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Media education for siblings

In many families with siblings, there are arguments about media use: the younger ones feel unfairly treated if they are allowed less than the older ones. What some people find exciting, others find boring. Conversely, some media offerings are too much for younger children. The older ones have the feeling that they constantly have to be considerate of their younger siblings. How can parents master the balancing act between the needs of siblings and encourage their children to use media competently?

Making media rules fair

Whether an only child or a sibling – rules on media use in the family give children structure and security for their everyday life with media. The needs and developmental stages of each child should be taken into account. For example, it can make sense to give older siblings more freedom when it comes to media use, while younger children are subject to stricter limits. For example, older children are allowed to take certain devices into their own room, while younger children should only use media in the shared living areas. The times of use must match the age of the children. Younger people should spend less time in front of a screen than older people. Define the rules together and make sure that they are fair and understandable for everyone. For example, a media usage contract that you draw up individually for each child can help. Everyone in the family should adhere to basic media rules such as “no media at the dinner table”.

Accompanying sibling conflicts

“Give me my tablet back now!”, “That’s for babies, I want to listen to something exciting!”, “Why do I have to turn it off when she can still watch?”. Do sentences like this sound familiar? If the age gap is large, different rules apply for each child. This can easily lead to arguments between siblings, whether over access to certain devices or the choice of content. Make the rules clear to your children and help them to put themselves in their sibling’s shoes. For example: “Your big sister wasn’t allowed to watch videos for more than an hour when she was at primary school “. Make sure you recognize conflicts in good time and support them well. This strengthens the relationship between the siblings and they learn to negotiate, compromise and resolve conflicts more and more independently.

Creating shared media experiences

Watching movies or playing games together is fun and creates a bond. Parents should support their children in choosing suitable media content for shared media use. Shared media rituals such as watching a science program on Sunday or listening to music in the car are fun and strengthen family cohesion. Siblings often process media content together and act out scenes from series or immerse themselves in the world of their favorite characters in role-playing games. Siblings can learn a lot from each other, especially when they are creative with media together and design radio plays, stop-motion films or photo collages themselves.

Tips on media use by siblings

  • Avoid excessive demands: Choose age-appropriate media, observe the age ratings and use the youngest child as a guide when using media together.
  • Create safe spaces: Make sure that younger children have limited access to media. Make it clear to the older children that they are jointly responsible and must not give the younger ones unauthorized access.
  • Make agreements: Make sure that the media rules are adhered to in the family. Take the different needs and preferences of your children seriously. Establish fairness and decide together, for example, which child is allowed to decide which media content and when.
  • Find alternatives: one child watches on the TV, the other on the tablet – this can be a solution for different preferences and levels of development. If the younger child’s media time is already over while the older child is still allowed to use media, offer your young child an alternative, media-free playtime.
  • Promote media literacy: Be aware of your role model function by setting a healthy example for your own media use. Have regular open discussions in the family about the advantages and disadvantages of media. In this way, you can help your children to deal with media in a critical and reflective way in line with their age and promote their media skills.

Age-appropriate media for my child

The overwhelming range of films, series, apps and other media presents parents with the challenge of getting an overview in order to select the right content for their children. After all, the selection should not only be age-appropriate, but also entertaining and, ideally, educational. We have put together a few suggestions on where you can find age-appropriate media for your child.

Age-appropriate media – what does that mean?

The choice of media should always be based on your child’s stage of development. Media offerings are tailored to different age groups, and it is important that you as parents pay attention to this. Age recommendations and descriptions of the content can provide helpful information. However, you know your child best, so you can use this as the best basis for determining whether the offer might suit your child.

Verified media content

In descriptions of media offerings – whether apps, films or games – there are sometimes different age specifications. A distinction must be made between recommendations, general terms and conditions and age ratings. Specifications and approvals usually have a legal background. For example, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) stipulates that certain apps, such as WhatsApp and TikTok may only be used from the age of 13.

The description in the app stores often contains a different age indication – namely that the app has been approved by the youth media protection authorities. The age ratings issued by self-regulatory bodies such as the FSK or USK rate media according to statutory youth protection criteria. In each case, it is examined whether media content could be dangerous for the development and health of children and adolescents. For example, through the depiction of violence or pornography. Or whether children can be exposed to contact risks through the use of a service. It is not checked whether a plot in a series and characters are understood at a certain age. This means that a Disney movie that is released from the age of “0” is by no means suitable for babies. It just doesn’t pose a risk to them. Access to media for children is to be regulated by means of age labels and technical protection measures. But this only works if you as parents also pay attention.

