Elternguide Logo

The “I write in block letters” learning app

“Dad, how do you spell “sister”?” – many children around preschool age are inquisitive when it comes to learning to write. The first attempts with a piece of paper and pen can sometimes be frustrating. It takes a bit of practice until all the letters are clearly recognizable and your child finds his or her own print writing. The learning app I write in block letters want to help with this.

In a nutshell:

  • Lernapp for Android and iOS
  • Full version available in the Play Store for €4.99 and in the App Store for €5.99
  • Age recommendation from 4 years
  • available in different languages

What can I write in print?

I write in print is a learning app for children to learn how to write and read print. There are five different categories. The simplest category is about tracing simple symbols. Basically, in each category, your child will be shown how to move their finger. If it has done its task well, it is rewarded with small funny animations that it can influence a little itself. The next categories are similar in structure and include the alphabet in upper and lower case letters and the numbers from zero to nine. Different fonts are available, for example Germany (North), Germany (Bavaria) or German Switzerland.

In addition, your child is always told which letter or number is currently visible via audio playback. The last category then involves writing whole words. This is where the special functions of I write in print come into their own, because you can configure many things yourself in the app. You can add as many words as you like to the already given words. You can also record the corresponding audio playbacks yourself. Also, the app supports different user accounts, so multiple children can use the app at the same time. I write in print even saves all the children’s input – so you can see in reports what tasks your child does, how accurate they were and if there are any possible sources of error.

What fascinates children about the offer?

At the latest when your child comes into contact with older children, e.g. with older siblings who can already write, the desire arises in many to be able to handle pen and paper themselves. The learning app gives playful practice in writing and reading print, which the children often enjoy very much. The “5 star mode” with increasing difficulty motivates children to become better and better and to receive a star as a reward for each successful attempt.

What can be problematic about the offer?

The app is recommended for ages four and up, but writing and reading are actually taught in elementary school. Children who already have skills by then tend to be bored frequently in class. However, it is a good sign if your child is enthusiastic about learning and wants to learn to write.

What does the provider think?

The app developer L’Escapadou claims not to store user data outside the app. The app is ad-free and offers a variety of settings to adjust the learning app to the child’s learning progress. For example, the appearance, sounds, animations and speeds of the tasks can be customized. In the “5-star mode”, the difficulty level can be changed. A parental lock ensures that the child stays on task. The game time limit shortens the game with the animations per task to a few seconds or minutes. A PDF can be created from the tasks and printed out to practice writing with pen and paper as well.

What should parents pay attention to?

If your inquisitive child already feels the desire to learn to read and write before starting school, you should be positive about it and support him or her. I write in print is a child-friendly program that introduces children to writing in a playful way. However, some parents tend to expect too much from their children too soon. Your child does not need to be able to read and write before school! After all, that’s what school is for.

When your child goes to school, the app can be a good companion to the lessons. Writing on the tablet or smartphone with your finger is fun for kids. At the latest in school, it must learn to write with a pen. If your child is advanced, use a tablet pen or create individual worksheets from the app so your child can practice with the writing device in parallel.

In any case, accompany your child during the first steps and be available for questions.

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.

The age ratings of the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation (USK) – what’s behind them

The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) is the voluntary self-regulation body of the games industry. It is responsible for age rating reviews of digital games in Germany.

What does the USK do?

The USK is recognized as a competent self-regulator under both the German Federal Youth Protection Act and the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media. In the area of the German Youth Protection Act, state representatives issue the statutory age ratings at the end of a USK procedure on the recommendation of independent youth protection experts.

In addition, the USK assigns age ratings within the international IARC system (International Age Rating Coalition) for online games and apps. In addition, the USK supports companies from the games industry in complying with and further developing the protection of minors in the gaming sector, for example in the area of technical protection of minors, and is involved in the area of media education, among other things with initiatives such as the Elternguide.online.

How is a game reviewed and who decides on the age rating?

The games applied for USK testing are played through completely by trained volunteer reviewers and then presented to a testing panel that is independent of the games industry. The review panel consists of four youth protection experts and one permanent representative of the supreme state youth authorities (OLJB). The youth protection experts come from academia, media education, church institutions and youth facilities, and have experience in working with media and with children and young people. After extensive discussion, the youth protection experts recommend an age rating. The OLJB Permanent Representative may adopt or appeal this age release. Subsequently, the USK receives the test result and communicates it to the applicants. If they also do not appeal, triggering a new review, the game will receive the legal age rating by the OLJB’s Permanent Representation to the USK.

In the online area, the USK assigns age ratings within the framework of the international system IARC (International Age Rating Coalition). This is an association of the various organizations responsible for age rating worldwide, such as ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) in the USA, PEGI (Pan European Game Information) in Europe, ClassInd (Classificação Indicativa) in Brazil, GRAC (Game Rating and Administration Committee) in South Korea, ACB (Australian Classification Board) in Australia and the USK in Germany. At IARC, online game and app providers go through a questionnaire on content relevant to youth protection. An age rating is then issued from the respective entries according to the specifications and criteria of the respective national self-regulation (for Germany, the USK). In all distribution platforms connected to this system, age ratings from the USK are thus available. Connected systems include the Google Playstore, Nintendo eShop, Xbox Store, Sony Playstation Store, and Oculus Store.

What criteria are used to test digital games?

There are set criteria for the age rating of digital games. These guiding criteria are decided and adapted by the USK’s advisory board, which is made up of various social groups. The guiding criteria serve as a basis for review panels in assessing the risks of possible developmental impairment to children and adolescents when playing games that are not age-appropriate. They provide support in the decision-making process.

