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How to make your child’s smartphone safer

Many children get their own smartphone during their primary school years. With it, they can do different things and have access to the Internet. In addition to many great opportunities, however, it also exposes children to risks. It is particularly important that you talk to your child about possible dangers and make safety settings on the smartphone together.

Privacy

Without your child realizing it, he or she is leaving data trails by using a messenger and other apps, as well as by surfing the web. Explain to your child the various smartphone functions and how to set them sensibly: WLAN, Bluetooth and location should remain switched off by default and only be activated when absolutely necessary. For example, GPS is necessary if your child is looking for directions to a specific location using a map app. Check the app permissions in the settings together with your child. For example, you can avoid apps accessing the camera without reason or sharing data with other devices and networks. Educate your child about online scams, such as spam emails or phishing. Additional security is provided by virus scanner apps that can protect against unwanted viruses and dangers such as data theft, subscription traps or fake offers.

Password protection

It is important to use codes and passwords to ensure secure use of the device and apps. Your child’s cell phone should only be used after entering a code (PIN, swipe code, etc.) to prevent strangers from accessing personal data. Set up secure password protection with your child. This also applies to registration with social media services and apps. Secure passwords consist of at least twelve characters and contain special characters and numbers in addition to letters. Depending on the device, your child’s fingerprint can also be used to unlock the device (e.g. Touch ID on iOS). Tips for creating secure passwords are available – e.g. at Handysektor. For younger children, it is recommended that at least one parent also knows the screen lock combination and password.

Parental control settings on Android and iOS

Security and parental control settings can be made on every smartphone in the settings. Detailed information on this can be found, among other things, in the article on technical youth media protection.

On Android, you can block the installation of apps in the Play Store or set a password for installation or in-app purchases. To do this, activate the parental control settings. You can choose which apps your child can install without a password.

iOS devices offer even more options in their own device settings. Under Screen Time you have the option to set restrictions and assign a separate code for them. You can then, for example, allow or block the use of certain apps and restrict in-app purchases with a password. Movies, music, apps and TV shows with a higher age rating can also be blocked automatically. iOS can automatically filter and hide web content in Safari and apps.

Additional apps are also recommended:

  • JusProg is a state-approved youth protection program that is free of charge, data-saving and ad-free. The software filters Internet addresses and blocks non-age-appropriate websites. The individual settings allow you to adapt the level of protection to the age of your child.
  • For Android devices, there is also Salfeld, which is available for a fee and focuses on time limits and filters as well as the connection of parent and child devices.
  • With the Kids Place app, you can, for example, set a time limit for screen time, only allow the use of certain apps or block unsuitable websites.
  • The Google Family Link app also offers some ways to regulate your child’s cell phone use.

Further tips for safe smartphone use

To avoid cost traps, a tariff with a limited data volume can be useful. Make sure you also make certain settings for your child’s privacy and safety on social media apps and use Instagram safely, for example. Here you can specifically regulate the visibility of your child’s profile and the basic contact options. Some platforms offer a safer alternative mode for minors – e.g. the accompanied mode on TikTok.

We also recommend installing the fragFINN app. This children’s search engine offers a protected surfing area with tested websites. This way you can ensure that your child can only access age-appropriate and safe content, both for school research and for leisure activities.

For more information on safe smartphone settings, it’s worth visiting medien-kindersicher.de. Here you will find helpful, technical protection solutions for all your child’s devices, services and apps explained step by step.

Also remember to carry out regular software updates on your child’s smartphone to close security gaps and minimize the risk of viruses, for example

Accompaniment by the parents

Smartphones come with some features to make chatting, surfing the web and using apps safer for your child. However, these settings on the device or parental control apps are no substitute for parental supervision. Your child should always understand why certain websites or apps should be blocked or why GPS tracking should remain deactivated. Also, always base your control and safety on your child’s age and development. Especially with teens, don’t intrude too much on your child’s privacy. However, always try to stay in conversation with your child and be there as a point of contact for questions or uncertainties.

Information on elections and politics for children and young people

In June 2024, elections to the European Parliament will be held in all EU member states. For the first time in Germany, young people aged 16 and over are allowed to vote. The topic of elections raises questions for many young people. Even children are often interested in political issues. However, voting systems in particular are a complex topic that is difficult to understand even for many adults. We have compiled a selection of high-quality online services that provide children and young people with age-appropriate answers to their questions about elections and politics.

Information pages for children

Kuppelkucker – the Bundestag explained for children

Kuppelkucker is the children’s website of the German Bundestag. Current news from the Bundestag for children aged 5 to 12 is published here twice a week. Explanations of terms and institutions of the German government can be found in the lexicon. Quizzes such as the election quiz and explanatory videos such as this one on the Bundestag elections offer an interactive experience of the site.

Logo! – Children’s news

Logo!, the children’s news program of the public broadcaster, also devotes several contributions to the topic of elections and politics. An overview page explains various institutions in Germany, explains important terms and introduces individual parties. Logo! also offers articles about the EU and the European Parliament. The Logo! program is aimed at children between the ages of 8 and 12.

SWR Kindernetz – Knowledge portal for children

Südwestrundfunk regularly publishes child-friendly video and audio contributions on the SWR Kindernetz portal, supplemented by short knowledge articles. Here you can find some contributions on political topics such as women’s suffrage or the German constitution. Children can play an election quiz directly on the website.

Sendung mit der Maus – the popular knowledge program

Sendung mit der Maus has set up a special page on the subject of democracy and elections, on which various videos are available for children aged 5 and over.

Checker Welt – reports suitable for children

Presenter Checker Tobi from Checker Welt deals with the topic of democracy and the importance of elections in the report Democracy Check, which is aimed at an audience aged 6 and over.

What is What – Non-fiction books for children

The well-known Was ist Was book series is aimed at children aged 8 and over. A brochure on democracy and elections in the typical Was ist Was style is available for free download on the website.

Geolino Special – the children’s podcast

Geolino Spezial is a knowledge podcast for children. Episode 81 is all about elections.

Information pages for young people

Hanisauland – political education for young people

The Hanisauland portal communicates political and social issues to children between the ages of 8 and 14 in a playful way. Knowledge articles and a lexicon explain important terms and topics. Children can post their own questions under the articles. The portal highlights special topics such as elections and the upcoming European elections. Children and young people can test what they have learned in the quiz on the topic of elections.