When it comes to selecting content, age recommendations made by (media) educational institutions, for example, will help you. We look to see whether the content corresponds to the lifeworld of the respective age group and whether it is understandable and appealing.

Suitable media offerings and guidance for parents

The media landscape for children of nursery and primary school age is huge; older children and young people often switch to adult offerings because there are fewer offerings tailored to them.

Here you can find good media offers and information:

  • TV, streaming, YouTube, cinema: The FLIMMO parents’ guide offers educational recommendations by age for films, series and shows from media libraries, streaming services, YouTube and TV channels
  • Children’s search engines: Via fragFINN or Helles Köpfchen, children only surf on tested and child-friendly websites.
  • Websites: A large collection of child-friendly websites is listed and presented on seitenstark.de.
  • Apps: We have put together a selection of “Good apps for children” and “Apps for toddlers
  • Children’s radio and podcasts: We have put together a selection for you “There’s something for your ears“.
  • News: We have put together a selection of “News for children and young people“.
  • Games: The NRW games guide provides detailed profiles of computer games with age recommendations.
  • Online television for 14 to 25-year-olds: funk’s diverse content appeals primarily to older young people.

Tips for your own evaluation of offers

The selection and examination of media offerings requires time and attention. However, by making conscious decisions and communicating openly, you can ensure that your child uses positive and developmentally relevant media content.

  • Content review: Look at the content and consider whether it fits in with your child’s world and understanding.
  • Interaction options: Images, sounds, music and animations should be age-appropriate and appealing.
  • Simple navigation: The service should be easy to use, ideally voice-controlled for younger children and with few symbols and functions.
  • Advertising and in-app purchases: Make sure there is no advertising and preferably an offer without in-app purchases.
  • Parental settings: Familiarize yourself with the setting options for a safe environment and, if necessary, make use of offers from the technical youth media protection service.
  • Feedback from others: Talk to other parents and check whether the offer comes from trustworthy developers or educational institutions.
  • Test run: Look at or test your selection in advance – without your child.

Individual support and communication

Do not rely solely on recommendations, as every child develops differently. Actively accompany your child in their media consumption right from the start in order to understand how they react to certain content.

Teddy and doll listen in – Smart Toys in the nursery

Teddy bears and dolls have always been popular playmates for children. In the meantime, they have undergone a technological revolution and have also become so-called smart toys. These intelligent toys can actively interact with children, entertain themselves or even learn. We explain what exactly is behind smart toys in children’s rooms.

This is what the smart toys can do

Smart toys are toys with technological enhancements that respond to commands and offer interactive functions. Interaction can take place via sensors, cameras or microphones that enable the toy to detect its surroundings. Artificial intelligence is also often used. There are non-networked smart toys that work offline and networked versions that use an internet or Bluetooth connection and are often controlled via an app. In some cases, they may also contain GPS, which makes it possible to track location data. Some intelligent toys can adapt to children’s needs and learning progress.

Smart toys for children

Various toys can be grouped under the collective term smart toys, including books with an accompanying app, teddy bears with voice output and, in some cases, a recording function, and even programmable robots:

The Dash robot is an educational robot for children aged 6 to 11. It can dance, move around the nursery, react to clapping or voices and even play the xylophone. It is controlled via various apps and does not require a permanent internet connection.

Miko 3 is an AI-controlled robot for 5 to 12-year-olds that offers playful learning, dance parties and educational activities. It has a microphone, loudspeaker, camera and Wi-Fi, and interacts with the children via AI. An app for parents makes it possible to monitor screen time and video calls.

The toy manufacturer Curio offers AI-controlled soft toys for three to twelve-year-olds that interact with children via an AI voice. Children can ask questions, wish for music and the soft toy tells stories or provides explanations for natural phenomena. The calls are forwarded to the AI and stored temporarily. Parents can view the conversations. These plush toys are not available in Germany or are “only” sold in the USA.

Are smart toys useful or dangerous?

Data protection is one of the key concerns, as smart toys are often networked via WLAN and can collect and store personal information. There have already been several security incidents in the past in which hackers have gained access to collected data. Neighbors can also easily connect to some toys via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This allows strangers to communicate with your child, ask them questions or even threaten them, for example through a text that a puppet reads out after you have typed it in, or through voice messages. My friend Cayla was banned in Germany for this reason.