The focus is on the presumption of impact, i.e. the extent to which young people’s development could be impaired or even endangered. These include criteria such as the atmosphere in the game, violence or pressure to act. Since 2023, so-called “usage risks”, for example functions such as chats, in-game purchases or location sharing, have also been taken into account in the youth protection review and can have an influence on the age rating. More information about the USK’s guiding criteria can be found on the USK’s website.

What are the age labels?

The age rating symbols awarded include USK 0 (released without age restriction), USK 6, USK 12, USK 16 and USK 18 (no youth rating).

  • USK 0: Games without age restriction (USK 0) must not contain any content that is harmful to children from a youth protection perspective.
  • USK 6: Games with a USK 6 age rating are usually already more exciting and competitive.
  • USK 12: Games with the age rating USK 12 can already be significantly more combat-oriented or darker in design.
  • USK 16: Games with an age rating of USK 16 often show realistic violence, armed combat with a storyline or military missions and are therefore not suitable for children.
  • USK 18: These games are intended for adults only, as they may be harmful to minors.

Since January 2023, the USK’s age rating labels have included additional information about the reasons for the age rating as well as existing online functions in the game. In this way, parents can see at a glance which reasons led to the age rating (for example, “comic book violence” or “pressure to act”) and which risks should be kept in mind when using media (for example, “chats”, “in-game purchases” or “location sharing”). The notices can be found on the back of the game packaging, on the corresponding online platforms and in the USK title database.

What do USK age ratings mean for families?

In principle, the state does not regulate with its age labels how and what media content parents make available to their children at home. However, parents should only give or allow their children to play games that have an appropriate age rating. However, the labels do not provide any information about the difficulty level of a game or its respective pedagogical suitability. An educational assessment on digital games is provided, for example, by the NRW Game Guide, which is funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Three tips for parents from the USK:

  • Pay attention to the USK age rating and additional information These provide information about the safety of a game for certain age groups and at the same time inform about possible additional features.
  • Use technical parental control settings : Within games, as well as on many popular platforms, consoles or devices, functions such as chats or purchasing options can be restricted or disabled.
  • Play along: Play the game together initially and stay in conversation about it. This gives you the opportunity to track your child’s fascination with digital games. It also promotes your own media competence along the way!

Popular games: Minecraft

Minecraft is a kind of Lego for the computer or tablet, where you can create your own world from virtual blocks with a lot of creativity and skill.

In a nutshell:

  • Strategy game in which you have to collect raw materials to build your own world from them
  • USK age recommendation from six years old
  • available online or offline
  • Minecraft is available for the computer from €29.99. The premium version with cosmetic content costs 39,99€. The app costs about 8,- € for Android or iOS

What is Minecraft?

The game world in Minecraft consists mainly of cubes or blocks. These are always the same size, but is procedurally generated and thus looks different in each run. The world in Minecraft is made of different materials, for example, wood or earth. In different modes, these cubes are used differently:

In creative mode, players combine these cubes and build houses, models, or even working computers. In this way, they create their very own world, which they shape creatively and change constantly. This function is now even used by schools for learning. The materials used do not have to be collected, they are directly available to the players and can be used infinitely.

In survival mode, thanks to the tools, players can fight monsters and hide at night in the hut they built themselves. The big difference to the creative mode here is that the materials have to be collected by yourself and additionally a hunger bar and life bar have to be managed. Also, many of the items, such as chests, swords, doors, stoves, etc. must first be made. The level of difficulty can be adjusted so that there is something for every age group. This can be adjusted at any time in the game menu.

Minecraft can be played online with others, or offline alone. The current version of the game is 1.20.1.

What fascinates children and young people about Minecraft?

Despite the simple graphics, which consist only of large pixels, Minecraft is very popular among children from about ten years old. Minecraft sets no limits to creativity. Players can create their very own virtual world and get excited about constructing landscapes and buildings and acquiring the raw materials they need. Playing with others especially challenges competition and strategy, but creating worlds together can also be a lot of fun and requires that you coordinate with each other.

What can be problematic about Minecraft?

Minecraft is released by the USK from the age of six. How well children cope with the game depends, among other things, on the game mode they choose: While Creative and Adventure modes are easy to handle, Survival and Hardcore modes are more about defense and survival. Here you have to overcome obstacles such as encountering monsters, which brings a certain tension.

Since the game doesn’t set its own limits, e.g. through different levels, it tempts you to play endlessly and lose yourself completely in the virtual world. Also, the control of the game can be difficult for inexperienced.

Minecraft offers in-app purchases, e.g. via the “Minecraft Marketplace”, the “Minecraft Marketplace”. This is a platform where gamers can buy skins, mini-games and other content. One popular offering is PvP maps, where players compete against each other in game worlds according to the “player vs. player” principle. Such paid elements are appealing to kids and teens because they enhance the gaming experience.

Some paid offers are unsuitable for younger children, for example, the “Scary Mods”, which makes the game environment more exciting with creepy creatures, gloomy environments, eerie sounds and events.

What does the provider say?

Minecraft belongs to Microsoft. Auf der Webseite gibt es die Datenschutzerklärung und Nutzungsbedingungen auf Deutsch. Data is processed and used for product improvement and may also be shared.

What should parents pay attention to?

The game is designed to encourage creativity and problem-solving skills. In Sweden, it’s even on the curriculum. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind as a parent:

Younger children should be accompanied while playing in the beginning and should rather use the creative mode or easier difficulty levels of the survival mode. For older children, the hardcore mode may come into question later.

As always with media use, keep an eye on how much time your child spends playing. Make sure to adhere to set media use times and discuss together as a family which modes your child is allowed to play. Make sure the content is age-appropriate and control what content your child is allowed to purchase and use. Some offers in the “marketplace” are not suitable for younger children.

