikTok and Co. Encourage your child to use social media platforms critically. Only if your child knows the possibilities and also the advantages and disadvantages of different offers, he can choose consciously and purposefully.

    From cyberbullying to hate speech: hotlines at a glance

    Cyberbullying, harassment, extremist content – some app and social network operators can delete images and other content if it is brought to their attention. A crucial step in this direction is reporting online problems. This article introduces hotlines.

    Why is reporting important?

    Reporting problematic behavior or content enables the responsible institutions and organizations to act quickly and protect your child. By reporting, you can help prevent similar incidents in the future, for example by removing a shocking video. In some cases, problematic online behavior can have criminal consequences. Reporting such incidents can help ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.

    What can you report?

    Some of the most common types of online problems that should be reported:

    • Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying involves repeated harassment, threats, or insults on the Internet. This can occur on social media, via email, text messaging, or other online platforms.
    • Harassment: Online harassment can take several forms, including sexual harassment, racist or discriminatory comments, stalking, or unwanted messages.
    • Violence in the media: There are age restrictions for depictions of violence in the media, which are regulated by the protection of minors in the media. Films and computer games are given age labels to make it clear that the content depicted is only suitable for children over a certain age.
    • Hate speech and extremist content: Content that promotes hate, violence or extremism should be reported to curb the spread of such ideas.
    • Sexual violence against minors: If you come across content that contains sexually explicit images or videos of minors, you should report it immediately, as it is a serious crime.
    • Identity Theft: If you suspect that your personal information has been stolen or that someone is misusing your identity online, this is a serious issue that should be reported.
    • Violations of usage policies: Many online platforms have usage policies that prohibit certain behaviors. Violations of these rules should be reported so that the platforms can take action.
    • Radicalization or self-harm: If you see evidence of radicalizing content or content for self-harm or suicide, it is important to report it to potentially save lives.


    You can always report a problem directly in the app where it occurs. For example, if it violates the usage policy, threatens security, or harasses. Or when it is urgent and requires immediate action. Reporting in the app enables faster response and action from app administrators. To do this, look for an option like “Report,” “Send feedback,” or “Help” – these are often located in the app’s settings or menu.

    In addition, there are official hotlines set up specifically to report problematic online behavior:

    Help with stress on the net: jugend.support

    Young people and parents can report online problems such as cyberbullying, harassment or inappropriate content to the contact point. The website provides clear guidance and resources to help parents understand and carry out the reporting process. You will also find information on the rights of children and young people in the digital space.

    Pornography, depictions of violence or hate speech: FSM Complaints Office

    The FSM is an institution concerned with the protection of children and young people in the media. The FSM’s complaints office enables parents and other users to report problematic content on the Internet. The complaints office examines the reports and can take action to stop the dissemination of problematic content if necessary.

    Violations of youth protection regulations: jugendschutz.net

    This government agency deals with the protection of minors from harmful media in Germany. Here you can report violations related to content harmful to minors. The website provides clear guidance and advice on how to report problematic content. In addition, jugendschutz.net informs about current developments in the field of youth media protection.

    Illegal content: Internet Complaint Center

    The Internet Complaint Center is a central point of contact for reporting illegal content on the Internet, especially in connection with child sexual abuse. It works closely with the relevant law enforcement agencies to remove such content and prosecute offenders.

    What should parents do?

    Familiarize yourself with the various reporting options. Do not hesitate to take advantage of them. Educate your child about potential conflicts online. Encourage it to tell you about problems. Use parental control settings and programs.

    Keep an eye on your child’s online activities and stay in the loop so you can respond to problems early.

    In addition, if you feel overwhelmed or unsure about how to deal with certain online issues, you can seek counseling services. There are some counseling services for youth and parents. The number against sorrow offers, for example, a youth counseling service and a parents’ hotline for problems such as excessive demands, worries or parenting problems.

    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.

    Your child’s privacy on the net

    Sharing children’s photos online, chatting in Minecraft or setting up the first smartphone – in everyday family life with media, there are many points of contact with the topic of privacy. But what exactly does privacy mean? And what can parents do to adequately protect their child’s privacy on the Internet? That’s what this article is about.

