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Gaming with the games console? Of course!

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

Nintendo Switch

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

Xbox

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

Playstation

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

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

What parents should pay attention

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

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

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

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

Virtual parents’ evening on 23.04.2024 from 5 to 6 pm

My first smartphone (held in German)

When is my child actually old enough to have his or her own smartphone? It is not easy to give an answer to the question that is valid for every child. This is because, in addition to the usefulness of the smartphone, your child’s stage of development also plays a role in the decision. You know them best and can assess their media experience and general sense of responsibility.

You can find out when the right time is, how to deal with challenges, which safety settings you should make in advance and how you can help your child to use it as safely as possible at the virtual parents’ evening from Elternguide.online!

Join us live at the virtual parents’ evening of Elternguide.online and put your questions to our experts – we will provide answers and be available for discussion. The event will be held in German.

Information and registration

Date: 23.04.2024 | Time: 5 to 6 pm

Speakers: Sophia Mellitzer (JFF) and Sophie Pohle (Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk)

Moderation: FSM e.V.

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.

Registration:

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    YouTuber, Let’s Player, novelist – who is Paluten?

    Paluten – sounds like a breakfast garnish or an accessory from a Swedish furniture store? Far from it. In fact, Paluten can be found wherever children and young people use media – and has been doing so quite successfully for a long time. So it’s high time to take a closer look!

    Who is Paluten actually?

    Paluten is the media alter ego of Patrick Mayer. The Hamburg native (*1988) founded his first YouTube channel under this artistic name in 2012. YouTube -channel in 2012 and began to mainly Let’s Play -videos on various games there.

    The audience was enthusiastic, grew quickly and Paluten quickly became one of the most important German Let’s Players. In his videos, he increasingly specialized in the game Minecraft – and gradually built an entire Paluten world there, whose characters, stories and content he tells and sells across all media.

    Paluten now not only has around 8,000 YouTube videos, but also profiles on Twitch , TikTok and Instagram He can be heard on two different podcasts and has published the book series “Freedom”, which follows on from his video series “Minecraft FREEDOM” and is set in the same Minecraft world. He sells these, along with clothes, cuddly toys, drinking bottles and all kinds of other products in his store, living the dream of many YouTubers: He turns his clicks into money and does so very successfully. The computer magazine Chip estimated the resourceful gamer’s fortune at around €3 million in 2023.

    What role does Paluten play for children and young people?

    For children and young people, Paluten slips into the role of a slightly older but cool friend, who picks up on their interests with his videos. He builds his Minecraft world and invites his followers to join in and be part of it. He picks up on the topics of young people and processes them in short, funny videos at eye level – and always presents himself as emphatically young in his clothing, appearance and language, even though he himself has long since outgrown his target group. Young people in particular, who like to spend their free time playing games themselves, find in him something like a role model who knows and understands their own world.

    His successful career as a YouTube and media creator makes him an idol for young people, who has achieved what many wish for: Becoming rich as an influencer.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    Even if the topics, visuals and language of the videos are perhaps not quite to your taste: Take your children’s enthusiasm for Paluten and its topics seriously. Take an interest and watch a video – or even stack a few bricks in Minecraft yourself. This gives you the chance to find out about your child’s topics and interests and to discuss them. And by communicating openly and respectfully, you will also remain the point of contact if your child has unpleasant experiences (online or elsewhere).

    Nevertheless, it is important to talk to each other about the background of media figures like Paluten: as funny as Patrick Mayer appears on screen, Paluten remains a small company whose main aim is to make money. Many of the videos are pure advertising and the products in the store also generate a lot of money. Of course, there is nothing wrong with supporting your own stars financially – but an awareness of the background and reflected consumption are always good and important.

    And especially when children want to follow in the footsteps of their idols and create and fill their own profiles, it is important to think together about how and what to post in order to protect their privacy online and avoid trouble later on.

    Paluten’s YouTube channel also contains excerpts from films and videos that are only approved for viewers aged 16 or 18. Your child may encounter inappropriate content such as violence or drastic language. Observe how your child deals with this content and support them in dealing with it. Offer your child access to alternative, age-appropriate content. We present other Let’s Play channels in this article.

    JUUUPORT – Help for young people with questions about online topics

    Whether cyberbullying, computer game addiction or data protection: If young people have problems and questions about the Internet, they can contact the youth scouts and experts from JUUUPORT turn. The website also provides information, links and online seminars.

    Advice from experienced young people at eye level

    When young people have problems or questions, they sometimes find it difficult to talk to their parents or other adults, especially about sensitive topics such as cyberbullying or sexting. That’s why JUUUPORT has youth scouts who have experienced something similar and can advise other youth. They have undergone special training on Internet topics and in the areas of psychology and law and can be requested anonymously. If they get stuck, the young people’s concerns are passed on to adult experts who then take care of them.

    Various contact and information channels

    On JUUUPORT, counseling takes place free of charge, anonymously and in compliance with data protection laws. In addition to the contact form on the website, since May 2020 there is also the possibility to get advice via WhatsApp or Telegram chat. Messenger counseling is available Monday through Friday between 6 and 8 p.m.