Players can communicate with each other in Minecraft using the chat function. In the process, children are exposed to communication risks such as conflicts, cyberbullying, but also cybergrooming. Talk to your child about being respectful in chat, encourage them to block and report inappropriate messages. This way, your child can protect themselves from harassment. Explain to your child that he or she should not disclose personal information such as name and address in the chat.

Using the Parental Control feature of a Microsoft account, communication functions can be restricted to friends only or disabled completely. Access to in-game purchases can also be controlled via the control function.

The game was tested for accessibility as part of the Gaming without Borders project. In the areas of comprehension, control and hearing, Minecraft already does a lot right in terms of accessibility, according to the test results. The game is quite suitable for children and young people with impairments. However, some hurdles were identified in the “vision” area, making it difficult for people with visual impairments to use. However, Mojang as a developer studio is also interested and working to build accessibility.

Game sites on the net – between fun, games and advertising

Digital games are a popular pastime among children and young people. People also like to play via the Internet. There are various game sites on the net where children can play, some for free and some for a fee. Beim Spiel allein oder im Team werden verschiedene Fähigkeiten gefördert, aber vor allem sogenannte Multiplayer-Spiele bergen auch Gefahren wie Mobbing.

Free sites with lots of advertising and questionable data protection

Many games portals that are particularly popular with children and young people, such as spielaffe.de, are financed by advertising. This is the only way they can offer the games for free. In return, children are confronted with many advertisements and links to external partners. Not every child is able to distinguish advertising from the actual content of the website and may thus unintentionally end up on other pages.

Play monkey is not made specifically for children. Not all games are suitable for every age of child, but still achievable. One problem here is that games that are offered online do not yet have to be provided with an age rating.

Younger children in particular are likely to be overwhelmed by the wide range of products and the many colorful pictures and buttons on spielaffe.de. The chat with other users is only possible after prior registration – but you can also play without registration. The section with information for parents and children on how to use the site safely is hard to find – at the very bottom left.

Even if Spielaffe does not collect data directly, data is collected and passed on via the integrated external pages, such as Facebook. The situation is similar at spielzwerg.de and spielkarussell.de. When registering, parents are not asked whether they agree that their children who are not yet of age can play here.

Many of the games offered on such portals also work with outdated gender stereotypes. There is often a category “girl games”, where you can find games about household or beauty. None of the three websites are displayed directly in a search with the fragFINN child search engine. Websites that are otherwise harmless for children can be found via fragFINN.

What you should pay attention to as a parent

Despite all the risks, children and young people like to use these sites – certainly also because of the large selection of games. Try to understand your child’s fascination with these sites and show interest without ignoring the dangers. Help your child recognize advertising and agree on rules for using such sites. Install ad blockers and check out what educators have to offer and what they think. Online services such as the initiative Gutes Aufwachsen mit Medien (Growing up well with media ) or the Seitenstark community offer help here. Educationally valuable offers can be found via fragFINN and the Blind Cow, among others.

Let’s Plays on Video Platforms – Influencers in Portrait

Chips and popcorn out, off to the sofa – we watch computer games. Read correctly: PC games can be played not only by yourself. If you want, you can also watch others play – the so-called Let’s Plays . Let’ s players are sometimes real stars and earn a lot of clicks and money by filming themselves playing and letting others watch.

What do influencers do in Let’s Plays?

Let’s Plays have been around almost as long as there have been computer games. The name for it originated around 2007 and is a neologism from the English request “Let’s play”, i.e. “Let’s play (together)”. Let’ s players are something like the explaining bears of the computer game scene. They play games, show their strategies and tricks, contribute a few opinions and comments of their own – and post the whole thing as a video on platforms like YouTube or Twitch online.

Sometimes the gaming stars document their gaming activities live and talk to their audience in parallel, sometimes they produce ready-made videos and the exchange takes place in the comment column.

Who is actually playing?

Let’s players can actually be anyone who has a video game and a camera. In the meantime, there is an almost unmanageable number of gamers who invite you to play and discuss together.

However, some of them have achieved particular fame and are partly known beyond the computer game scene.

Gronkh about is a name that certainly many have heard before. Erik Range, as his real name is, was one of the first German Let’s Players and has been active on his YouTube channel since 2010. Around five million subscribers accompany him on his digital adventures. In addition to his Let’s Play videos, the trained IT specialist is also a computer game developer himself, has founded several companies and won various awards for his videos.

Simon Unge (real name Simon Wiefels) has been involved in the online video scene since 2011. He mainly played the open-world game Minecraft on his channels and also organized various large-scale projects with other gaming stars in it. Unge caused some media buzz in 2014 due to a public conflict with his network Mediakraft Networks, he reaches about 2 million fans through his various channels.

Elias “Eli” Nerlich, on the Internet as EliasN97 or Eligella , once started as an e-sportsman and participated so successfully in FIFA -competitions that he became a professional player for Hertha BSC. Since 2017, he has also let other FIFA fans watch him kick digital balls on his YouTube channel, where he has nearly 1.5 million subscribers.

And why do children and young people watch it?

Let’s Play videos are very popular among game-savvy kids and teens (but also among an older audience). Here they can learn about a game and form an opinion, can pick up tips for specific tasks or challenges, or just watch because it’s fun.

But let’s play videos are not only watched because of the games: The Let’s players themselves are often real stars as well. They often have a specific theme, so they primarily play games from a specific genre. Many comment on their videos in a very funny or entertaining way, making it an experience all its own. Their fans are therefore often loyal followers who also find a community among themselves in which to exchange ideas and make friends over a shared hobby – while the gaming influencers themselves sometimes earn a lot of money from advertising, merchandise or events.

What should parents pay attention to?

Watch Let’s Plays together with your child. This will help you get a feel for what excites your child about their favorite influencers. In addition: Let’s Play videos can also be a good way for you parents to get an insight into a hobby of your child and maybe start a conversation about it.