It is particularly problematic that some smart toys record conversations and store this data on external servers without clear information about usage. This information can fall into the wrong hands and violate children’s privacy. In Germany, radio-controlled toys suitable for secretly recording images or sound are prohibited, as in the case of the Cayla doll. Constant control and supervision by a toy on the part of the parents also goes beyond the duty of supervision. Sharing such secret recordings via social networks such as WhatsApp & Co. without involving the child also violates the child’s personal rights.

Parents have a responsibility

Make sure you are well informed before buying a smart toy. Research the manufacturer’s website and independent consumer test reports. Pay particular attention to the data protection regulations, whether data is forwarded or processed within the toy.

Keep the entry of your child’s personal data to a minimum. And always switch the toy off when your child is not playing with it. Deactivate all connections such as WLAN, Bluetooth and any microphones or cameras if they are not absolutely necessary for the toy to function.

Find out from the Federal Network Agency, which regularly inspects objects that can be used for hidden spying. Keep an eye on your responsibilities. Ultimately, your parental role remains irreplaceable, and a teddy bear, however intelligent it may be, can never take the place of parents or real friends.

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 .

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!

TIGERBOX TOUCH – Audio streaming in the children’s room

The tigerbox TOUCH wants to offer “unlimited streaming variety” – that’s what the provider’s website says. Like other Audio boxes It is also a modern and popular alternative to cassette recorders and CD players.

In a nutshell:

  • for children from 3-12 years (according to the manufacturer)
  • handy and robust listening box with bamboo case and touchpad
  • simple operation with large buttons
  • Music and stories playable via the tigertones app or using cards
  • Parental area with features like parental controls and child profiles

What is the tigerbox TOUCH?

The best way to describe the tigerbox TOUCH is as a square Bluetooth listening box with a bamboo casing that is supposed to provide particularly good sound. The large buttons and simple touch display of the tigerbox TOUCH make it child’s play to operate. There is also a light bar that responds to music and sound and a night light. If not everyone is supposed to listen in, headphones can also be connected.

In order for your child to listen to something from the multitude of songs and stories, there are two ways: paid access to the tigertones media library via app or the use of individual cards. Depending on your subscription, the tigertones app gives you access to more than 15,000 titles such as radio plays and children’s songs. After downloading the app and connecting the tigerbox TOUCH to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, your child can listen to stories from popular characters such as Benjamin Blümchen or the Olchis within a range of up to 10 meters. Alternatively, you can buy individual tigercards that play audio games or music after being plugged into the box. The wildcards allow playing self-recorded voice messages or mp3 files. The whole thing also works offline if you download individual audio plays in the app or by playing content via a card with the box.

What excites children and adults about the tigerbox TOUCH?

The simple and practical operation of the box with the cards or via the touch display as well as the large selection of audio material suitable for children makes the tigerbox TOUCH interesting for children. Individual profiles with age information and favorite characters enable age-appropriate use of the box. You can set functions such as the parental lock, sleep timer or maximum usage time via the parent area. This way you can control what your child hears and when. Playing the wildcards yourself invites you to record creative audio stories with your own child.

For the purchase of a tigerbox TOUCH you currently pay about 100,00 €, which is comparable to other listening boxes for children.

What does the provider say?

The tigerbox TOUCH is described as “The smart audio system for the kids’ room and on the go”. According to the manufacturer Tiger Media Deutschland, the difference to conventional Bluetooth speakers is that the tigerbox TOUCH was developed by experts in children’s media with children’s needs in mind. In addition to the ease of use, the carrying strap as well as the bamboo case guarantees the sturdiness of the box (also for traveling). Content is also provided via the ad-free and child-safe app tigertones.

What should you look out for as a parent?

The tigerbox TOUCH is especially exciting for older children with the wide selection of titles. Use the parents’ area and make sure that your child can only access content that is approved for his or her age. Note that for the premium account of the tigertones app– i.e. full access to all content – you need to sign up for a paid subscription starting at 6.99€ per month. With the operation via the cards, even younger children can enjoy childlike listening pleasure. The tigercards and wildcards are available from 5,99€ per piece. Stiftung Warentest has tested various listening boxes and points out that the playback volume is often too high for children, especially in conjunction with headphones. Use decibel-limited headphones or do without headphones and explain to your child how to turn down the listening box. How about getting creative together with your child, and record your own audio stories? Then playing via the device is twice as fun.