    The JUUUPORT website also contains a wide range of information on Internet topics. In addition to tips on how to deal with cyberbullying, there is a magazine on various topics such as “Trends on the Net” or “Games”. They also provide a collection of links to other places for youth to go.

    Online seminars for schools, youth clubs and associations are also offered by JUUUPORT. Topics here include “Hate on the Net” and “WhatsApp Stress.” Perhaps there is a need for a seminar at your child’s school or you would like to draw attention to the offer with information material.

    Why not tell your child about JUUUPORT – maybe there are topics he or she would rather not discuss with you, but rather anonymously with other young people. If your child would like to get involved with JUUUPORT themselves and become a scout, they can sign up for training here.

    Media education in plain language

    When growing up with smartphones, consoles and the like, media education in the family is of crucial importance. Offers in plain language support parents in this important task, using clear and easy-to-understand language. We present some websites.

    What is plain language?

    Easy language is a simplified form of German that makes information understandable for people with learning difficulties or other impairments. Characteristics are simple words, a clear structure, a limited vocabulary, supporting elements such as pictures and graphics and the avoidance of technical terms. It was developed to break down barriers to communication and ensure that information is easily accessible to a wider population.

    Information on media education for different age groups on Elternguide.online

    Offers on the subject of media education in plain language enable all parents to obtain the necessary information to accompany their children safely and responsibly in the digital world. Elternguide.online offers clear and easy-to-understand explanations on important aspects of media education for all age groups from 0 to 17 years. The topics range from dealing with screen time and selecting age-appropriate content to internet safety. You can find the Parents’ Guide.onlne website in plain language here: https://elternguide.online/leichte-sprache

    Dealing with social media and co on Webhelm

    Webhelm is a project of the JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik in Forschung und Praxis e. V. and offers articles and information material for educational professionals and parents so that they can support children and young people in dealing competently with online media. Texts on the subject of media and media education can be downloaded from the website. The topics range from data protection to online bullying and social media. Webhelm also offers descriptions of various platforms such as Instagram, Twitch and TikTok. You can find the Webhelm website in plain language here: https://webhelm.de/leichte-sprache/

    Support services for children and parents

    Problematic or illegal content on the Internet, such as child pornography, hate speech or extremist posts, often violate youth media protection laws. It is therefore important that users report such content. Either via the platform itself or with complaints bodies such as the Voluntary Self-Regulation of Multimedia Service Providers. The FSM complaints office in plain language can be found here: https://www.fsm.de/leichte-sprache/beschwerdestelle/

    Whether it’s online bullying, excessive gaming or constant arguments about screen time – media use by children and young people can pose major challenges for all family members. Sometimes it is good to seek professional help. A large number of advice centers are available on the Internet. You can find the counseling services offered by Nummer gegen Kummer for children, young people and parents in plain language here: https://www.nummergegenkummer.de/leichte-sprache/

    Security settings

    The website medien-kindersicher.de provides information on technical youth media protection and gives parents instructions on how to set devices, services and apps to be childproof. You can find the instructions in plain language here: https://www.medien-kindersicher.de/leichte-sprache/startseite-medien-kindersicherde

    Children’s rights in the digital world

    Children have rights that have been enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1989. These include the right to health and the right to play and leisure. But a lot has changed since then. The rapid development of digital media and technologies has significantly changed the way children grow up. Digital media play an important role from an early age. We explain the key aspects of children’s rights in the digital world.

    Understanding the digital world and children’s rights

    The digital world encompasses various digital technologies, from the internet and mobile devices to online games and social media. All children’s rights apply everywhere. Some rights play a special role:

    Right of access to media

    Every child has the right to unrestricted and equal access to the digital world. However, this does not mean that children should use media without restriction. Depending on your child’s age and stage of development, you as parents can agree rules with your child on how long and which media may be used.

    Right to freedom of expression and information

    Like adults, children also have the right to freely express their opinions and obtain information. The Internet offers children the opportunity to obtain age-appropriate information in a variety of ways and to express and disseminate their own opinions. Make sure your child only accesses websites that are safe and suitable for children.

    Right to privacy and data protection

    Every child has the right to privacy. As parents, you should therefore be aware of and considerate of your child’s personal rights on the Internet. Avoid disclosing personal data such as your child’s name or address. Ask your child for permission before you post photos of them online or send them via Messenger. Respecting your child’s privacy also means not checking your child’s smartphone out of curiosity. If you are concerned about your child, seek a trusting conversation with him or her.

    Right to leisure and play

    Digital media offer children a wide range of opportunities to express themselves creatively, learn and network with their peers. Encourage your child to explore age-appropriate platforms such as the Knipsclub photo community and digital play worlds. Ensure a good balance with other activities. Encouraging creative play in the digital world allows your child to develop their imagination.