Federal Agency for Civic Education – Politics, History, International Affairs

The knowledge section of the Federal Agency for Civic Education provides answers to the most important questions about democracy and elections in the form of articles and booklets.

U18.org – Portal for first-time voters

“Who, how, what is Europe?” – these are the questions answered by the U18.org information page of the German Federal Youth Council. The focus here is on young people’s issues in politics, youth elections, events and political education.

Youth portals – networking and information

The European Youth Portal offers young people living, learning and working in Europe the opportunity to find out about opportunities and initiatives at EU level and in the individual countries. The German Bundestag’s mitmischen.de portal encourages young people to become politically or journalistically active themselves.

Political education on social media

Instagram channels for political education such as politikverstehen_ and nini_erklaert_politik make it easy and entertaining to understand what is currently being discussed in politics and society. On YouTube, influencers like LeFloid or networks like funk tackle social issues with factual accuracy and humor.

What parents should pay attention

When it comes to political education, parents are an important role model for children. Emphasize the importance of elections and encourage your child to stand up for values such as democracy and social justice. Give your child access to age-appropriate news and information sites and search engines and talk to them about political issues. Because by gaining a certain basic understanding of democracy and elections, your child learns why their own opinion and vote are important. Do not force your child to do this, but build on their existing interest.

In connection with elections and democracy, disinformation and fake news are circulating on the internet and on social media platforms. Talk to your child about fake news online and explain to them how they can check news and content. HanisauLand or Team Timster offer programs for children and young people to educate them about fake news and the like.

Youth under pressure – beauty ideals on the net

Toned bodies on YouTube fitness channels, flawless beauty influencers on Instagram or perfectly staged selfies in WhatsApp chats– social media conveys a certain image of beauty that is often far removed from reality. Such ideals can put enormous pressure on children and young people and have a negative impact on their self-esteem. How can parents help their children develop a healthy approach to beauty images online?

Images of beauty through the ages

Pale skin in the Middle Ages, curvy bodies in the Baroque era, short hair in the 1920s, thin models in the 1990s – what is considered beautiful is subject to constant change and varies according to time and culture. Throughout history, women in particular have been strongly valued by their appearance. Today’s ideal of beauty is strongly influenced by gender stereotypes and social media trends.

Children and young people in the orientation phase

“Do I look beautiful?”. With the onset of puberty at the latest, children and adolescents are increasingly concerned with their appearance and identity. This time is often characterized by uncertainty and comparisons. Young people also look to the media for guidance. They keep a close eye on how people present themselves online. Influencers become important role models that they want to emulate. Many social media stars present themselves as particularly approachable on their profiles and encourage contact with their target group. The strong relationship with their idols can be an orientation aid in the development of their own body and beauty image, but can also lead to insecurity and pressure. This is because a lot of content shows highly distorted images of beauty.

Insta vs. real life – beauty on the web

Big eyes, full lips, white teeth, flawless skin – on platforms like Instagram and TikTok are dominated by one-sided images of beauty that are perfected with the use of filters and image editing, including the use of AI avatars. Added to this are the mechanisms of social media services, in which algorithms preferentially select images with naked skin and display content according to the characteristics and preferences of users. Influencers show more appearance than reality in order to earn money with clicks and product placements. Anyone who does not conform to the current ideal of beauty receives negative feedback and even hate comments. This increases the pressure on young users to meet unrealistic beauty standards. According to a study conducted by the Austrian education platform safer-internet.at in early 2024, beauty ideals on the internet put both girls and boys under a lot of pressure. More than half of the young people surveyed want to look beautiful, stylish and slim online. If children and young people are constantly comparing themselves and frequently use filters, this can have an impact on their self-perception. Pumping until you drop, starving yourself to the point of anorexia – some content even shows beauty ideals that are harmful to health, which can be dangerous if imitated.

Fortunately, there are also counter-movements online such as curvy models, body positivity and hashtags like #formorerealityoninstagram. They help to make visible and celebrate a diversity of bodies and identities. Such authentic content encourages users to take a healthier and more realistic view of beauty and their bodies.

How can parents deal with this?

Show an interest in your child’s media use and keep in touch with your child about their favorite influencers and content. Analyze together which editing steps are behind many images and videos and explain to him that this is mostly about marketing. Make it clear to your child that their social media feed is not an accurate reflection of reality. Encourage your child to weed out profiles that trigger bad feelings. Give your child access to the good side of the internet and show them (children’s) media that portray diverse world views and gender images. Comedy profiles such as Celeste Barber or formats for children and young people such as this video on beauty filters by TeamTimster on KIKA help to question unrealistic ideals of beauty.

Emphasize the diversity of bodies and images of beauty and encourage your child to be positive about their own body. Praise your child’s inner values, such as personality and interests, to strengthen their self-esteem. If you are unsure, your child is suffering from digital stress or an eating disorder, seek help, for example in the form of (digital) counseling services.

Cloud gaming with Amazon Luna

Amazon Luna is a cloud gaming service that brings games to various devices such as computers, smartphones or Fire TV. The platform offers a large selection of games, including many family-friendly titles.

In short

  • Cloud gaming service for digital games
  • Can be used on many end devices such as televisions, computers and smartphones
  • Age ratings can be set in the account
  • Provider: Amazon
  • Subscription from 10 euros per month (as of March 2024)

What is behind Amazon Luna?

Amazon Luna is a cloud gaming service. This means that the games do not have to be downloaded. Similar to Netflix the games are streamed.

Players must have a Luna+ subscription or an Amazon Prime account. You can then play games from the Luna library without having to buy them individually. However, the games do not belong to the subscribers. Anyone who cancels their subscription or Amazon Prime account will lose access to all games that were included. The same applies to games that Amazon removes from its range.

Alternatively, the games can be purchased individually via the Amazon Luna website. A Ubisoft account is also required for this, as these games are only offered for sale by the video game company Ubisoft.

What incentives does Amazon Luna offer?

Gaming trends change quickly. A game that is still popular with children and young people can lose its appeal in just a few weeks. With the subscription, Amazon Luna offers the opportunity to react to such changes without having to keep buying new games.