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.

Audio boxes: Square, practical, good!?

A life without Benjamin Blümchen, My Friend Connie and the Grüffelo is unthinkable, especially for younger children. You probably remember your own favorite cassettes or radio play CDs from your childhood. As a modern variant of the classic listening media, there are nowadays so-called listening boxes. But what exactly can Tonie, Tigerbox and Co. actually do?

What are audio boxes?

Listening boxes, also called music boxes, are available from various suppliers. Depending on the manufacturer, the prices differ, but are mostly under 100, – €. When you buy a box, stories are often included. However, if you want more audio stories or songs for your child, there may be subsequent costs.

The boxes all work on a similar principle: they are child-friendly and usually designed like a cube. Above all, they are easy to use. Colorful pens or figurines in the form of animals that you plug into the audio box, or connect via Bluetooth, can play all kinds of stories. You can also get creative yourself and record (your own) stories.

What benefits does the listening box offer my child?

Listening boxes are specially designed to meet the needs and motor skills of younger children and are designed not to break quickly. The few functions are easy to perform, so your child can operate the box independently. Selecting and starting stories themselves, pausing, stopping or exchanging them as needed – the young users can do all this on their own. Children as young as about two years old can operate the devices intuitively. This can boost your child’s self-confidence.

Some boxes offer the possibility to set a time limit. This will help your child stick to agreed upon listening times.

Audio boxes can be used to play audio games and music, whether for entertainment or to learn new things. If the stories are stored on animal figures or similar, these figures can also be used as toys.

As a parent, what should you be aware of?

Find out about the different listening boxes to decide which one is right for your child. What is the right shape? Are the stories stored on some kind of USB stick or does the box always have to be connected to the Internet? How much do new stories cost?

Research what age the stories you want to listen to with the box are appropriate for. Since your child can also use the listening box on his or her own, an age-appropriate selection is especially important. Also inquire about the data protection of the respective box: What private data is collected? How is the personal information of the users protected?

We present the most popular boxes in more detail on the Parents’ Guide: Tigerbox, Toniebox and Hörbert.

An audio box does not replace the togetherness of your own reading aloud: Regularly take the time to read to your child from their favorite book or listen to the audio stories from the box together.

The age ratings of the Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Fernsehen (FSF) – what’s behind them

For parents, it is a challenge to keep track of the huge range on offer on TV and streaming platforms: Movies and TV shows, series, non-fictional formats such as reports and documentaries, casting, stunt and game shows, erotic offerings, music videos and docu-soaps or coaching programs. Which media content is age-appropriate for my child, which is unsuitable and which should I protect my child from? An initial orientation for age-appropriate programs is provided by the age ratings and the associated broadcast times – they are often based on a rating by Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Fernsehen e.V. (FSF).

What is the FSF?

The FSF is a non-profit, legally recognized association that supports private television broadcasters, telemedia providers and streaming services in implementing youth protection regulations in Germany. To this end, the FSF offers content review by independent experts who set age ratings and broadcast times, identify objectionable content, and recommend cuts if necessary.

The basis for the audit is the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV), which regulates the protection of minors from unsuitable media content. The aim is to protect children and young people from content that is harmful to their development, e.g. drastic depictions of violence, excessively frightening scenes or questionable role models. This content is rated with the ability of different age groups in mind and given a clearance of 6, 12, 16 or 18. In media libraries or streaming services, these age indicators are displayed; on TV, they are associated with specific broadcast times:

  • until 8 p.m., content may be shown that does not pose any risks for children up to 12 years of age,
  • until 10 p.m., content is placed that is acceptable for under-16s,
  • to 11 p.m. those deemed appropriate for those under 18.

The age ratings are also stored by many providers as technical identifiers that can be recognized by youth protection programs. More information is available here on the FSF website.

Which media does the FSF rate?

The FSF reviews content of all genres, especially series, documentaries and films shown on television or online platforms. But commercials and program trailers, music videos, show formats, docu-soaps or reportage and news programs can also be relevant to youth protection and submitted for review.

How does a rating come about?

The FSF reviews content submitted by TV broadcasters or streaming service providers upon request. The evaluation takes place in examination committees with three or five independent examiners. They come from different disciplines such as media education, psychology, media science or law. A program is screened and possible risks are discussed. The decision for the appropriate age rating is made by simple majority. More information on program review can be found on the FSF website.