    Right to education and media literacy

    Every child has the right to equal access to education. With regard to the digitalized world, support from the family, nursery and school is important so that children learn to deal safely and responsibly with the opportunities and risks in the media world. Today, the right to media access is also always a right to access educational media offerings such as playful learning sites.

    Right to protection and security

    Children’s rights focus on the best interests of the child. Children must be protected from all forms of violence, abuse and poor treatment (such as cyberbullying, cybergrooming and hate speech) in all areas of life, including the digital sphere. Special youth protection programs can help to minimize risks. Talk to your child about security risks and problematic content on the internet to empower them to protect themselves.

    Right of association and assembly

    Children have the right to network online with their peers, share common interests and form digital communities. Parents should encourage their children to use online platforms such as the helpando help site or participation platforms that are designed to be age-appropriate, safety-conscious and promote positive interactions. This allows children to cultivate digital friendships and develop important social skills for life in an increasingly networked world – always aware of the challenges and opportunities that the digital environment offers.

    This is what parents should pay attention to

    Talk to your child about their rights. The family plays an important role for children’s rights in the digital space. As parents, you have the task of enabling your child to grow up well. This also includes teaching them basic media skills and values. Therefore, find out about your child’s media use, stay in contact and make (joint) decisions that are appropriate for your child’s age and development. Cooperative cooperation and a respectful and trusting relationship are the basic prerequisites for your child to turn to you as a contact person in the event of problems. Children need to know their rights. Only then can they claim them for themselves and stand up for them. Incidentally, your importance as parents for the development and well-being of your child is also expressly emphasized in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    Further information on children’s rights can be found in a child-friendly format on Kindersache and at Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk .

    Netflix games

    From binge-watching to gaming – the popular streaming service Netflix has been offering an additional service alongside films and series since the end of 2021. Netflix games give Netflix customers access to specially developed or licensed games for mobile devices. These can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or in the Google Play Store as separate game apps.

    In a nutshell:

    • Mobile games for Android and iOS devices
    • Currently more than 50 games available
    • Are with a Netflix -subscription included
    • All games have an age restriction and are not available for children’s profiles
    • No advertising or in-app purchases

    What can the Netflix games do?

    With Netflix games, the well-known streaming provider is trying to offer its customers even more content for their subscription in addition to films and series. To this end, Netflix has acquired a games company in order to be able to develop games itself. To date, Netflix has already developed more than 50 games and plans to further increase the range over time.

    For Netflix customers, the service has the great advantage that it is included in the subscription. This means that there are no additional costs when playing Netflix games. There is also no advertising or in-app purchases in the games. This is also independent of the chosen subscription model. Netflix games are available even with the cheapest Netflix subscription. The offer is not a separate “Netflix games app”, but access to various apps via a Netflix account. If you want to download one of the game apps, you have to log in with your Netflix account and have a valid subscription.

    What fascinates children/youth about it?

    Netflix Games has a wide range of different genres of games, from action and adventure to puzzle, role-playing and strategy games. There are currently 14 categories of games. Games based on well-known series such as Stranger Things are certainly of particular interest to children and young people. Netflix is constantly working on improving the attractiveness of its offering. Recently, the classic games GTA III, GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas have been added to the range. There are also many games that are suitable for children and younger teenagers, such as puzzles and soccer games.

    What does the provider think?

    Since Netflix wants to offer different genres of games, not all of which are suitable for children and young people, Netflix games are not available for Netflix children’s profiles. Parents must download individual game apps to their children’s smartphone or tablet via their adult account. All Netflix games are age-rated in the Google Play Store or App Store so that parents can make an informed decision about which games they allow their child to play.

    What can be problematic about the offer?

    Netflix games has a large collection of different games from various genres. Some of these games may therefore contain depictions of violence or sexual content and are not suitable for children.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    If you give your child access to Netflix games, pay attention to the age ratings and only give your child access to games that are suitable for their age and level of development. Please note that Netflix games can only be used with an active Netflix account and subscription. Make sure that your child does not get access to your Netflix account via this detour and do not give your child the access data for your regular Netflix account to play Netflix games. This is because it could access streaming content that is not age-appropriate.

    When dealing with mobile games, it is generally important to discuss rules on media use within the family. Make binding agreements with your child about gaming, smartphone use and screen time. Use technical precautionary measures to set the playing time and title according to age.

    Coding for kids – learning to program is fun!

    Apps, remote-controlled cars, vending machines – our world is increasingly shaped by digital technologies, much of which is programmed. Coding is becoming an increasingly important component of media skills in order to deal confidently with media and IT systems. Age-appropriate apps and programs introduce children to programming in a playful way with interactive games, animations and small coding projects. Let your child get started and conquer the world of ones and zeros at their own pace!

    Scratch

    Scratch is an image-oriented, visual programming language and an online platform. There is also an app version that can be used offline. The program was developed by the MIT Media Lab especially for children and young people aged 8 to 16 and is designed and moderated by the Scratch Foundation. Scratch enables step-by-step, playful learning of programming. Young programmers can use building blocks to create motion sequences, interactive stories, small games and animations. Scratch is also increasingly being used as a learning medium in schools.