The Luna Couch function allows children and young people to play together with their friends. In Luna is the streaming platform popular with young people Twitch is integrated.

Families save the high costs of purchasing a gaming PC or games console. Amazon Luna is available on Android and iOS smartphones, on some smart TVs and on computers with an internet browser.

What does the provider say?

Amazon Luna offers parental controls with a number of protective measures. In the “Parental control” tab in the settings, you can set a PIN for the account. In the settings, parents can specify that the PIN must be used to purchase games. The games that Amazon Luna offers are all rated by the USK and set to a specific age. Luna is one of the affiliated systems that participate in the IARC process. Parents can specify the age rating above which the PIN must be entered in order to start the game. More information about Amazon Luna parental controls can be found on the medien-kindersicher.de website.

What is problematic about the offer?

Cloud gaming requires an online constraint. The games cannot be downloaded and played offline, as the game data has to be transferred from a server. This can consume a lot of data volume.

Online games can cause problems with the flow of the game due to the delay time to the server. Especially with action games (like Fall Guys ), sports games (like FIFA ) and shooters (like Fortnite ), it can be relevant to make decisions within fractions of a second. If your home Internet is not fast enough to implement these decisions, this can quickly lead to frustration.

The aspect that subscribers do not own the games can also be difficult. If your child wants to play the game over and over again, this option is not safe in the long term. This is because Amazon can decide to remove the game from its range at any time.

Amazon Luna ‘s parental controls are good in many respects, but there is still room for improvement in one area: you cannot limit your child’s playing time. To do this, they would have to use additional programs, such as the Salfeld app, which is available for Microsoft Windows and Android (up to Android version 14).

What parents should pay attention

Use the settings of the technical youth media protection of Amazon Luna and the devices on which your child plays. Talk to your child about play times and agree on rules. Involve your child so that they feel that their interests are taken seriously and represented.

Talk openly with your child about the risks of online gaming. Encourage your child to come to you if they have seen or heard something while playing that makes them feel insecure. Talk to your child about how they can deal well with challenging content or risky contacts. Also note that the integrated streaming platform Twitch is included with Luna and can bring its own challenges.

Does your child want to play a game that you don’t know? Find out about this in advance. Elternguide.online offers articles on many popular games. Observe the USK age ratings of the games and weigh up whether the game is suitable for your child depending on their stage of development. Educational recommendations for games can be found in the NRW games guide.

JusProg – the digital youth protection program

Many children surf the Internet independently from a young age. If you as a parent sit next to it, you get to see what websites and content your child sees. However, older children in particular – from secondary school onwards, for example – should also be allowed to use the Internet independently. Unfortunately, they may also come across content that is unsuitable or disturbing for them. Offers such as the filter program JusProg are designed to help better protect children and young people online.

In a nutshell:

  • state-approved, digital youth protection program
  • free of charge and without registration
  • can be installed on different devices
  • privacy-friendly and ad-free
  • Individual restrictions for different ages

What can it do?

The software filters web addresses and blocks non-age-appropriate sites on the Internet. JusProg runs in the background while you are surfing: If a website is listed in the system as not age-appropriate, it is blocked – a corresponding message then appears. JusProg bases its assessment of the pages on the age of the children, which the parents specify in advance. Unknown web addresses are automatically blocked for children aged 0 to 12. It’s a little different for children over the age of 12: For them, all pages that are not noted in the system are automatically unlocked. This makes the surfing space with JusProg very large for 12-year-olds and up.

JusProg can be installed on most iOS and Android devices. In addition to the listed web addresses, other pages can be manually blocked or unblocked. Multiple user profiles can be created on one device so that parents and children can surf on one computer and the level of protection is individually adapted to the age of the family member. For example, one child sees content for under-12s, while the older sibling can visit websites for ages 16 and up. The program was approved by the FSM’s expert commission and rated “good” by Stiftung Warentest.

What does the provider think?

JusProg ‘s system is based on negative (blocklist) and positive (passlist) lists on which various websites are noted. Of course, this does not offer one hundred percent security, as the Internet is very large and growing very quickly – non-German websites and content on social media channels in particular are difficult to track. Accordingly, problems have already been identified, such as a tendency towards overblocking, i.e. blocking too many sites rather than too few. JusProg promises to always check sites editorially in order to prevent overblocking or underblocking. Nevertheless, it makes sense for parents to use the option of individualization if certain pages are incorrectly classified from their point of view.

In addition, JusProg offers a reporting function on its website. Sites that are on the wrong list from the parents’ point of view can be reported here. According to the provider, these are then editorially reviewed and their assessment adjusted if necessary.

JusProg would like to point out that approved sites have only been classified as suitable for children and not harmful to development. Parents must assess for themselves or research other recommendations to determine if the content is appropriate for their child. You can find more information about the service and its functions on the JusProg parent page .

What should parents pay attention to?

JusProg is a good offer and the only state-approved youth protection program in Germany that meets all requirements. It can support media education and youth protection online and is particularly useful for younger children. From the age of 12, the surfing area with JusProg is very large, so the protection is lower. Websites like Google , Facebook , X and Instagram are difficult for the system to filter and must be set manually. The sites themselves often offer security settings that can be easily activated. In this article, you will learn how to make safety settings on your child’s smartphone and apps.

As a parent, you should be aware that software cannot replace personal supervision of your child’s media use. Talk openly with your child about their media behavior and agree on rules for media use in the family. If you have supervised your child’s first steps online and explained to them what they should look out for, they will later be able to navigate online safely on their own and know how to deal with online dangers. Open, interested communication can also enable your child to turn to you or other trusted persons if they have problems. If you decide to use JusProg, do not give your child the feeling that you do not trust them. Explain to your child why JusProg blocks certain sites and decide together when your child is ready for more open Internet access.

World views in children’s media

Books, computer games and series all have one thing in common: they tell stories. However, when clicking and zapping through television programs and streaming services, it quickly becomes apparent that certain stories are repeated and others are barely shown. Through this one-sided portrayal, there is a danger of seeing discriminatory worldviews as normal from childhood.