What criteria does the FSF use to evaluate media?

The key risk areas are violence, fear and disorientation. Essential for the evaluation is the context.

In the case of depictions of violence, for example, the question is whether the violence appears positive overall and could thus increase children’s and young people’s willingness to engage in violence and conflict: Is the depicted violence more likely to be endorsed or rejected? Is it presented as something fascinating? Does it seem more artificial or realistic? Is it exercised by the villain or the hero or heroine? And is it successful in the end?

Similar questions arise in the case of the effect risk of disorientation, e.g. in the case of representations of prejudices or role clichés, of drug abuse or of risky behavior: Do problematic behaviors appear attractive and worthy of imitation or are they critically commented on or rejected?

Risks of excessive anxiety come into consideration especially in the lower age groups. Younger children often cannot adequately process moments of shock or images of violence or injury or separate themselves from stressful issues such as parental separation.

The extent to which media content is likely to trigger fears or negatively influence the values of children and young people depends on the ability of the respective age group to cope with stressful scenes and to classify and question problematic statements. More information on impact risks is available on the FSF website.

What should parents be aware of regarding FSF assessments?

Age ratings and broadcast times are a guide, but should not be the sole basis for media selection. Each child develops individually and has different needs and levels of maturity. Therefore, use other information to assess whether a content is suitable for your child and fits his or her personal situation. Age ratings are not recommendations!

Accompany your child’s media use. Talk to him about his media experiences and help him understand and classify media content. The FSF’s assessments can help you make informed, age-appropriate choices.

Parents can contact the FSF Complaints Office with comments and complaints about TV or streaming content. In justified cases, an audit will be initiated.

The age ratings of the Voluntary Self-Regulation of the Movie Industry (FSK) – this is what’s behind them

Whether in the cinema, on DVDs, when streaming series or watching TV – children, young people and parents frequently encounter the FSK age labels in their everyday media lives. Find out what’s behind the FSK ratings, how the ratings can help parents choose appropriate movies and protect young people from potentially inappropriate content in this article.

What is the FSK?

The FSK stands for “Voluntary Self-Regulation of the Film Industry.” It is a German institution concerned with the age rating of cinematic content on all distribution channels such as cinema, DVD/Blu-ray and streaming.

The FSK’s task is to classify and label movies and videos in an age-appropriate manner. In doing so, they examine the entire content and the portrayal of problematic aspects such as violence and sexuality. The labeling with an age rating takes the form of colored symbols such as “from 0” or “from 6”. The symbols can be found, for example, on packaging such as the DVD case or on movie posters.

The FSK ratings are based on the German Youth Protection Act (JuSchG). It contains legal provisions to protect children and young people from inappropriate content. The FSK is not a state institution, but a self-regulatory body of the film industry, which in Germany is supported by various interest groups under the umbrella of the umbrella organization of the film industry. However, state representatives are directly involved in the audits.

Which media does the FSK rate?

The FSK evaluates various media in the film and entertainment industry when a review is requested, in particular

  • Motion pictures,
  • Filme und Serien, die im Home-Entertainment-Bereich veröffentlicht werden,
  • Movie trailers and promotional clips for the cinema.

Not all media are rated by the FSK. Computer games are checked by the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK), while the Voluntary Self-Regulation Body for Television (FSF e.V.) is (also) responsible for television content and streaming services.

How does a rating come about?

The age restrictions serve to protect minors in Germany and are based on the media competence attributed to different age groups of children and young people. Volunteer examiners from all over Germany work at the FSK. They come from different professional fields, e.g. journalism, media studies, education and justice.

The committee examinations take place at the FSK in Wiesbaden. After viewing the films and videos together, they discuss and vote on the age rating. The basis for the rating is the Youth Protection Act and the principles of the FSK. Consideration is given to plot, dialogue, character portrayal, visuals, specific themes such as violence and sexuality, and music.

Alternatively, after training, applicants can have their content rated using the FSK classification tool. The final decision on the test result is then made by the state representatives at the FSC. More information on the testing procedures can be found in the FSC’s principles and on the FSC website.

What criteria does the FSK use to rate media?