If your child is younger, make sure they don’t watch Let’s Play videos of games that aren’t yet rated for their age. Talk to your child about how gaming stars make their money and help them critically examine product placements and advertising, as well as fundraising appeals. This is how you promote your child’s media literacy.

General terms and conditions – small print on the Internet

“I have read and agree to the terms and conditions”. Does that phrase sound familiar? For example, from online shopping? By clicking on a checkbox, the GTC are confirmed and the purchase is completed. But what is actually behind the term AGB? And what should you as a parent know about it? We explain that in this article.

What are GTC?

AGB is the abbreviation for General Terms and Conditions. They are there to ensure that contracts can be concluded quickly. The GTC contain the exact rules of a contract between the users and the provider. On the Internet, this mostly involves the terms of use of Internet services such as apps, newsletters or social networks. People who use Internet services usually enter data such as their name, e-mail address or bank details. In order to be allowed to use this data, companies need the users’ consent to data protection. In addition, the terms and conditions for Internet purchases regulate details such as return rights, shipping costs and payment options.

When do children and young people come into contact with STC?

Kids and teens love trying out new Internet services and apps. They download apps on their smartphone, tablet or laptop alone or with the support of their parents. Often they are not even aware that they have agreed to the terms and conditions with the download. For example, they lack information on how the Internet service handles their data and what rules apply to its use, such as how to interact with each other. The T&Cs often include the age at which the services are permitted and how minors may use the service.

Small print explained simply

T&Cs are considered the fine print of the Internet. This is because there is important information hidden in it, but it is not understandable at first glance. Mostly they are long texts in difficult language with many complicated terms. Sometimes they are not available in German. For consumers, these texts are often difficult to understand and there is no time to read the terms and conditions carefully. These two offers can help you better understand T&Cs:

  • The Terms of Services Didn’t Read page rates the T&Cs of commonly used apps such as Instagram, YouTube or Amazon in traffic light colors of red, yellow and green. Volunteers analyze the complicated texts and explain the background of the terms of use in simple language. The site is only available in English so far.
  • Klicksafe’s “Terms of Use in Brief” provides an overview of the terms and conditions of online services popular with children.

How can parents introduce their child to AGB?

Explain to your child what T&Cs are and what rules they contain. Look at the TOS of one of your child’s favorite apps together and help your child critically examine the TOS. Talk with your child about what he or she can do if he or she disagrees with an arrangement. One solution can be not to use the service and, for example, to uninstall an app again. Another option is to use an app in a restricted way, for example, not allowing an app all permissions or sharing as little personal data as possible through the app. Also inform your child that the terms and conditions may change and that users will have to agree or decline again.

Popular games: Genshin Impact

Genshin Impact has become one of the top-selling online games in Germany since its release in the fall of 2020. In a mysterious anime-style game world, players take on the role of a twin who must search for his missing sibling.

In a nutshell:

  • free open-world action role-playing game
  • available for PC, Android, iOS, Playstation 4 and 5
  • Requires the creation of an account
  • includes in-app purchases
  • Age information: released by the manufacturer miHoYo from 13 years, released by the USK and PEGI from 12 years, recommended from 12 years (Spieleratgeber NRW)

What is Genshin Impact?

In the action role-playing game, players explore the open fantasy world of Teyvat, collect objects and fight against monsters and other players. In the course of the story, which you follow from the beginning as a single player, you unlock various characters.

Whoever slips into the role of another character has corresponding strengths. With the help of these skills you can master the tasks of the story and advance level by level. As the game progresses, the multiplayer mode is unlocked. In this mode, gamers can compete in battles with up to three friends or strangers or complete daily missions.

What fascinates children and young people about it?

Genshin Impact is easily accessible for children and teenagers, since it is a free game. At the beginning, players choose between two main characters, a sister or a brother. The plot, in which the main character searches for the twin sibling kidnapped by a strange deity, appeals to children and teenagers. Besides, the anime-style game world invites you to explore and discover buildings and secrets. New regions and updates are added here all the time. In battle mode or in small mini-games, the required skill is an exciting challenge.

What can be problematic about the offer?

The payment system and the different currencies within the game are designed in a complicated way, which is especially difficult for younger children to understand. One way to get characters and objects is the so-called “praying”. When “praying”, players buy virtual tickets. This gives them randomly selected items or game pieces according to the “gacha mechanics”. This mechanism simulates the operation of “real” Japanese slot machines, the so-called “gachas”. It is true that gamers also receive the necessary currencies in the course of the game, so Genshin Impact is basically playable for free. However, progress in the game becomes increasingly difficult, which may tempt younger or inexperienced children in particular to want to spend real money.

In Genshin Impact you can form a team with other players, fight against them and communicate via chat. Gamers can thus come into contact with strangers who are sometimes not the people they claim to be. There is a risk of cyberbullying and cybergrooming here.

The anime look of the game, while colorful and imaginative, also contains stereotypical and exaggerated gender portrayals – especially of female characters. This can reinforce sexism and expectations of certain gender roles. The game is all about fighting and winning, depictions of violence remain on a rather abstract level due to the cartoon style.

What does the provider think?

The Chinese provider miHoYo allows the creation of the required game account only from the age of 13. For minors, miHoYo requires the permission of their parents or legal guardians.

The company stores personal data that can be deleted upon request. When starting the game, the location of the server can be selected, for example, also the EU.

The Windows version of Genshin Impact includes software that is supposed to prevent cheating in the game, but provides a point of attack for cyber-attacks. The Genshin Impact development team does not see this potential security vulnerability as a pressing issue.

What should parents pay attention to?