The danger of one-sided narratives

Children have endless questions and are constantly searching for answers that explain the world around them. Media use makes a significant contribution to how your child perceives the world.
The media give us a very one-sided picture of our world by constantly repeating the same characteristics of a person such as skin color, gender, origin or religion. This leads to the fact that we no longer question the images and stories conveyed, but accept them.

Promoting diversity from an early age

That’s why children need stories that show that the world is colorful. Through access to a variety of stories, children come into contact with different realities of life, topics and perspectives.
And don’t worry: it’s okay to watch such one-sided movies and series. Rather, it is about offering different stories so that your child has the opportunity to get to know several perspectives on certain topics and representations. By dealing with diverse media content, your child can learn that people with or without disabilities, regardless of gender or skin color, can be heroes in stories.
To support this and promote an open world view, it is important to take a critical look at the content of radio plays, films, games and other media. In the best case scenario, take a look together with your child at how one-sided or varied the stories consumed so far have been told and how the characters are portrayed. Then you can search together for a series, a podcast, a game or a book with diverse characters that you and your child like.
Below you will find a list with some suggestions.

Diverse children’s media

On Instagram , TikTok and co. are dominated by one-sided role models, because clichés sell well. We have compiled tips for more diversity in social media offerings for you in this article. You can find portraits of influencers who deal with criticism of racism and show gender diversity here.

Diverse and queer – what is becoming more and more visible in our society is also increasingly reflected in media offerings for children. In this article, we present children’s media that show diverse gender images and lifestyles.

Movies and series:

All new for Lina – Lina moves to Berlin with her family and has to find her way around. (3 years)

My City of Ghosts – In this animated film, four friends interview ghosts and learn about the history of their city, Los Angeles. (5 years)

Die Sendung mit der Maus – A knowledge series for children in which diversity is also emphasized in the moderation. (5 years)

A Lousy Witch – Friendship in a witch school. (6 years)

The Checker World – The Checker Team Can, Tobi, Marina and Julian present exciting knowledge programs for children. (from 6 years)

Dandelion – Fritz Fuchs and his dog Keks experience exciting adventures as the successors to Peter Lustig together with a diverse ensemble of actors and impart interesting knowledge in the process. (6 years)

Strong! – Short portraits of strong children. (7 years)

Avatar – The Lord of the Elements – An animated series featuring characters with various disabilities, but with no focus on their impairments. (7 years)

Rico, Oskar and the Deep Shadows – two friends with different quirks and fears chase a kidnapper until one of the two boys disappears himself. (7 years)

Moooment! – A series that deals with the topic of racism and discrimination. (9 years)

Strange World – a three-generation family must save a dying plant. (9 years)

Karma’s World – (animated film) Ten-year-old Karma wants to become a rapper. Until then, however, they have to cope with everyday school and family life. (9 years)

The Peppercorns – A group of five children solve crimes. All five main characters demonstrate strength, courage and solidarity. (10 years)

Echt – web series on ZDFtivi that deals with friendships. (10 years)

Trio – A detective series (10 years)

The Help – this feature film is about the lives of black maids who work for white families every day in the 1960s. (11 years)

Einstein Castle – series about the lives of boarding school students. A format with a lot of diversity (past, skin colors, sexuality, illnesses) without being portrayed as “special” or “unnatural”. (12 years)

Funk – Free media offer and network of ARD and ZDF. (14 years)

Books:

Buuu.ch is a blog that presents children’s books and comics that convey diverse role models and avoid reproducing stereotypes or clichés.

Book suggestions for diversity-appropriate books for teens are posted regularly on CBJ ‘s blog.

Stories about strong girls can be found on this list of children’s books.

In addition, activist Raul Krauthausen collects children’s books that deal with various facets of the topic of disability.

Something completely different is the one organized by the Munich Deaf Association, where children’s books are read aloud in sign language.

In the book “My dream, my story“, eight children who became world-famous talk about their dreams and stories.

The Avalino Diversity blog and Britta’sInstagram and TikTok accountfocus a lot on the topic of diversity in the nursery. Among other things, she presents children’s books and has also written her own (children’s) book.

Zuckersüß Verlag is a publisher of children’s books with strong messages and a list of 30 books for more diversity and variety in the nursery on Jane Wayne’s blog.

Podcasts:

The Avalino children’s podcast is a knowledge podcast in which children talk about their ideas (e.g. environmental protection) or cool facts (e.g. about animals).

Die Maus is a podcast of the Sendung mit der Maus, on which a 60-minute episode for children appears daily. (4 years)

Hearooz is a podcast app that was developed especially for children and contains various child-friendly podcasts. (4 years)

The children’s podcast Kakadu discovers the world together with children and answers exciting questions. (6 years)

Games:

The Unstoppables is a puzzle game in which four friends with different disabilities rescue a dog from the clutches of its kidnapper. (Recommended by Webhelm from 8 years)

In the game Starlink: Battlefor Atlas, the prosthetic arms and legs of the strong character Chase are a matter of course. (USK 6 years)

In SIMS 4 and SIMS Freeplay, characters can freely choose any hobby and profession. When creating Sims, players can decide for themselves what skin color the characters should have and choose between two body shapes (instead of genders). Same-sex and polyamorous relationships are also possible. (USK 6 years, recommended by Spieleratgeber NRW from 10 years)

Serena Supergreen and the broken wing is a game that takes a gender-sensitive approach to technical apprenticeships in the field of renewable energies. (Recommendation from internet-abc from 12 years)

Sibel’s Journey is about dealing with the topics of sexuality, gender, body and boundaries. (Recommended by wirfuervielfalt for ages 12 and up)

In Tell me why, two siblings meet again after 10 years to sell the family estate. The game also represents trans* boys. (USK 12 years)

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.

Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular apps among young people. Experiences are shared as stories, influencersshowwhat’s hot at the moment, users find out about a news feed or are simply entertained.

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In a nutshell:

  • social network that can be used free of charge after registration via the app
  • Publish and view photos, short videos(reels), live streams and so-called stories
  • Minimum age: 13 years
  • Caution: contains a lot of advertising, children and young people can be confronted with unsuitable content,
  • Provider: Instagram is like Facebook a service of the large US internet company Meta

What is Instagram?