The following indications and problem areas have particular relevance for the respective release:

  • Release age 0 and up: This content is safe for all ages. Positive heroes, humor and a quick resolution of problematic scenes make for a relaxing movie experience.
  • Release age 6 and up: Content is suitable for children 6 years and older. There may be slight tension or angst, but the film should end on a positive note and the characters should be clearly divided into good and evil.
  • Rated 12+: Children 12 years and older may view this content. There may be exciting or action-packed elements, but no excessive violence or explicit depictions.
  • Release age 16+: Teens 16 and older can watch these movies. This may contain stronger depictions of violence or sexual content. There should be no glorification of drugs and violence or excessive discrimination against groups in it.
  • Rated 18+: This content does not receive a youth rating and is intended for adult viewers only, as it may contain violence, sexuality or other incriminating scenes.

Since 2023, the FSK has been implementing a new provision in the German Protection of Minors Act and adding additional information to the known age ratings. These so-called “descriptors” are intended to explain the main reasons for the release and thus offer families more guidance when selecting films and series. More information can be found on the FSC website.

What should parents keep in mind in connection with FSK ratings?

The FSK’s age ratings serve to protect minors, ensuring that children and young people are not adversely affected by content that is unsuitable for them. The releases are binding, which means, for example: films from the age of 12 may only be viewed by younger children in the cinema when accompanied by an adult.

The state does not determine what movies children can watch at home. Parents can also make media accessible to their children that are not approved for their age. In doing so, they must not neglect their duty to educate:

  • Pay attention to the age ratings, because they offer a helpful orientation here!
  • Important: the FSK ratings are not educational recommendations. They do not indicate whether children already understand the content. Select age-appropriate media based on your child’s individual stage of development.
  • Check out the FSK’s website for information on the justifications for the ratings of films and series.
  • Consider educational recommendations, such as those from FLIMMO for movies, series, and television programs.

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!

Audio play fun with the Toniebox

A “treasure chest for audio play experiences” – that’s how the provider itself describes its Toniebox. As a contemporary alternative to cassette recorders and CD players, listening boxes can already be found in many children’s rooms. Why is the colorful box so popular and how exactly does it actually work?

In brief

  • robust radio play box with simple operation
  • from 3 years
  • a variety of game characters with audio books, audio games, music and knowledge content available for purchase
  • No permanent WLAN connection necessary
  • Parents need a Toniecloud account
  • expensive purchase

What is a Toniebox?

Square, practical and easy to use – that’s how you can describe the Toniebox. This is a monochrome cube that can be used to play audio books by simply placing various figures on it. The play figures, called Tonies, are available in two versions. The Tonies in the design of well-known children’s characters can be used immediately. Countless contents can be played via them. The Kreativ-Tonie, in turn, can be recorded with your own recordings via an app.

The padded cube can be easily operated by children themselves: A chapter can be jumped forward by a slap on the left side. Fast forward and rewind by tilting the box slightly. On each box there are also two rubber ears, through which the volume is adjusted.

Before the Toniebox can be used for the first time, you have to set it up. A WLAN connection is required for this. You also need a smartphone, tablet or PC. To set up the box, you create a free customer account in the Toniecloud. Once the Toniebox is set up, you can put the character on the box and play it.

What excites children and adults about the box?

The Toniebox impresses above all with its simple design and easy operation, making it easy for children to use on their own. In addition, many different characters are available for both the general Tonies and the Creative Tonies: Benjamin Blümchen, The Mouse, Knight or Rockstar – depending on the child’s preference. The range of different stories and content available for the Toniebox also impresses many parents. Once the audio stories are fully loaded in the cloud, they can be listened to anywhere even without WLAN.

What does the provider say?

According to the company, the Toniebox is made of high-quality and robust material, which is why children can use it without any problems. But the box should also be easy for parents to operate: For example, the maximum volume can also be controlled via the Toniecloud. The Toniebox is suitable for children from the age of three.

If you use the option of a creative Tonie, your own sound recordings are stored in the Toniecloud. However, these can also be deleted again. When closing the entire Toniecloud customer account, all uploaded data is also deleted.

What should you look out for as a parent?

The cost factor of the Toniebox is not entirely insignificant: the starter set with one creative Tonie currently costs €79.95, and each additional Tonie (€14.99) or creative Tonie (€11.99) must be purchased separately. However, compared to the hörbert listening box, it is a cheaper alternative.

The creative tonies offer a lot of space for creativity. Why not record a story or song together with your child? Very creative people can also produce their own radio play and listen to it together later. As parents, you should always keep in mind that it is the shared media experience that counts and that you should especially accompany young children in their first media-related steps.