    The great thing about Scratch is that your child can let their imagination run wild with characters, sound effects and backgrounds. The ability to create animations and games is extremely engaging and gives your child the opportunity to create their own worlds. Scratch also offers an online community where your child can share coding projects and be inspired by others.

    More info: https://scratch.mit.edu/

    Scratch Junior

    ScratchJr is a programming language for younger children aged 5 to 7 and enables them to create their own interactive stories and games. In the program, children join graphic program blocks together to move figures and make them jump, dance and sing. The characters can be customized in the paint editor and your own voices and sounds can be added. If you like, you can insert photos of yourself and use the program blocks to bring your own characters to life. ScratchJr was inspired by the popular Scratch programming language and impresses younger children with its ease of use and child-friendly design.

    More info: https://scratchjr.org

    Programming with the mouse

    This website is aimed at children from the age of 8 and teaches programming basics in a playful way, inspired by“Die Sendung mit der Maus“. The popular TV character from the show arouses interest in coding and accompanies the children through the program. The web application uses Scratch as a basis, but does not allow you to publish your own project. Programming with the mouse focuses on entertaining games and activities to impart knowledge in an appealing way. The platform offers structured instructions that guide children step by step through the world of programming. Successfully solving tasks boosts children’s self-confidence and is fun. The website promotes creative learning and makes programming accessible to children.

    More info: https://programmieren.wdrmaus.de/

    Ronja’s robot

    Ronja’s Robot introduces children to the exciting world of programming and robotics – in an entertaining way! The app for iOS and Android was developed by the Kinder Forschen foundation and is suitable for children aged 6 to 12. The app consists of two clever games in which Ronja’s robot named Roberta is the superhero of the code!

    In the game “Roberta rast”, children playfully explore programming concepts and steer the little robot through the digital garden. In “Speak like Roberta”, children learn the computer language (binary code consisting of 1 and 0) and talk to Roberta.

    More info: https://www.meine-forscherwelt.de/spiel/ronjas-roboter

    Does your child enjoy the app? For older children, the graphical programming language OPEN Roberta offers an even more in-depth way to enter the world of programming. Creative thinking is encouraged and your child can come up with their own solutions to tricky challenges. Who would have thought that programming could be so creative? Your child can earn badges and rewards in the game and create coding projects together with other children in teamwork.

    More info: https://www.meine-forscherwelt.de/fuer-erwachsene/tipps-zur-lernbegleitung/ronjas-roboter

    Programming until it gets dark – what should parents bear in mind?

    Coding is fun, but your child can also quickly lose track of time. Establish media time rules together with your child. Programming is learned entirely on screen and usually alone. Make sure that your child maintains social contacts and spends time outdoors to compensate. Occasionally your child may become frustrated when they encounter challenges. Program together with your child, encourage and support them – and learn something new yourself. There are now also school and leisure activities where children can learn these programs. With the search engine for children fragFINN you can find offers in your area.

    Secure streaming on Netflix, Disney+ and more.

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

    Kids and teens like to stream

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

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

    Use parental control settings

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

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

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

    Amazon Prime Video

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

    Disney+

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

    Media libraries of the public broadcasters

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

    Netflix

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

    Technology only partially protects

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

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

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

    Media tips around Christmas

    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? In this article, we give you an overview of offers from the Elternguide.online partner network.

    Using media to combat boredom

    The Christmas vacations can be long, especially when the weather outside doesn’t really invite you to play. You probably have devices such as smartphones, tablets, cameras or a laptop lying around at home. How about you and your child simply getting started, taking photos or filming yourselves, trying out new creative apps and organizing media time creatively? It’s great fun and your child will also learn something about media skills along the way.

    On the website kinder.jff.de there are suggestions for simple media projects that children aged 6 and over can do on their own or from the age of 3 with support from you as parents at home. This is helped by child-friendly video instructions in which the implementation of the media projects is shown step by step. How about a photo memory with Christmas tree decorations or an audio story about New Year’s Eve traditions?

    (Media) challenges in the family

    You are probably familiar with challenges from social media, e.g. dance challenges on TikTok. Children and young people love to take on challenges. Challenges don’t necessarily only have to take place on the Internet, you can also play them at home with your family! Why not try the Top Photo Challenge, the Clip Challenge or the Recreation Challenge? We have made a few suggestions in our parents’ guide article. You can find more Advent challenges on the website of the JFF project webhelm.de.

    Christmas movie tips from FLIMMO

    Your child will probably also enjoy watching videos. If you are still looking for suitable films, series or YouTube clips, take a look at FLIMMO.

    In addition to age information and educational recommendations for all formats from TV, streaming and YouTube, you will find winter movie tips from the Grüffelokind to the Grinch and the Polar Express under the special “Advent tips. A TV evening together can be a really nice family experience, especially when it’s as cold and dark outside as it is during the winter vacations.