Genshin Impact is not suitable for younger children. If your child is 12 years old or older, discover the game together at the beginning. Observe how he or she reacts to the depictions of violence and talk to him or her about what he or she has experienced. Discuss whether your child is allowed to make in-app purchases, and if so, how much. If you do not want your child to spend money on the game, you should not set a payment method in the game.

Play provides opportunities to determine who your child has contact with. Friends can be searched for via their respective account ID. Educate your child about communication risks online and show your child how to block unwanted contacts via the blacklist.

Since the game tempts you to keep playing, agree with your child on rules for dealing with games: How long can you play per day or per week?

The anime-style characters convey stereotypical gender images. Talk to your child about gender roles in games and ask how they perceive the different characters.

Girls and media

From the ice queen via Bibi and Tina directly into the living room of beauty influencers. If you look at what’s on offer in our media, it quickly becomes clear what girls like – or should like. From the first (pink) game phone to the Netflix -The content offered to young people is often heavily trimmed to gender stereotypes and leaves little room for nuances. But is that really what girls like? And how can you, as a parent, appropriately shape your daughter’s journey through the pink and light blue world of media?

When is a girl a girl?

XX or XY: Our gender is the first drawer we are usually put into before we are born. For many people, the sex they are assigned according to chromosome and primary sex organs fits. But not for everyone. Some, for example, are non-binary or trans. And even those who feel comfortable as girls or boys do not automatically want to be associated with all stereotypes. For parents and educators, therefore, the following applies regardless of media use: taking a close look and keeping an open mind are important in order to see and accompany children individually. That’s why we use the asterisk to girls* in this text – to show that every form of gender identity is meant.

More information on the topic of queerness can be found in the book “Was ist eigentlich dieses LGTBQI*?” (What is this LGTBQI*? ), which is suitable for children, and at Kindersache from the German Children ‘s Fund (DKHW), as well as at the Queer Lexicon.

Which media do girls* like?

When girls* and boys* begin to move in media worlds, gender seems to take on even more weight than it already does. Most children are interested in audio games and videos in kindergarten, discover the Internet during elementary school, and then also want a smartphone. In terms of content, however, girls* and boys* often move in two worlds. This is because girls* are specifically addressed differently by marketing than boys* and there are not many alternative offers. For example, girls* often use services that appear to be tailored to their gender identity. They watch Barbie and horse videos, read fairy stories, and later are more likely to watch casting shows or admire beauty influencers like Bibi .

The image that young girls* are presented with of the world is often colored by stereotypes and simplifications: Girls* naturally love pink, are interested in fashion and makeup, are portrayed as needy and are bad at math. Some girls* seem to love these very clichés (at least at times) – others may find it hard to find alternatives or bow to peer pressure in kindergarten and school.

And now? How can parents accompany girls* in their media use?

Of course, not all alarm bells have to ring immediately if your daughter likes Arielle or Gabby’s Dollhouse. Female characters of all varieties are a way for young people to express their own identity. They use stereotypical figures to test their own gender images – and possibly even consciously distance themselves from them. At the same time, too many such identification figures can also lead to stereotypes becoming fixed in the mind and prevent children from forming their own independent gender identity. Therefore, look closely and observe how your child talks about the media content.

As parents, you are important companions on the path of individual development. You serve as role models yourself – in the way you live your own gender identity, but also through your media use. Reflect on how you yourself talk about girls* and boys* and reflect together with your daughter* on the images of girls in the media. Be an*open conversationalist with whom your daughter* can discuss preferences, questions, and even stereotypes. Offer alternative (media) opportunities for your child to try content that has a different focus.

If you are open to your child’s topics, questions and interests and you accompany him or her in a loving and non-judgmental way, you will help your child the most. Because this way, young girls* can search for and live their own identity without fear.

Boys and media

Bob the Builder and Ninjago, war movies and baller games. If you think of “boys’ media,” you quickly get a lot of clichés together. It’s about strength and struggle, toughness and winning, and classic images of masculinity.

But does this media offering really suit all boys? And how can you as a parent guide your son through the stereotypical media images towards individual development?

When is a boy a boy?

XX or XY: Our gender is the first drawer we are usually put into before we are born. For many people, the sex they are assigned according to chromosome and primary sex organs fits. But not for everyone. Some, for example, are non-binary or trans. And even those who feel comfortable as girls or boys do not automatically want to be associated with all stereotypes. For parents and educators, therefore, the following applies regardless of media use: taking a close look and keeping an open mind are important in order to see and accompany children individually. That’s why we use the asterisk to boys* in this text – to show that every form of gender identity is meant.

More information on the topic of queerness can be found in the book “Was ist eigentlich dieses LGTBQI*?” (What is this LGTBQI*? ), which is suitable for children, and at Kindersache from the German Children ‘s Fund (DKHW), as well as at the Queer Lexicon.

Which media do boys* like?

Boys* today grow up with media from the very beginning. As kindergarteners, they watch videos or listen to radio plays; in elementary school, smartphones and game consoles become interesting. It is striking that boys* often develop different interests and consume different content at a very early age than girls*. This is shown, for example, by the current KIM study. They are more interested in sitcoms or cartoons, show more interest in gaming and action than girls*, and usually look for male role models – initially characters like Fireman Sam or superheroes, later comedians, musicians or athletes. Often these are characters and individuals who embody very stereotypical images of men* as strong, tough guys with power, money, and little emotional accessibility.

There may be various reasons why boys* often like programs in which exaggerated, stereotypical images of masculinity are cultivated: Their own preference, pressure from their friendship group, or a lack of alternatives.

For many parents, this is a difficult situation. They wonder how much they should counteract the stereotypes; how to deal with issues like violence or sexism – and how much stereotyping is okay in the media in the first place.

And now? How can parents accompany boys* media use?