Learn and be creative – apps for toddlers

Lovely animations, child-friendly illustrations and interactive content: There are a variety of learning and creative apps that have been specially developed for toddlers to support them in their development. We present a few apps for toddlers.

What is it about?

Children are fundamentally curious and learn through active trial and error. Learning and creative apps can support this natural learning process and promote cognitive and creative development. For example, there are apps that teach the alphabet or quantities, or let you solve puzzles and riddles. Children can also draw in apps, create their own artwork or tell stories. The playful design makes the learning process fun and can motivate children to express themselves or develop further.

Find apps

You and your child can get apps in a number of ways. But it’s not easy to find the right product from the almost endless list of apps. For your search we recommend the DJI database, Seitenstark, SIN – Studio im Netz or the Spieleratgeber NRW.

Recommendations for infants

This selection of apps is particularly suitable for getting started – for example, for two- to five-year-olds. Whether an app is really suitable for your child is individual and you know best. The apps all contain no advertising or in-app purchases. What else makes a good app for kids, we describe in this article.

TheElephant

The app for the show with the elephant offers, in addition to shows and laughs and factual stories, numerous games such as painting, puzzles, programming, dodging obstacles, hiding and rubbing a treasure chest free in pairs. With the help of the elephant alarm clock, the duration of the game time can be set.[iOS/Android/Amazon, Free]

Little extinguishers

As a firefighter, get to know the everyday life of the fire department. Your child experiences firefighting operations in the app and learns in a playful way how to behave correctly in the event of a fire. The self-explanatory and predominantly wordless tasks should be emphasized, which even young children can master perfectly.[iOS/Android, free of charge]

Sesame Street

The app is based on the children’s series and offers children’s movies and music to sing along to, as well as some learning games such as a dress-up game, a flower chorus, cookie dominoes, a packing game, frog hopping or an ant rally. Again, no reading skills are required.[iOS/Android, free]

Fiete

Discover his island together with Fiete the sailor: sort apples into a basket, mount tires on a car or crack eggs into the pan. The interactive picture book app can be controlled by simple and intuitive tapping and swiping motions. The soundscape and animations are also calm and unagitated. [iOS/Android, €3.99]

My 1st app – vehicles

Select vehicles, hear their names and discover their characteristics. There are three types of games to get to know the vehicles: a puzzle, a spinning game, and a patience game with different difficulty levels. It should be emphasized that the app does not have a reward system.[iOS, €1.99]

Bubl painting

Paint and compose – at the same time. To do this, select a motif, a color palette and you can paint colorful pictures and make music with colors and shapes. An overall picture is created from lines, waves and circles. The app promotes the perception of the connection between sound, color and form.[iOS, €2.99]

Milli and her friends: play and read-aloud fun

A read-aloud story in rhyme about a snail in search of itself. On her journey, she meets many animals. The calm and appealing design of the app stands out from many modern apps.[iOS, €1.99]

My Montessori

Shapes and colors, sound recognition, reading and writing the alphabet, numbers and math basics: the app offers several learning games based on the Montessori teaching method. Preschool at home, quasi.[iOS/Android, free of charge, exception: with in-app purchases]

Khan Academy Kids (English)

Storybooks and phonics games, tracing letters and practicing writing, math facts and number games. In addition to educational games, the app also offers children’s songs and yoga videos to sing and dance along to – all in English.[iOS/Android/Amazon, Free]

What else is important

Take time to review apps before providing them to your child. Read reviews from other parents and check if the app is from trusted developers or educational institutions.

Look for age-appropriate content and features. It is important that the app takes into account your child’s developmental level and provides appropriate challenges.

Use the apps as an opportunity for joint activities with your child. Accompany it, ask questions, encourage it to tell or discuss the content. Also, make sure that your child cannot access other apps.

Set rules for screen time– together, depending on age. And pay attention to how your child reacts to using the apps. When showing signs of frustration, overwhelm, or dependency, it is important to reduce screen time and provide alternative activities.

Your own behavior serves as a role model for your child. Try to set an example of a balanced approach to digital media yourself and not let screen time dominate family life excessively.

It is not necessary to have a large number of apps. Rather, focus on a few high-quality apps that match your child’s needs and interests.

Sleep, baby, sleep – baby monitor apps and sensor systems

“Is our baby doing well?” – this question occupies many parents not only during pregnancy. Especially in the early days, they often feel the need to be there for the child around the clock and to have everything under control. For this, many parents are turning to technology and apps to monitor their babies and toddlers.