    Finding child-friendly answers to questions about Christmas

    Children have many questions and learn early on that their questions will be answered on the Internet. How is Christmas celebrated in other countries? What craft tips and baking recipes are there for Christmas? The children’s search engine fragFINN offers children access to 3500 verified websites, including more than 400 children’s sites. Primary school children can gain their first Internet experience here in a protected surfing room and learn how to use search engines and search results. In the fragFINN Advent calendar, children can open a little door every day, behind which there are links to other children’s sites with Christmas information.

    You can find more playful learning pages in this parents’ guide article.

    A smartphone under the Christmas tree – a good idea?

    Parents must decide individually when their child is ready for their first smartphone, depending on their level of development and experience. After all, a smartphone theoretically opens up the whole world of the Internet to your child, with all its opportunities and risks. klicksafe offers extensive information for parents. Use the smartphone readiness checklist to see whether a smartphone is ready for the Christmas tree. Has the decision been positive? Then find out about technical setting options for Android and iOS and watch the instructions in the form of explanatory videos. All klicksafe information material can be found here.

    Would you like to prepare your child for the first smartphone under the Christmas tree? Child-friendly information on the first smartphone is available in the children’s magazine Genial Digital from Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk. The fragFINN app gives your child a protected surfing space on their first smartphone and gives them access to quality, positive content.

    Are you considering buying a smartwatch as an alternative? Then take a look at this topic from klicksafe. Please note: technical protective measures are no substitute for family discussions and media rules. Stay in contact with your child and accompany them as they take their first steps with a smartwatch or smartphone.

    Using media safely – with the help of technical youth media protection

    In addition to discussions and media rules, technical youth media protection is an important component of media education. Use the screen time and digital wellbeing settings on smartphones to set time limits for the entire device or for different apps and to filter content. The parental control program JusProg offers a precise filtering option for websites and safe default settings for mobile devices and laptops. Google Family Links and YouTube Kids offer the opportunity to make media experiences safer for your child in the world of the internet giant Google. Social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok also offer safety features and parental guidance options. Streaming with the family can be a fun activity during the vacations. Almost all streaming services have certified offers for the protection of minors. Use your own child profiles and the parental control function with the PIN. Detailed instructions for all devices are available on the website medien-kindersicher.de.

    Smart gift giving – tips for games under the Christmas tree

    Which games should I give my child for Christmas? Are games okay for preschoolers? In the family section of the USK website, you will find all the information you need on the USK’s age ratings, the new additional information and how to deal with the topic of games in the family.

    The USK mark indicates the age at which a game does not cause any developmental impairments. The additional information such as “fantasy violence” or “pressure to act” gives parents a good indication of whether a game is suitable for their own child. Educational assessments of games can be found at the NRW games guide. Descriptions of popular games such as Fortnite, Minecraft or Roblox are available on Elternguide.online.

    Would you like to make your child happy with a game for Christmas? Find out about the distribution channels for games and technical precautionary measures. Various settings for the protection of minors can be made on consoles as well as in game stores and the games themselves. Play together with your child and ask them interesting questions about their favorite games.

    The team at Elternguide.online wishes you and your family a wonderful Christmas season and lots of fun using media safely and creatively!

    Computer, console or app stores – distribution channels for games

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

    Computer

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

    Console

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

    Smartphone

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

    What parents should pay attention

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

    Pokémon Sleep – The game with sleep monitoring

    “With Pokémon Sleep, you can turn your sleep into entertainment!”. This is how the Pokémon Company advertises its new game – with success. The Google Play Store has recorded more than 5 million app downloads since its release in July 2023. The catch: the app accompanies children and young people to bed and collects sensitive health data in the process.

    In a nutshell:

    • Game app for iOS and Android
    • Provider: The Pokémon Company
    • free download, in-app purchases
    • USK from 0 years, according to the provider, use for under 16s only possible with parental permission
    • collects sensitive health data

    What can the game do?

    Pokémon Sleep is an app that embeds human sleep in a gaming experience. Players have to help Professor Neroli with sleep research on an adventure island and work together with the Pokémon Relaxo. The app records noises and movements during the night and uses the data collected to create a sleep log. The longer users sleep, the higher their score the next morning and the more new Pokémon appear around Relaxo. Sleep is divided into three types: Semi-sleep, light sleep or deep sleep. In the morning, Pokémon appear that sleep in a similar way. During the day, players can explore sleeping poses, feed the Pokémon and carry out other game activities. The aim is to record as much sleep as possible and thus collect many different Pokémon and poses. The app is also compatible with Pokémon GO Plus, which is the gadget for the game Pokémon GO.

    What fascinates children/youth about it?

    Whether as playing cards, a TV series or a video game – many children and young people grow up with Pokémon and love the little monsters. Pokémon is aimed at young people’s passion for collecting. With Pokémon Sleep, players can get new Pokémons and take care of them without much effort. Getting information about sleep behavior appeals to young people’s love of discovery. Tasks from the friendly Professor Neroli and rewards such as bonus cookies make children and young people want to spend time in the game world with the Pokémons.