Instagram, or Insta for short, is more than just a picture platform. Above your own feed (accessible in the app via the house icon), you will find the latest stories and live streams from users you follow. These disappear again after 24 hours, but can also be saved by the person who posted the story on their own account as a so-called highlight. The feed also displays the newly posted photos and videos of the subscribed channels and people.

Users can find a wide variety of content on Insta: Posts by stars and starlets, about brands and products, current challenges and even personal profiles of friends. You can respond with likes and comments.

You can create and edit your own posts with filters, emojis, fonts, etc. directly in the app. In captions, your own content – i.e. photos and videos – can be assigned to topics with a hashtag. Under Instagram Reels (accessible below the feed via the video icon) you can find short videos in TikTok style.

What particularly fascinates children and young people about Instagram?

The popularity of Instagram lies, among other things, in its focus on photos and videos. Various and easy-to-use tools help to get the best out of your own image. It is particularly appealing for young people to present themselves in the best light and test their effect on others. The app also makes it quick and easy to document and share the best moments with friends or family.

Children and young people are constantly finding new content about their idols on Instagram. They can follow what they are doing virtually around the clock, comment on pictures, like them, save them and forward them to other people. Insta is a great way to while away the time waiting for the bus or to keep an eye on what your crush from the next class is doing in his free time.

Influencers, stars and people with a creator account can create broadcast channels. With the help of an invitation link, users can join and invite other people. Children and young people find out even more about the (public) lives of their stars in the broadcast channels and receive news before people outside this channel.

At the end of 2023, Meta also launched the app in Germany Threads app in Germany. This is (closely) linked to Instagram.

What is problematic about the offer?

The joint privacy policy of Facebook and Instagram, which all users agree to when registering, allows the sharing of user data with other services of the parent company Meta and with third parties. The app enables so-called crossposting. This means that a photo can also be posted on Facebook can be shared. If you have a Facebook account, you should check the settings carefully when publishing posts.

Instagram can determine the location of users via the posts they make. Privately set accounts prevent this. In addition, access to the location can be set both in the app and in the app permissions on your own smartphone and tablet. Then Instagram cannot see the location of public accounts either. However, a location can be added to each posted image manually afterwards.

Content on Instagram is subject to payment if children and young people not only follow an account, but also subscribe to it. The monthly price is set by the creators themselves and the subscription can usually be canceled on a monthly basis. Subscribers have access to exclusive content such as pictures, reels and stories. If you would like to subscribe to an account, you will find a “Subscribe” button next to “Follow”/”Followed” and “Messages” on the profile. A single click on this button does not yet lead to a subscription, but must first be confirmed with further clicks.

Certain content on Instagram can be problematic for young people: Inappropriate content such as erotic images, dangerous challenges and disinformation, but also advertising. Influencer business models play a special role here, which young people do not always recognize.

Instagram harbors various communication risks through functions such as chats and comments. For example, contact from strangers, hate speech or online bullying can occur.

What does the provider think?

The official minimum age for using Instagram is 13, but there is no effective age control so far. Until your child is 18 years old, you must consent to its use. There are extensive usage and setting options. If your child is under the age of 13, they can use Instagram if you manage the account. This must be included in the profile description. Accounts of children and young people under the age of 18 are automatically set to private after creation. However, this can be changed in the settings afterwards and the profile can be set to public. At Handysektor you can read a short version of the terms of use and download a flyer with the most important safety information about Instagram for young people.

Since June 2022, there has been “parental supervision”, which allows parents to link their account to that of their child. We present all the setting options in this article. You can find out how Instagram itself wants to make the app safer for young people directly on the Instagram website.

What should parents pay attention to?

Together with your child, decide at what age and according to what rules he or she is allowed to use Instagram. Make various settings together so that your child can useInstagram as safely as possible. Not all photos have to be shared with everyone or even just with friends via the internet!

Talk to your child about communication risks on Instagram, from online bullying to cybergrooming. Show your child how they can block or report other users and explain to them when these functions are useful – for example, if someone insults your child in the comments. Your child should also not simply accept subscription requests from strangers and be sparing with their own data, such as their location.

Educate your child about risks such as harmful content, hate speech, disinformation and political opinion making. Talk to your child about the critical behavior of influencers and keep talking to them about one-sided role models and clichés. Stay interested and check in regularly to see who your child is following on Instagram and who is following them. It is important that your child knows that they can always talk to you if they have an unpleasant experience on the platform.

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.

What should I do if my child comes across porn online unintentionally?

Whether in class chats, on social media or via a search engine – many children and young people come across pornography while surfing, whether intentionally or not. According to a study conducted by the NRW Media Authority in 2023, the average age of first contact is 13, which is nothing unusual.

However, according to the JIM study by the Media Education Research Association Southwest 2023, one in four of the 12-19-year-olds surveyed came into contact with pornography unintentionally. When children and young people are unintentionally exposed to pornographic photos or videos, it can be overwhelming and stressful for them. It becomes particularly critical when it comes to so-called “hard pornography”.

Simple and hardcore pornography – what is it?

In the case of pornographic content, a distinction is made between simple and hardcore pornography:

  • Simple pornography shows sexual acts by adults, for example as photos, videos, audios or comics. Simple pornography is easily accessible on the internet, for example via special websites, but also via chats in messengers and on social media. Use is permitted for adults aged 18 and over. Providing minors with access to simple pornography is prohibited in Germany. Internet portals in Germany must ensure that age verification takes place.
  • Hard pornography shows violence, sexual acts with animals, sexual poses or sexual abuse of children and young people. The use and possession of hardcore pornography is absolutely forbidden in Germany and can lead to imprisonment. Nevertheless, this content is distributed on the internet, for example via websites, comment functions on social media or in chats.

You can find out more about the legal provisions on pornography on the Internet here at klicksafe.

What should I do if my child comes across simple pornography unintentionally?

Accompany your child as they take their first steps on the Internet and explain to them that they may come across content that they find unpleasant. If your child accidentally comes into contact with simple pornography, be there for them as a contact person. Especially with younger children, it is important not to leave them alone with such experiences. They are often unable to properly categorize what they see because it is outside their own sphere of experience. Provide age-appropriate information if your child asks questions about love and sexuality. If you are unsure, seek support, for example from the parents’ helpline of the Nummer gegen Kummer.