Baby monitor apps

Baby monitors are part of the basic equipment of most families with small children. If the child is sleeping in another room, adults can hear via loudspeaker and/or video image if the child becomes restless, wakes up or cries. If you don’t want to purchase your own device for this purpose, need a longer range, or want to use one spontaneously while on the go, you can use baby monitor apps. With a smartphone or tablet, a device that offers all the necessary functions is always at hand: Microphone, speaker, camera and telephone or Internet connection.

There is a wide range of baby monitor apps to choose from. There are three types of apps:

  • 1. apps for a mobile device: the app monitors the baby and calls any phone number over the mobile network when needed.
  • 2. apps for two mobile devices: a parent unit (receiver) and a baby unit (transmitter) are connected via WLAN, Bluetooth or the mobile data network.
  • 3. apps in conjunction with a “real” baby monitor: the baby monitor device is connected via WLAN to an app via which the parents are informed.

We dedicate this article to the first two types of apps. Baby monitor apps feature a variety of functions, some of which are indispensable, others not. It should be possible to adjust the noise sensitivity so that the alarm does not go off with every gust of wind. A live video function and the night light allow visual verification of whether parental intervention is really required. Some apps provide information about the battery level of the baby device. Features like having lullabies played or talking to the baby can make it easier for some children to fall back asleep. Some apps log children’s sleep quality.

What should parents look for in baby monitor apps?

Compared to traditional baby monitors, baby monitor apps are significantly cheaper. There are free apps and many apps under five euros. Because they do not use radio, the ranges of baby monitor apps are much greater. However, the radiation exposure via WLAN or mobile network is significantly higher than via radio. WLAN and mobile networks are susceptible to interference, and seamless monitoring is hardly possible with fluctuating Internet connections. While the batteries and rechargeable batteries of baby monitors last a very long time, smartphones and tablets are quickly drained by the app constantly running in the background. Apps that record a child’s sleep pattern collect sensitive data.

If you want to use a baby monitor app:

  • Find out which apps offer which functions.
  • Read reviews and ratings.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of baby monitor devices versus baby monitor apps.
  • Use your child’s data sparingly.

Sensor systems for breath monitoring

What baby monitor apps don’t offer parents: the certainty that their child is still alive. The fear of diagnoses such as sudden infant death syndrome drives many mothers and fathers.

Respiratory monitoring systems sound an alarm if the child stops breathing for an extended period of time. Sensor wristbands, smart socks, sensor mats and clip-on sensors measure vital functions such as chest movements, oxygen levels, body temperature and heart rate of babies and toddlers while they sleep. The data is permanently transmitted via Bluetooth or WLAN to an app that warns parents when limit values are exceeded. The child’s vital signs are stored and can be shared with others.

Many sensor systems are combined with video and noise monitoring conventional baby monitors.

What should parents look for in sensor systems?

Monitoring systems with sensors can help parents reduce anxiety about diagnoses such as sudden infant death syndrome and help them rest at night.

Sensor mats are only suitable for healthy babies who sleep alone in bed. Children with health problems are professionally monitored medically. However, among the sensor systems, there is only one product that has medical approval. The clip-on sensor is not connected to a mobile device, but triggers a vibrating alarm to wake the child. If it is not awake, an alarm goes off, which can be heard via a baby monitor.

Do not rely solely on breath monitoring technologies, as they are fundamentally prone to failure. Frequent false alarms can unsettle parents and literally rob them of sleep.

In order for your child to sleep safely, you should pay attention to the entire sleep environment. Appropriate room temperature and safe bed and clothing design are important factors. Information on safe baby sleep is provided by the Federal Center for Health Education on its website kindergesundheit-info.de.

The best breathing monitoring won’t help if you, as a parent, don’t know what to do in an emergency. Take a baby and toddler first aid course and have the appropriate emergency numbers handy.

Create shelters for babies and toddlers

Children are growing up in a world full of media and technology. Every day they come into contact with different devices and media content. The bedroom is perhaps one of the few places not yet entirely affected by this. Sensor systems for breathing monitoring and baby monitor apps are constantly sending data, exposing young children to constant radiation. When using apps in conjunction with vital signs, there is the question of how to handle your child’s sensitive data. Babies and young children also have the right to privacy, which must be protected. Avoid sharing your child’s information with others via messenger or social media.

Carefully consider whether technologies and apps to monitor your child offer more benefits than costs.

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