Exaggerations and clichés are also means that young people in particular use to form their own opinions and identities based on these extreme depictions. They can help children and young people to try out identities, to reflect and to come to their own convictions.

Direct caregivers such as you as parents play an important role in this. By the way you yourself live your (gender) identity and which media you use, you help shape your child. Think about how you yourself talk about girls* and boys* and what gender stereotypes are present in your life.

Especially in the uncertain phase of self-discovery, it is important for adolescent boys* to find open and loving partners in their parents. Engage in conversation with your child about stereotypes portrayed in the media. Offer your child alternatives to diverse media outlets and guide your child in finding his or her own gender identity by looking for different and diverse role models together.

If boys* can grow up with supportive, reflective adults and diverse offersalso in social media – it is easier for them to find an individual and good way of dealing with masculinity* and clichés for themselves.

Games, Games, Games

Computer games are a topic in many families and often a cause for conflict. On Elternguide.online there are lots of articles where you can get suggestions for dealing with games in the family. A small selection:

Eltern fragen – wir antworten: Worauf sollte ich achten, wenn mein Kind Videospiele spielt?

Kinder und Jugendliche spielen gern – auch Computer- und Online-Games. Was es dabei zu beachten gilt, erklärt Medienpädagoge Fabian Wörz im Video.

_%_Aktivieren Sie JavaScript um das Video zu sehen.

Faszination Gaming – Was macht Spaß am Zocken?

In Spielwelten eintauchen, sich mit anderen messen, abschalten und Freundschaften pflegen. Was Kinder und Jugendliche an Videospielen reizt, erklären wir in diesem Beitrag.

“Just this one more round!” – Games in the family

Here you will find collected tips for dealing with computer games in your family. The article is available for reading and as an audio file.

“But mom, that game isn’t bad at all!” – Age restrictions for games

Welches Spiel ist für mein Kind geeignet? In diesem Beitrag erfahren Sie die Hintergründe von Altersbeschränkungen, den Neuerungen der USK-Kennzeichen seit 2023 und worauf Sie bei der Auswahl von Spielen sonst noch achten sollten.

When the circle of friends consists of avatars – communication in online games

Computerspiele sind eine sehr kommunikative Tätigkeit, weil sich Gamer häufig online zum Spielen treffen. Das birgt natürlich auch Risiken. Mehr dazu können Sie in diesem Beitrag nachlesen.

© photothek.net

My child wants a game console – now what?

Wenn nicht übers Handy oder den Computer gespielt wird, kommt eine Spielekonsole zum Einsatz. Die steht auf vielen Wunschzetteln ganz oben. Lesen Sie hier unseren Beitrag zu Spielekonsolen.

Improve skills with online gaming

Immer mehr Menschen wird bewusst, dass Computerspiele viele positive Wirkungen haben. Mehr dazu erfahren Sie in unserem Beitrag.

Noch vieles mehr auf Elternguide.online

Das ist nur eine kleine Auswahl an Beiträgen zum Thema. Auf unserer Seite finden Sie eine Vorstellung der fünf beliebtesten Genres von Online-Games und Beschreibungen der bei Kindern und Jugendlichen beliebtesten Computer- und Handyspiele, wie z. B. Roblox, Minecraft, Brawl Stars und Fortnite. Wir bieten Erklärungen von Spieleplattformen wie Twitch und Steam, Artikel zu Gefahren wie Gewalt in Games, Hass unter Gamerinnen und Gamern, Extremistische Ansprachen über Spieleforen oder Computerspielsucht und vieles mehr.

Hate among gamers

Children and young people like to play with each other and argue in the process – and that is quite normal. These conflicts do not stop at virtual space. Sometimes arguments degenerate into name-calling, hate speech or cyberbullying. What you can do as a parent on the topic of hate among gamers, we explain in this article.

Why do children and young people argue about computer games?

Games are supposed to be fun. Gamers compete against each other in many online games. As in other competitions, there is always one team that wins and at least one that loses. Losing often triggers frustration and anger is taken out on each other. In the process, there are also times when insults are used.

In the process, the difference between fun and seriousness is not always clearly discernible. Rough language, so-called trashtalk, is the order of the day in the gaming scene. However, this gaming language is usually not taken as a personal insult, but determines the tone of conversation. In some conflicts, however, players cross red lines and utter racist or sexist insults, for example. This is called hate speech and is a form of digital violence. This is about the targeted discrimination of people on the net based on one of their characteristics such as gender, skin color, origin or sexual orientation.

One particular feature fosters hatred among gamers: In online spaces, we do not face each other personally. Therefore, it is not easy to recognize how statements from the other person are meant and how one’s own statements are received. Also, things are said thoughtlessly that one would not say to others’ faces. Real people hide behind nicknames, but the anonymity of the Internet sometimes makes you forget that.

What can I do if my child is affected?

Accompany your child in the event of cyberbullying. When children argue, they are often sad afterwards and feel misunderstood. It doesn’t matter whether the conflict takes place online or in real life. After all, the emotions involved are always real. If your child is sad and opens up to you, take your child’s feelings seriously. Answers like “But it’s just a game!” or “Don’t play it if you’re always going to be mad afterwards.” are not conducive to this. Show understanding and offer your child support: “I’m here for you. Let’s figure out what to do together”. If these events happen again, talk to your child about what he or she can change. However, wait until the anger has passed for the moment.

Ask if your child feels offended by the culture of communication among gamers themselves. Make your child strong against haters and trolls and show them how to fight back online. Educate your child about how to deal with digital violence and point them to help sites like juuuport or Hate Aid. If your child encounters hate and incitement in games, report the account together. It is important for the community of the game that harmful players are reported. Thus, the developer studios can take action and block accounts or exclude them from participating in the chat. Find out what games your child plays and check if there is an option to child-proof the game. For example, individual players can be muted so that your child is no longer a repeated target of nasty hostility.