What should I do if my child comes across hardcore pornography online?

If your child shows you prohibited content of hard pornography on the Internet, for example on a website or social media, proceed as follows:

What should I do if hardcore pornography ends up in my child’s chat unintentionally?

The possession of depictions of abuse is a punishable offense; young people aged 14 and over are liable to prosecution in Germany. If your child is sent a photo or video via chat that is suspected of showing abuse of children and young people, you should act immediately:

  • Stay calm.
  • Do not take screenshots.
  • Do not save the contents.
  • Do not forward the content to other persons.
  • Secure the device, take it to the police and report it to the police.
  • Delete the content from the device and report the content to the service.
  • If you or your child are unsure or emotionally stressed, get help from digital counseling services.

Discuss these points with your child. The Internet Complaints Office has summarized further information on how to deal with misrepresentations on the Internet in this PDF document.

How can I protect my child?

Keep in touch with your child about their media use and prepare them for the fact that they may be confronted with problematic content or communication risks online. Establish media rules in the family that everyone adheres to. For example, not responding to contact from strangers or not clicking on links that strangers share in chat messages or emails. For younger children in particular, use technical measures to protect minors from harmful media, such as filter programs for surfing or children’s accounts for apps. Make settings such as deactivating the automatic media download on WhatsApp so that your child does not accidentally save prohibited material. Explain to your child what is allowed and what is not allowed when it comes to pornography. Make it clear to your child when forwarding pornographic content makes them liable to prosecution. In this article, you can read more tips on how you can help your child deal with pornography online and how you can protect them from content that is harmful to minors with the help of technical youth media protection.

Netflix – good streaming for families?

Netflix is one of the most popular streaming portals among families. We explain what to look out for if your child wants to watch movies or series there.

In brief

  • streaming platform of the US company Netflix, Inc.
  • Available in Germany since December 2014
  • Flexible monthly subscription: €4.99 (with advertising), €12.99 and €17.99 (without advertising, for two to four devices in parallel)
  • Up to five profiles can be created
  • Certified youth protection functions in accordance with German law

What is Netflix?

Netflix is a video streaming service where you have unlimited access to a huge selection of movies and series with your own account. The company has the rights to use them and also produces some films and series itself. Anyone who wants to use Netflix has to pay between €4.99 and €17.99 per month. The cheapest subscription has advertising in between – but this is soon to be completely removed. If you pay significantly more (at least 12.99 euros), you can stream on two or four devices simultaneously. Up to five profiles can be created per account with different settings, e.g. age rating, age rating, subtitle display or playback settings. The film and series suggestions in the profile also adhere to these settings, but what is actually suggested is calculated by an algorithm based on the viewing behavior of the individual user.

Account sharing, i.e. the use of an account by several people at the same time, is possible to a limited extent depending on the subscription. This is permitted with persons living in the same household. This is only permitted with persons from other households for an additional charge. The provider examines violations of this in various ways and demands compensation.

The subscription also includes Netflix games. Customers receive access to specially developed or licensed games for mobile devices. These can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or in the Google Play Store as separate game apps. There is no advertising or in-app purchases for the games.

What is problematic about the offer?

Netflix offers content for all ages. For the movies and series, the streaming service adopts the existing FSK rating. If there is no FSK rating, the age ratings are made by Netflix itself, which must comply with German law.

Due to the wide range of content on offer, there is also countless content for older teenagers (aged 16 and over) and adults (aged 18 and over) that can be frightening and problematic for children and young people. Parental controls can be set up by entering a PIN for selected age ratings or specific movie/series titles. In addition, profiles can be protected with a PIN and special children’s profiles can be set up.

Unlike with analog, linear television, you can theoretically watch series from start to finish. The appeal of spending a lot of time on Netflix is therefore high. Here, personal responsibility is required to limit one’s own viewing time . What is already difficult for some adults is even more difficult to control for children and even teenagers.

What does the provider think?

Netflix displays the respective age rating for movies/series in various places, on the overview page for the movie, in the detailed information or as an overlay at the beginning when playing. Also, individual titles can be locked for individual profiles. These will then also no longer appear in the search or in the suggestion list. In addition, individual profiles – e.g. the profile for adults or older children – can be assigned a PIN so that younger children do not have access. It is also possible to create children’s profiles. This gives you, as parents, the option of making settings appropriate to the age of your child. For example, you can see what content your child has watched in the last few days or you can prevent the next episode of a series from playing automatically.

What should parents pay attention to?

Pay attention to the age ratings of movies and series. Use the child or parental control options by creating appropriate profiles and protecting them with a secure PIN . This is the only way to ensure that your child cannot end up in the adult section from the child profile.

Only display titles suitable for children in the children’s profile; these are based on the age ratings 0, 6, 12, 16 or from 18 years. Consider whether automatically playing more episodes really makes sense for you. Also, you can have animation effects reduced in the child profile when navigating on the TV. When watching on portable devices, feel free to use the screen lock so that smaller children in particular cannot adjust anything on the device themselves.

Keep an eye on your child’s screen time. It’s best to set media rules together – and set a good example yourself. Media time should be just one of many other non-media activities. If you’re not sure how much time your child should spend in front of the TV or laptop, check out our video: “How much media time is too much?”

Ask your child about his or her favorite series or movies, and it’s best to watch them together so that your child doesn’t feel alone even during scary scenes. It can also turn the shared experience into a beautiful ritual .

Self-harm among young people – Eating disorders online

During puberty, adolescents’ bodies go through major changes that they first have to come to terms with. At the same time, young people are looking for affirmation and recognition. Social media such as Instagram,
TikTok
and
WhatsApp
also play a role: selfies are sent or posted in the hope of receiving positive feedback. Influencers show themselves in perfect and slim bodies that serve as role models for young people.

Sometimes young people cannot find a contact person among their family or friends or prefer to talk to strangers out of insecurity. The Internet offers many opportunities to obtain information and exchange information anonymously.