    Personal shelter

    When we talk about privacy, we mean the personal space in a person’s life. That’s the part that’s around us where we can do things privately. In the realm of privacy, we can live our lives the way we want without it being anyone else’s business.

    Privacy on the Internet

    While we protect ourselves from prying eyes at home with curtains, there are other things we need to watch out for in the digital world. Maintaining privacy on the Internet specifically means protecting personal information and activities online. This includes personal data such as name, age, address and other private details. This starts even before birth with the sharing of ultrasound pictures, continues with the use of baby monitor apps and ends with smart toys in the nursery. As soon as your child is consciously on the Internet, you should discuss the topic of privacy on the Internet with him or her and explain to your child how to handle private information and online activities prudently. Make it clear to your child that he or she should not share personal details with strangers. Educate your child about scamming online. Make them aware of how they can recognize subscription traps, fake sweepstakes and the like in order to prevent the criminal misuse of their own data.

    Smartphone settings for more protection

    By the time they move on to secondary school at the latest, many children receive their first smartphone of their own. Depending on which phone your child has (Apple or Android), there are ways to set certain settings for apps to protect privacy:

    • Check the privacy settings of the smartphone together with your child.
    • Data economy contributes significantly to the improvement of privacy. Look together at what permissions the apps have and reflect on whether those accesses are necessary. Restrict access to individual rights, for example, location or contacts.
    • When your child was last online is not necessarily anyone’s business. Messengers like WhatsApp offer such a function. You can set WhatsApp settings to not show this information.
    • To prevent unauthorized access to one’s data, it is important to set up strong passwords for accounts and the cell phone. You can find out everything you need to know in our article “Safe is Safe: Passwords on the Net“.

    Your child’s social life online

    In today’s connected world, it is very important to protect your child’s privacy, especially when using social media platforms:

    • Set profiles on social media platforms so that only friends can see personal information.
    • Talk to your child about the potential risks of sharing private information.

    Solutions for technical youth media protection such as parental control programs or the accompanied mode on TikTok are one way to increase your child’s safety when using media. However, they do not replace your responsible role in media education. An open conversation between you as parents and your child about what they are experiencing online is very important to help them navigate the web safely and responsibly.

    Stories on Instagram, WhatsApp and Co.

    Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp are used by many young people. All of these services offer a particularly popular function: the creation of so-called Stories. Snapchat had them first, but since Instagram, every teenager knows them.

    What is a story?

    The “Story” is for sharing current experiences with others. You don’t post a single photo in the chat or in your channel, but upload photos or videos in a story, which are displayed in an automatically running sequence. Subscribers or contacts can usually see them only for 24 hours.

    You can decorate your story with all kinds of means – depending on your talent and taste. The apps mentioned above offer similar options here, such as captions, emojis, location markers, linking people, filters, funny stickers, or even polls.

    What’s so exciting about that?

    Stories often seem very realistic or close to the lives of others. It can be especially exciting to see what’s going on with your favorite influencer and girlfriends. When you just experience something exciting or beautiful that you would like to share with your friends or followers, the story is a popular tool. Because with pictures and videos a little story can be told.

    What is important to keep in mind?

    Since Stories deletes itself after 24 hours, the inhibition threshold is lower to publish rather unflattering, embarrassing and private pictures or videos of oneself. The rule here is: Think first, then post! Only pictures and clips that could easily be seen in the newspaper or on television should be published.

    But the possibilities of the Story function can also endanger privacy: The location marker can be used to track where you are at any given time. Unpleasant or dangerous situations can quickly arise, for example, if someone comes to the linked location and seeks out your daughter or son.

    Here it helps to agree on rules. Clear rules about what is posted and when create orientation. It doesn’t always have to be at the same moment that a photo is taken! Consider establishing cell phone-free zones with the family where family life can be spent undisturbed and private.

    To protect privacy, make sure your (minor) child’s account is set to private. This way, his stories can only be seen by his own followers. It is best to create the user account together with your child, set up the privacy settings and check the security settings.

    Talk openly about the potential dangers of careless posting so your child can understand rules of behavior. Your child will then know that you, as parents, are the first point of contact in the event of cyberbullying, harassment or disturbing content.

    The content from the stories of your child’s favorite influencers and friends should also be critiqued. Talk to him about it and consider together how calculated a snapshot is likely to be among stars and influencers.

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