If you observe your child using violent language yourself, talk to your child in a quiet moment about communication in Games. Clarify which insults are discriminatory and make it clear where you stand on them. Be a role model in your own expression, whether online or offline, and show understanding and interest in your child’s play worlds.

Online games – five popular genre

Computers have revolutionized our world. They open up unimagined possibilities, also for the world of games. As early as 1961, student Steve Russel developed the world’s first computer game: Spacewar! In 1972, the most famous video game ever followed: Pong, by Nolan Bushnell. A lot has happened since then: technology has evolved, the Internet has made gaming in online spaces possible.

What online games do children and young people play today? The gaming platform Steam shows that shooters, MMORPG, survival games, battle royals and sports games were played particularly frequently in 2022. These types of games are also trendy among young people. We present you these five popular genres of online games.


The word shooter comes from English (to shoot = to shoot) and refers to games in which the main objective is to eliminate opposing parties using firearms. In all shooters, the focus is on protecting your own threatened character. Team play, quick reactions and tactics are required. Shooters are often linked with an exciting game story and they come in countless variations. From highly tactical like Counter-Strike or Valorant to fast action like in Call of Duty there is a wide variety of games with different objectives. In first-person shooters, players control their character from a first-person perspective. We described whether first-person shooters promote violent behavior here.


MMORPG stands for “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game” and combines elements of role-playing games with online worlds. The most famous representatives of the genre are Lost Ark World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Final Fantasy XIV and Black Desert Online. The players slip into the role of a self-created character. You play with others and complete tasks (often called “quests” in these games). The focus of the individual games is very different. While players in World of Warcraft often team up with others to defeat dangerous enemies, in Guild Wars 2 players often fight each other in epic mass battles to capture and expand strongholds.

Besides tasks, MMORPG games offer a variety of other possibilities. Characters can learn a profession and earn gold or other currency with it. From the skilled cook to the blacksmith and the tanner to the jeweler, everything is there. In-character role-playing, in which players meet and interact with each other in character, is also common and offers similar incentives to improvisational theater.

Survival Games

Survival Games (Engl. “survive” = survive), such as for example ARK: Survival Evolved, The Forest, Rust or Minecraft attract with a very exciting gameplay, in which players start with a minimum of equipment and can build new items and even houses by collecting resources like wood, ores and co.
Depending on the game, players can explore technologies, travel an exciting but often dangerous world, and craft items. Most games can be played online together with others. Other game ends become either allies or opponents, with whom you either cooperate or fight for resources.

Battle Royale

Battle Royale is the title of the first book written by Japanese author Koushun Takami in 1999. In the book, a school class is abandoned on an island and must survive there. However, only one person may remain. The successful book series The Tribute to Panem also works with a similar concept.

When the game PUBG: Battlegrounds was released in March 2017, it immediately raced to the top of the Steam charts. Soon other developers followed and tried to reinvent the genre. Fortnite , Paladins and Minecraft mods wrote success stories that continue to this day.

The game principle follows the novel templates: 100 players are let loose into a world and fight to be the last one left. You’ll start without equipment and you’ll have to find important resources in the game world to succeed and prevail. The playing field is constantly shrinking, which leads to the fact that game players inevitably have to meet and defeat each other. Things often get heated in the process, as we have already described in this article.

Sports games

Another genre that has become indispensable are sports games. Fifa has been thrilling gamers of all ages for almost 30 years now.

Racing games like Formula 1, Dirt and Forza also inspire with a fast-paced gaming experience and realistic graphics. As in other sports, the primary attraction here is to compete with others. Traditional sports clubs have meanwhile eSports -teams, which also compete in sports games and tournaments.

What parents should pay attention

The popular game genres are undergoing constant change, A good overview of current genres is provided by the USK’s encyclopedia.

No matter what genre is played, the focus is always on having fun. Your child needs the balance to the stressful school or training day and uses gaming to relax and entertain. Computer games are a great way to do something with friends, even if they live far away.

Stay interested and learn about age ratings and appropriate games for your child. If you feel your child is playing too much, talk openly about it and try to agree on rules together.

Playbrush Kids – Gamification for brushing teeth

Playbrush Kids is a smart sonic toothbrush with interactive games app designed specifically for kids to make brushing teeth a fun experience. The app uses the gamification approach to make brushing teeth a game that kids love to play. We explain what’s behind it.

In a nutshell:

  • smart sonic toothbrush with interactive game app
  • Playful activities to motivate people to brush their teeth
  • For children from 3 to 12 years old
  • Coach teaches proper cleaning routine
  • Cleaning evaluations with reward system

What can Playbrush Kids do?

With this app you can play games, track brushing activities and learn how to brush teeth properly. To do this, the app uses gamification technology, a trend in the technology industry, especially in healthcare. The idea is to use playful elements such as points, rewards or competitions to motivate people to improve their health and well-being. Playbrush Kids aims to promote healthy tooth brushing habits in children, for good oral hygiene and better long-term dental health.

The children’s toothbrush acts as a game controller – either with a special toothbrush attachment (Playbrush Smart), which is placed on a conventional manual toothbrush, or as an electric sonic toothbrush (Playbrush Smart Sonic). These are equipped with sensors that detect the movements of the toothbrush and transmit them wirelessly to the app.

The children then have to complete various tasks while brushing their teeth, such as fighting little monsters or collecting objects. The app tracks the child’s progress and offers rewards for good performance. It also reminds how long and how often children should brush their teeth. Playbrush Kids was developed by dentists.

What fascinates children about it?

For children, Playbrush Kids can be very appealing as it allows them to experience brushing their teeth as an interactive and fun game. You can play different games and unlock characters, which makes the experience even more interesting. Children can track their own progress as they clean and feel proud when they achieve their goals. Gamification elements such as points and rewards provide additional motivation for most children.