Supposed help in internet forums

In addition to a lot of helpful information, you can unfortunately also find offers on the Internet that glorify self-harming behavior by people – especially young people. Pro-ana or pro-mia blogs are forums where people suffering from an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia can contact each other and exchange ideas. It is mainly young girls who meet there. Pro-Ana or Pro-Mia are deliberately chosen abbreviations for Pro-Anorexia Nervosa (anorexia nervosa) and Pro-Bulimia Nervosa (binge eating disorder). Blogs are not about supporting each other in getting a handle on the disease. Instead, the disease is presented as a lifestyle. In “Thinspirations”, members of the communities share their photos and videos of beauty ideals. This can include features such as protruding bones or the gap between the thighs.

Hunger and weight loss groups in messengers and glorifying profiles on social media

In WhatsApp groups, young people encourage each other to eat as little as possible. These groups often come about via eating disorder blogs or calls on social media platforms. The group members take part in hunger challenges or have to prove that they have lost weight by taking a photo of the scales every week. Those who don’t follow the rules are kicked out or receive punishments such as deliberate vomiting or an extra portion of sport. The blogs and social media profiles also contain glorifying content such as professions of faith or the ten pro-ana commandments: “If I’m not thin, then I can’t be attractive” is the first commandment, for example.

Many pro-ana blogs have now been blocked or are no longer in operation. Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok and other social media platforms also block content with the respective hashtags and refer to advice services instead. However, there are still blogs that are not yet blocked and social media sites that are less strictly controlled, such as TikTok. This means that it is still easy to view glorifying images and videos or access WhatsApp groups.

Children and adolescents with eating disorders find reassurance in such online exchange spaces. The strong sense of community encourages them to continue their self-harming behavior. This can be particularly dangerous if risks are dismissed, group members are urged to keep their illness a secret and refuse outside help.

How you as a parent can protect your child from this

First of all, it is important that you are always the contact person for your child, also with regard to their Internet use. It is difficult for you to prevent your child from encountering inappropriate content. You should therefore talk to your child about the fact that there are also problematic sites and communication risks on the Internet and always stand by their side. If you yourself end up on websites that specifically glorify eating disorders, contact the platform’s support or have them checked by a reporting office.

Regardless of your child’s online use, you should always boost your child’s self-esteem and avoid negative comments about their appearance or weight. If you suspect an eating disorder, you can find information and help from counseling centers, e.g. the Federal Center for Health Education or digital counseling services for children and adolescents.

Prohibited symbols on the net

Anyone who smears a swastika on a house wall will be punished for it. But the street has long since ceased to be the sole place for the dissemination of forbidden symbols. On the internet, one click is all it takes to share a text, image or video with prohibited content with numerous readers. As in the physical world, there are also rules in the digital world. We provide information about prohibited symbols on the Internet.

What are prohibited symbols?

It is forbidden to use signs of unconstitutional organizations. This is stated in Section 86a of the Criminal Code. Such marks are symbols that can be clearly assigned to a specific organization, such as the swastika. Slogans such as “Heil Hitler” are also banned because they clearly refer to National Socialism. Unconstitutional organizations are banned parties, associations or Nazi organizations.

Rules on the net

Sharing prohibited symbols online is not always punishable by law. For example, if someone writes “Heil Hitler” in a private chat, this has no legal consequences. However, if the same person shares this publicly on platforms such as Facebook, X or TikTok, it is punishable by law. The distribution of such symbols in public spaces is prohibited by law.
Parents are not liable for their children if they share prohibited content under the age of 14. However, in most cases the youth welfare office is informed, which works with the parents and child to try to work through the background to the sharing. From the age of 14, juveniles can be prosecuted under the Criminal Code.

Dangers for children

Children can share forbidden symbols such as the swastika or SS runes online with a simple click, without understanding the potential legal consequences. In what way prohibited symbols are shared does not matter. Whether in text, photos or videos – public sharing in itself is punishable by law. That’s what makes it so treacherous, especially for children. Because a video or meme that seems funny at first glance may contain prohibited symbols. Anyone who is not familiar with it has quickly shared it and thus spread prohibited content.
It is also problematic that some symbols are banned in Germany, while they are permitted in other parts of the world. Symbols from the Nazi era in particular may be legally shared online in some countries. This is why children can unknowingly google, download and share the swastika – despite the ban in Germany. Extremist groups often use social networks to share banned symbols and content, as many people are reached and tracking is often difficult.

What should parents pay attention to?

Education and guidance: Find out together with your child which symbols are prohibited and why, in order to develop a better understanding of potentially problematic content. It is important and permitted to show such symbols for educational purposes and to explain the background and consequences. A good and quick overview is provided by the Democracy and Diversity website and the NinA NRW project. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has detailed descriptions of various distinctive signs and symbols of right-wing extremist movements.

Delete and report: If you or your child receive a forbidden symbol in private chats, delete it immediately. If you discover any on the Internet, it is important to report them to the police or to complaints offices on the Internet.

Open communication: Encourage an open exchange about online activities. Encourage your child to talk about their experiences online, including unpleasant or worrying situations.

Encourage critical thinking: Strengthen your child’s critical thinking in the online environment. Discuss how to critically scrutinize news and content on the Internet.

Against trivialization: Take an active stand against the trivialization of prohibited symbols. Explain to your child that these symbols represent extremist ideologies in today’s world.

For resistance: Encourage your child to take a stand against the distribution of prohibited symbols. Promote a positive online community, stand up for tolerance and democratic values.

The streaming service Cliq – one service for everything?

The streaming service Cliq attracts customers with a wide range of multimedia offerings for films, series, sport, music, audio books and games. One app, all in one, so to speak. The service also aims to be the cheapest provider in Germany. We explain what’s behind it.

In short

  • Streaming service for films and series, sport, music, audio books and games
  • App for iOS and Android, Fire TV stick, Chromecast TV or via web browser
  • 6.99 euros/month, can be canceled at any time
  • Children’s profile for 0 to 12-year-olds possible
  • Games category: NO adequate protection for children and young people

What is behind the offer?

Cliq is a streaming service with a diverse selection: numerous German and international films, often rather older, but also blockbusters, slightly fewer series with documentary and history series, sports broadcasts, music with video, but without your own playlists, various cloud games and some audio books, albeit without a timer function. Cliq offers practical functions such as download options, parental controls and simultaneous streaming on several devices without advertising for games and audio books. In contrast to the competition, there is only one subscription model with which all multimedia areas can be accessed. There is also a rental model; the subscription includes one rental film per month.