    What can be problematic about the offer?

    Consumer protection warns that Pokémon Sleep monitors the sleeping behavior of children and young people and that the game concept can encourage addictive behavior:

    • The app should be viewed extremely critically in terms of data protection. The smartphone or tablet must be placed on the mattress when sleeping. The app collects sleep data from users via the motion sensor and microphone. This is sensitive health data and is specially protected under the GDPR.
    • With Pokémon rewards, Pokémon Sleep is intended to contribute to a regular sleep rhythm. However, the game concept exploits children’s play instinct and can encourage excessive use. The tricky thing is that the last thought in the evening and the first thought in the morning is about the app.
    • The game contains in-app purchases. Diamonds are available as digital currency, which can be used to buy Poké Biscuits and more.
    • As with other sleep monitoring systems, if you sleep all night next to a mobile device that is switched on and connected to the internet, you are constantly exposed to radiation.
    • Pokémon Sleep is available in the Google Play Store without age restriction (USK 0), in the Apple App Store released from 4 years. At the start, a message appears stating that under-16s should read through the terms of use with a parent or guardian. However, children and young people can easily get around this.

    What does the provider think?

    In this test, the data protection website mobilsicher.de proved that the app sends data to advertisers. The audio recordings are saved locally and deleted after 24 hours. However, users’ sleep profiles are stored on company servers. The Pokémon Company states that it does not sell sensitive data of minors for advertising purposes. It is not possible for minors to link their accounts with those of friends. The provider advises you to switch off the audio recording function to save data.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    Protect your child’s privacy online and avoid data-hungry apps such as Pokémon Sleep. Younger children in particular can be very absorbed by this game directly before and after sleep, but also during the day. Children are not yet able to assess the implications of sleep monitoring in connection with digital currency.

    If your child is older and really wants to use the app, please note the following information:

    • Talk to your child about personal data on the internet, check the app permissions together and switch off push notifications on the device and the audio recording function in the app.
    • Prevent your child from accidentally making expensive in-app purchases and avoid using a payment method such as your credit card in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
    • Set binding rules for gaming use together with your child, pay attention to your child’s screen time and limit the time your child spends playing Pokémon Sleep. In consultation with your child, you can also use apps and programs from the technical youth media protection service.
    • And last but not least: make it clear to your child that the information on sleep behavior is only collected and evaluated for entertainment purposes. They are neither precise nor do they say anything about the actual quality of sleep.

    Endless gambling? Which technical settings can help

    “Just a little more, I’m almost done.”, “But if I do this now don’t do it, then it’s all gone!” – Are you familiar with statements like this from your game-loving child? It’s not just colorful game worlds and entertaining game mechanics that fascinate players. Some video games have opaque profit motives with which games companies want to make money. Or there are game mechanics that can tempt players to play for far too long. We will introduce you to the most important mechanisms in this regard and show you setting options for devices and platforms to support your child in conscious gaming.

    Gems and rewards – recognizing mechanisms in games

    How are gamers kept in the game? Developer studios have come up with various methods to achieve this:

    • Many games, especially on smartphones, are so-called “freemium games”: The game can be downloaded and played free of charge. However, there are many ways to progress faster in the game itself. This is usually done with a premium currency such as gemstones or gold coins. Players can earn smaller amounts themselves while playing. This tempts you to spend as much time as possible in the game. Larger quantities can be purchased for real money, which increases the pressure to consume.
    • Some games award a daily login reward for starting the game. If you log in every day, you get a bigger reward every day. If you miss a day, you have interrupted your current login series and therefore have to start all over again – with the smallest reward.
    • Comeback Gifts are given to players who have not started a game for a long time. Such virtual welcome-back gifts reinforce the impression among children and young people that it is good and important to be back in the game.

    With such mechanics, game developers reinforce the “FOMO” effect (which stands for “fear of missing out”) and bind younger and less experienced players in particular to the game.

    The independent test committees of the USK assess the extent to which these mechanics are present in the game and how they influence the gaming experience. The age rating depends on the implementation and the technical safety settings in the game. If these mechanics have a significant influence on the age rating, they are indicated as additional information in the license plate. This includes additional information such as “Pressure to play a lot” or “Increased purchase incentives”.

    What parents should consider:

    Playing is a popular pastime for children and young people. To ensure that your child learns how to handle games well and responsibly, set rules together with your child and set clear boundaries. In consultation with your child, use the parental options and parental control settings on gaming platforms and devices, which can be used to limit the playing time, for example.

    We have collected the most common platforms and their settings for you here:

    Smartphone:

    • Android: For younger children, linking the child account to the parent account via Google Family Link can be a good option. You can use it to manage all of your child’s cell phone usage and set restrictions. If you do not have an Android device yourself, you can also set up the restrictions for your child’s account only. You can specify age ratings for apps and content. A daily limit for screen time can also be set via Family Link. In the Google Play Store settings, you can make parental control settings and control costs such as in-app purchases.
    • iOS: Under iOS, you can set a “Screen time” in the settings and set up parental controls. Please note that a “Screen time code” must also be set, otherwise your child can change this setting themselves. If you also use an iOS device yourself, you can also manage the restrictions from your phone. In the Apple App Store, you can make cost settings and deactivate in-app purchases, for example.