What can be problematic?

  • Incentive and distraction: Children can become too fixated on playing and neglect the actual brushing of teeth. If they’re just looking to get to the next level in the game, they might not brush their teeth thoroughly enough or leave out important spots.
  • Overbrushing teeth: When children play too long, you can overbrush their teeth. While it is important to brush your teeth thoroughly, excessive brushing can cause damage to your teeth, such as abrasion of the enamel.
  • False reports: The app has technical problems from time to time. For example, the toothbrushing coach then reports to the child that he or she is brushing too hard, even though this is not the case.
  • Reward system: The reward system can help motivate children for better dental health and boost their self-confidence. However, there is a risk that they will only clean for rewards and behave differently when these are removed.
  • In-app purchases: Although the app works without any purchases, it offers cost traps with in-app purchases such as additional game pieces or accessories, which children also make unintentionally.
  • Privacy: The app collects personal information about your child, such as cleaning progress or for personalized recommendations. Data is also transmitted when parents have reports on the number of minutes spent brushing their teeth emailed to them, for example. The device location and IP address are also collected anonymously.

What does the provider think?

Playbrush Ltd is the company behind the app. They describe it as an innovative solution to help children improve their dental health by making brushing a fun and entertaining experience. They emphasize that the app is secure and complies with data protection laws.

What should parents pay attention to?

Playing is fun – and it should be. Support your child in not neglecting or overdoing tooth brushing. A mutually agreed time limit can help. If you have any concerns, please talk to your dentist.

The app’s reward system should be seen more as a support. Also encourage your child to take care of their dental health on their own initiative. So it can develop a lasting healthy habit.

The app collects data, if only to provide you with reports. Familiarize yourself with the privacy policy in order to make an informed decision or to make specific settings. Also keep an eye on the possible in-app purchases. To do this, you can discuss with your child – depending on their age – or restrict the purchase options in the smartphone settings.

Interact with your child – together, mouth music, brushing technique training and oral health quizzes become even more fun.

Reading and learning with Tiptoi

On long car journeys, on train journeys, or simply cozily at home on the sofa – the Tiptoi interactive learning system is popular with children and parents. We explain the many functions offered by the hearing pen.

In brief

  • Reading pen with recording function
  • usable in combination with special books, games and puzzles
  • only compatible with Ravensburger products
  • for children from 2 years
  • in the starter package for 70 Euro (from 2 years) or 60 Euro (from 3 years)

What can Tiptoi be used for?

The Tiptoi is a reading or listening pen. If you tap the stylus on a picture or text in a book provided for this purpose, suitable sounds, speech or music will sound. Stories, games and toys are thus brought to life. To do this, you need to download the corresponding audio files from the Internet in advance. For the old generation of the hearing pen (for 3 years and older), you have to connect the pen to a computer to do this. With the new version of the hearing pen (for ages 2 and up), this all works via the charging station with WLAN connection; it is completely independent of the parental computer.

The levels of experience in the books or puzzles are divided into four categories:

  • When you tap on the red eye icon of the Discover layer, the pen reads texts, makes sounds, explains pictures and much more.
  • At the orange light bulb symbol of the Knowledge level, children learn exciting facts about the respective book topic. New content is retrieved again and again on a random basis.
  • In the storytelling level, which is marked with a blue speech bubble symbol, the children listen intently to short stories designed to stimulate the imagination and deepen the play experience.
  • And finally, you can tap on the green cube icon of the Games level, whose content deepens what you have learned in a playful and interactive way.

The reading pen can be used not only in combination with books, but also with games, a globe or puzzles. It is recommended for children from 2 years. Products for different age groups are offered.

The earlier devices (since 2018) for children over the age of three have an integrated microphone so that children can record their own sounds and speech. The newer device (from 2022) for children from the age of two has no microphone and therefore no recording function.

What fascinates children about it?

The multiple uses of the listening pen offer an interactive and engaging way to learn. This encourages the children to become active and to foster their curiosity. By playing with Tiptoi books and toys, children can improve their cognitive skills and develop their language, math and social skills.

Also, the listening pen allows children to discover the world around them in a new way. You can immerse yourself in a variety of topics and learn more about history, science, or geography. For example, not only is it explained what the hoot of an owl sounds like, but you can also listen to it. Even several times. The operation of the pen is simple and its use is adapted to the motor skills of a child aged from about 2 years.

The products designed specifically for children over 2 years are usually simpler. They have larger and more colorful images, as well as less text and more complex interactive features. They aim to stimulate the senses and curiosity of younger children and develop their fine motor skills.

The products for ages 4 and up are usually more complex and sophisticated in terms of interactive features and learning materials. They are often designed with more text and more challenging content to give children a deeper understanding of topics such as history, science, or math.

What does the provider think?

According to Ravensburger, Tiptoi inspires and motivates to play and learn! It is an innovative learning and creative system with which children discover the world through play. Its child-friendly design and high-quality content, as well as the wide range of possible uses, are particularly highlighted here.

With the Create recording function, the provider promises to promote your child’s language skills and self-confidence.

What should parents pay attention to?

The listening pen is only compatible with the corresponding Ravensburger products. The cost of the pen and matching books should therefore not be underestimated. The pen alone already costs about 39 euros. However, you can choose from a variety of products in different price ranges, which are also always a nice gift idea.

With the older version of the pen (for ages 3 and up), audio content can only be loaded onto the device using Tiptoi Manager, a computer program from Ravensburger. Computers and Internet access are therefore a prerequisite. The recording function cannot be used with all Tiptoi products, but only with Create products.

For more on what to consider when using family read aloud pens, check out our general post on this.

Project partners