What fascinates children and young people about it?

Cliq addresses the needs of children and young people at different stages of their lives by offering age-appropriate content. Under “Kids” there is an area for children with a manageable selection of older entertainment media: from children’s films to animated series, music stations to romp around or fall asleep to games. The “Kids” service is aimed at children under the age of 12, which is why all films, series and games there have an appropriate age rating. Most videos are labeled with the statutory age ratings of the FSK (Voluntary Self-Regulation of the Film Industry), i.e. FSK 0 or FSK 6.

What can be problematic?

Much of the content on the streaming service is not suitable for children and young people and can be frightening or problematic. Parents should protect their profile with a PIN and set up a special children’s profile. In the children’s profile, films and series are marked with the corresponding official age ratings. However, nothing can be filtered so that all content up to the age of 12 is always visible and therefore clickable for children. Music, audio books and games have no visible age rating or recommendation on Cliq. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to tell from the covers what age it might or might not be suitable for.

For many games, it is absolutely incomprehensible why they can be found in the children’s area at all. Games with an official age rating of 16 or 18 (such as USK 18 or PEGI 18) can be found there without any indication. This gives parents a false sense of security. Children should never play there unsupervised.

From the age of 13, young people at Cliq are assigned to the adult area. There, they are confronted with all available content completely unprotected – including content that is not suitable for their age. There are no age ratings and no corresponding recommendations or filter functions.
The youth protection laws in Germany require that all content (games/films) have an appropriate age rating and a corresponding protective measure – neither of which Cliq currently fulfills.

The appeal of spending a lot of time on a streaming service is very high. Here, personal responsibility is required to limit one’s own viewing time . What is already difficult for some adults is even more difficult to control for children and even teenagers.

What does the provider think?

The provider emphasizes the importance of data protection and security and provides parents with tools to monitor and restrict usage. Parents can protect their profile with a PIN and set up a special children’s profile.

This is what parents should pay attention to

Use the child profile and protect it with a secure PIN (no dates of birth or simple sequences such as 1234) so that your child cannot switch between profiles. However, be sure to check the age ratings of films, series and games yourself. Accompany your child when using media. Be approachable when questions or fears arise. And watch your child when they are watching videos or playing games. Keep an eye on how much time your child spends on the streaming service. Binge-watching can also occur in children and young people, for example.

Select content together and define media rules together with your child. And keep yourself regularly informed about current functions and parental control settings.

In our video series “You ask – we answer,” our media educator Melanie Endler explains why you shouldn’t leave children alone when watching series:

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Use Instagram safely

The social network Instagram continues to be very popular with children and young people, but is repeatedly criticized for not protecting them sufficiently. Instagram is working to improve security on the platform. The latest innovations:

  • By default, children and young people cannot receive direct messages from people they do not follow or with whom they are not connected – this also applies to other minors.
  • Parents must approve or reject changes to Instagram settings in Parental Controls, including security and privacy settings.
  • There are plans to introduce a new feature to protect children and young people from inappropriate images in messages. It is also intended to prevent minors from sending such images themselves in future.

Why were innovations necessary?

Minors were often unprotected on the platform, received inappropriate advertising, were tempted to use it extensively and could be contacted by strangers without restriction.

The legal situation in Germany has changed with the amendment of the German Youth Protection Act. Providers of social media platforms are now obliged to set up protective measures for minors. For example, there must be default settings so that strangers cannot simply contact minors. In addition, parents must be able to monitor and control their children.

What has already been adapted?

It is now more difficult to circumvent the age limit (use from the age of 13). Any person who Instagram wants to use must necessarily indicate their age, otherwise the account may be blocked. In addition, it is planned that accounts of minors will automatically be “private”. This means that young people decide for themselves who can see their profile. So far, this has been a voluntary option.

Protection from strangers: Minors can only be contacted by people or tagged in posts if they follow them themselves. If a stranger wants to follow minors, he/she will receive a warning. Posts by “suspicious” persons under the public posts of minors are now automatically invisible. It is also easier to delete your own posts, comments and other footprints.

The so-called parental control for Instagram has been in place since June 2022. Accounts of an adult can be linked to accounts of users under the age of 18. Both sides must agree and can end the parental supervision with a click. This makes it possible:

  • View usage times from the last week, set time limits or set breaks together with your child, for example during school or bedtime
  • A feature is planned that will remind young people at night that it is late and encourage them to close the app after spending more than 10 minutes on Reels or direct messages.
  • Weekly report: Who does your child follow, which new followers have been added
  • Children can inform parents if they report content to support while on duty. Parents can find out more about reporting or get expert advice in this section.
  • Not possible: Parents cannot read their children’s private messages or delete their account.

There is also a guide for parents with tips on how to deal with Instagram use, a list of suggestions for a conversation about use and a glossary of important terms.

What should you know about the new settings?

  • The true age of users cannot be determined with certainty. This means that a child can make themselves older and the security settings do not work. This problem exists on other social media platforms as well. In the future, artificial intelligence will help here, but this is still being tested.
  • There are no public guidelines as to when the behavior of adults on the platform is considered “suspicious” and comments are therefore no longer visible. The decision is therefore in the hands of the platform.

What do parents need to keep in mind?

  • Trust and dialog: If you as a parent gain insight into your child’s Instagram use, make sure you do not violate their privacy – because children and young people also have a right to this. Control doesn’t feel good for children and young people either. It is better to build a relationship of trust. Talk to your child about what he or she is doing on Instagram. Be open and interested!
  • Informing about risks: At the same time, you should also inform your child about possible dangers such as harmful content, hate speech, disinformation and manipulative content for political opinion making, war videos or fake videos. Communication risks ranging from cyberbullying to cybergrooming can also be addressed. Show your child which settings make the platform safer to use.
  • Support: Parental supervision can be a good way to support your child during their first time with the app. Support your child by setting up the account together and regularly discussing who is or will be subscribed. But this should happen in a constant exchange with each other. If your child sets their own account to private, you will no longer be able to see the postings.
  • Also ensure an appropriate service life.

Instagram has upgraded – but responsible use is still important. There are more tips for you as parents on how to talk to your child about safety, wellbeing and mental health on social media in the family section.

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