    App permissions can also be managed for both operating systems. For example, you can switch off push notifications for game apps so that your child does not automatically receive reminders to continue playing.

    Console:

    • Playstation: In the “Account Management” of the Playstation, you can make settings such as playing time, monthly spending limits, use of chats and content created by others, age restrictions for games and use of the Internet browser under “Family Management”.
    • Xbox: Even without an Xbox account, you can set up a general access PIN that limits any use of the console. You can also create an Xbox family group in the login area under “+ New”. You can create a separate Xbox child account for each child, for which you can grant individual authorizations. In addition to detailed evaluations of usage, you can set age limits for games and the daily playing time (not only in total, but even separately for individual games). In terms of costs, you can set up pocket money that your child can use to buy things independently (limited by the age limit set), prevent your child from making purchases and have an email sent to you for approval. We also recommend installing the Xbox Family Setting app on your smartphone to get further overviews and setting options.
    • Nintendo Switch: In the “System settings”, you can prepare the console accordingly under the option “Age restrictions” and then “Age restriction settings”. Among other things, age restrictions for games can be set here and chat functions can be deactivated. Here too, it is recommended that you install the corresponding “App for Nintendo Switch age restrictions” on your smartphone to get a comprehensive overview of the playing time and select a maximum playing time. These settings apply to the entire console and must be adjusted to suit the youngest users. Important: To deactivate purchases in the connected Nintendo eShop, you must log into a Nintendo account on your PC or smartphone.

    PC:

    • Steam: Family options can be managed in the “Steam” – “Settings” – “Family” tab. It is advisable to create a separate “children’s account” for your child. To do this, create a new account and enter “I am under 16 years old” and your own e-mail address as the parent’s e-mail address. The account settings can then be made.
    • Epic Games Store: The following measures can be taken in the Epic Games Store: PIN entry for adding friends, voice chat (in gradations), text chat (in gradations), purchase authorizations, content restrictions. You can also have your child’s playtime sent to you as a weekly evaluation by e-mail.

    In addition, many games also have child safety features. For example, in the popular online shooter Fortnite. You can find detailed instructions on devices, apps and programs on the medien-kindersicher platform.

    As a general rule, parental control settings cannot protect against all dangers and risks. Only use such settings in consultation with your child and adapt them to their age and stage of development. Talk to your child about the tricks of the game industry, such as login rewards, and encourage them to use games consciously.

    POSA cards – gaming credit at the supermarket checkout

    They hang neatly sorted in the supermarket, usually near the checkout: credit cards. Whether for telephone providers, Netflix, Amazon, Google Play or Steam – the purpose of these small plastic cards is always the same: they are a form of digital payment. Credit cards are also used in computer games. But how does it actually work?

    In a nutshell:

    • Prepaid cards according to the POSA procedure
    • available in supermarkets and petrol stations as well as online shopping
    • for payment with providers
    • Fixed prices, only rarely selectable amounts

    What is that actually?

    The credit cards work according to the POSA procedure. POSA stands for “Point-Of-Sale-Activation”. This means that the printed code is only activated after payment at the checkout. The code can then be exchanged for credit on the respective online platform. Because it is virtually impossible to trace the original purchaser of the prepaid card afterwards, this type of payment is relatively anonymous.

    What do children and young people who love to play use POSA cards for?

    The games market offers a wide range of paid games for smartphones, tablets and game consoles. POSA cards with credit for individual games such as Fortnite, Minecraft or Roblox as well as credit cards for gaming platforms such as Steam are available for sale. Many additional contents are offered in free games to change the gaming experience. These include, for example:

    • Skins, i.e. cosmetic changes to the game characters,
    • DLC (downloadable content), such as new game modes or worlds,
    • Season Pass, a kind of stamp card that rewards players for completing tasks. A Season Pass can be upgraded with real money to receive more rewards.

    Popular games and their additional content are a way for children and young people to compete with each other. Whoever has the coolest, super rare skin can brag about it. This sometimes leads to a lot of pressure to consume because your child doesn’t want to look bad in their circle of friends. Therefore, set up rules in the family and work them out together with your child. Discuss with your child how much money they spend on gaming. A good way may be for your child to buy the prepaid cards – and therefore their in-game purchases – as part of their pocket money. This will help your child learn to manage their own money and understand the value behind it. One advantage of POSA cards is that there are no hidden cost traps such as in-game purchases when gaming, but only the limited amount of prepaid credit can be spent.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    For children, video games, whether on their cell phones or consoles, are part of their everyday lives. Take your child’s interest in gaming seriously, even if you can’t understand their enthusiasm for some of the games.

    The age rating of the USK is printed on the front of POSA-Cards. Whether in the supermarket, at the petrol station or at the kiosk – the sale of POSA-Cards is tied to the permissible age of the purchaser. It becomes more difficult if your child buys POSA-Cards online or obtains them through friends. Pay attention to the age ratings of games and make it clear to your child that the USK age ratings for gaming are there for their own protection. After consulting with your child, make settings for technical youth media protection on game consoles, apps and games.

    Popular games: FIFA becomes EA Sports FC

    FIFA is the most famous and popular series of soccer video games. A new version has been published annually since 1993. Teams from real soccer leagues can be used or your own can be created. The successor to FIFA23 is called EA Sports FC 24 and is only released for ages twelve and up.

    In a nutshell:

    • most popular soccer simulation game
    • for PC and all popular game consoles
    • Supplement: Web app for PC and smartphone (iOS and Android)
    • newest version EA Sports FC 24 (released on 29.09.2023)
    • new age rating: from 12 years
    • Manufacturer is EA Sports with headquarters in Canada

    What is EA Sports FC?

    EA Sports FC (formerly: FIFA) is one of the most popular games among teenagers. This takes advantage of the popularity of well-known teams and soccer stars. Young people can take on the role of their favorite player and compete against other teams alone or with others in cross-platform online mode.

    What fascinates young people about it?

    EA Sports FC is especially interesting for youngsters who are passionate about soccer anyway and can experience their favorite sport in yet another way. The game establishes a connection with the real teams and players who are idols for many soccer fans. Since FIFA 23, some women’s soccer leagues are also represented in the game.

    Playing together with others and the competitive principle offer a special fun. Exciting are the clear rules that are adopted from the soccer field and must be implemented in the game environment: A foul is also a foul in the game. Various game modes, such as the manager mode, offer the possibility to shape the virtual soccer world beyond the game on the pitch. Here, for example, birthday parties or social media posts can be used to promote careers.

    The most popular mode in the game is Ultimate Team. The attraction is that you can put together your own team of favorite players according to the trading card principle and compete with gamers from the worldwide community. The app allows young people to hone their skills on their favorite team away from the game via smartphone or PC. With EA Sports FC 24, women’s soccer players are now a part of the game mode. Women and men can also be set up together in a team.

    What can be problematic about the offer?

    Just as in a soccer game on the sports field or in the stadium, conflicts can also arise in computer games – for example, arguments or insults in multiplayer or online mode.

    The criticism that a lot of money is at stake in professional soccer and that the sport is losing its importance is ignored at EA Sports FC. The idols and favorite teams are portrayed positively throughout and are role models. The commercialization of soccer is also evident in the online mode: With the necessary money, you can put together your dream team in the Ultimate Team game mode.

    As an alternative for game rewards (e.g. for completed online tournaments), in-game currency can be purchased for real money, which can be invested directly in the game in new players, virtual goods or random-based player packages (so-called loot boxes). Lootboxes are controversial because their principle is reminiscent of games of chance: sometimes the players received in them are better, sometimes worse. This can tempt inexperienced gamers in particular to spend a lot of money in-game.

    In terms of content, the game does not contain any aspects relevant to the protection of minors and has therefore been released by the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) without age restriction to date. Due to the amendment of the German Youth Protection Act (JuSchG), the USK’s review criteria were adjusted at the beginning of 2023. Since then, the German age rating system has taken into account both content relevant to the protection of minors and so-called potential usage risks. This means: Previously, the USK’s review panels could not consider any chat options, in-game purchases or lootboxes. Since the beginning of 2023 this is different – hence now the age rating from 12 years.

    Furthermore, the reasons for an age rating have been transparently indicated by additional notes since this year. These can be found on the back of the games’ packaging and in online stores right next to the age label. The higher age rating for EA Sports FC 24 was justified by the cues “pressure to act” and “in-game purchases + random objects”.

    What does the provider say?

    EA Sports focuses on the sporting and playful character of the game. The provider sees the game as a social platform where young people can share their passion for soccer and build friendships. EA Sports earns considerable sums with microtransactions such as lootboxes. The manufacturer refers to them as “virtual surprise eggs” and sees no need for change.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    Parents should realize that for kids and teens, EA Sports FC is all about having fun together. Play once together with your child and try to understand the fascination. This connects and at the same time provides an opportunity to exchange ideas about the critical aspects of soccer.

    Be sensitive to the potential conflicts within the game. Give tips and agree on rules on how best to behave when communicating in online games.

    Check the age rating of the game. Note that the previous FIFA versions were still tested according to the old USK criteria and were therefore released without age restrictions, although they also contained chat options, in-game purchases or lootboxes. For younger children, the game may not be unproblematic.

    As parents, you should be especially attentive when it comes to in-game purchases. Together with your child, consider whether these are necessary and – if desired – set an upper limit. Talk to your child about the dangers of gambling mechanisms. The popular game consoles also offer detailed protection settings in which purchases within a game can be prohibited.

    Set a good example for your children by controlling your own playtime and making it appropriate. This can help promote healthy habits.

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