There seems to be something for young and old on Disney+: from cartoon classics such as Snow White and Mickey Mouse to big blockbusters such as Star Wars and the most popular Disney films of recent years such as The Ice Queen. What parents should know about the offer.
The streaming portal offers a large selection of films and series, similar to Netflix, Amazon Prime and the like. In addition to successful movies from Walt Disney and Pixar in recent years, older Disney films are also available. In addition, there are exciting documentaries from National Geographic. Episodes of current Disney Channel series are also published on the platform at weekly intervals. This way, there is less danger of watching through an entire season without a break. There is also the option of downloading content (does not apply to the subscription model with advertising). With the Standard and Premium subscriptions, Disney+ can also be used on the go with any internet-enabled device. So far, the offer is not as large as on Netflix, for example. However, more and more films are being added.
Disney+ is clear and easy to use for children. The wide range of popular franchises such as Marvel and Star Wars offers both familiar and new adventures. Until February 2021, there were no films with an age rating above FSK 12 or certain scenes were cut out of individual films so that they are also suitable for younger children. In the “Star” category that was then added, adult content is now also available. Adults enjoy the favorite films of their own childhood.
Disney+ has additional parental control settings despite primarily adult content. However, films from the age of 12 can also be found in the offer. Especially smaller children can still be frightened by such films. It is therefore important to guide children in their film selection and viewing.
By creating a children’s profile (called Junior mode), films that are not approved for younger children are not displayed. There is no specific age rating. Disney+ decides what is displayed in Junior mode. This means that films and series with a rating of 0 are also missing from the children’s profile. In the children’s profile, you can, for example, prevent the next episode of a series from playing automatically and the user interface is simplified. Parental controls can be used to assign a PIN to individual profiles – e.g. the profile for adults or older children – so that younger children do not have access. Individual titles cannot be hidden.
If you want to set the age rating yourself, you can assign an age rating to a normal profile (without parental control, without junior mode): 0, 6, 12, 16 or 18 years. However, depending on the subscription model, advertising will run in such a profile.
Each profile, with the exception of the main profile, can also be subsequently converted into a children’s profile (junior mode).
Disney states that advertising content such as clips and trailers for content available on Disney+ or for other Disney products can be shown. Live content can also contain traditional commercial breaks and other advertising formats. There is no advertising in Junior mode. Incidentally, there are no in-app purchases with Disney+, which can lead to unwanted costs, especially for children and young people. And if tobacco products are shown in a movie, Disney draws attention to this with a warning at the beginning.
Account sharing, i.e. the use of an account by several people at the same time, is prohibited under the terms and conditions, but is possible. From 2024, Disney+ will take decisive action against this breach of the rules.
Since Disney+ is primarily aimed at children, they will quickly become accustomed to having access to their favorite series and movies at all times.
Especially accompany young children watching movies. Find out about specific movies and series in advance. Choose age-appropriate programs, for a younger child rather short episodes than long films. Also, schedule plenty of screen-free time for other activities such as walks in the fresh air or hobbies. Talk about set media times within the family.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Addiction, violence, conspiracy theories, cyberbullying – sometimes you can get the impression that the Internet only brings out the worst in us.
But they do exist: the good sites on the worldwide web. The positive and age-appropriate content, the good news, the community and cohesion. We present valuable digital offerings for children and young people.
For the youngest users, the Internet is a vast space that is difficult to navigate at first. There is a gigantic offer of pages and content. But beware: most of the sites are aimed at adults.
Especially the classic access to the web via Google -search engine often leads to results that are, at best, boring and incomprehensible for children, at worst, frightening and traumatizing. But there are other ways: With children of kindergarten and elementary school age, parents are best off turning before Google – and using children’s search engines. The best-known search engines are Blinde Kuh and fragFINN. Here, every search displays child-friendly, vetted sites that are guaranteed to be fun.
If you are looking for good websites or apps, you don’t have to despair at the flood of offers, but will find recommendations and tips bundled together. Seitenstark features more than 60 tested children’s websites with high standards of quality and protection of children and young people from harmful media. Here children can find everything on topics such as nature and the environment, music and film, history and politics, or religion. The app database of the DJI (German Youth Institute) presents good children’s apps. Those interested in news will find age-appropriate information on news sites for children. The EU initiative klicksafe gives children valuable tips on how to use media safely.
But the offer does not have to remain purely passive: many websites offer opportunities to participate, such as the safe photo community Knipsclub, the portal Kindersache or other participation platforms.
And when the children get older? Then, in most cases, inappropriate search results are no longer the problem. Young people are moving more independently online, using social media platforms in particular for information and exchange. There they are confronted with many things – from negative headlines and political extremes to communication risks such as hate and bullying. And dubious role models, unrealistic life goals, such as those conveyed by influencers, can also be problematic.
For parents, it’s important to stay in communication with their child about what content they encounter online, what’s okay – and where they should rather steer clear.
Also, parents can give suggestions on valuable sites on the net. If you’re looking for positive news, for example, you’ll find it on sites like https://goodnews.eu/ or ZDF ‘s “Good News”. And thus perhaps creates a balance to the eternal negative news spiral, the doomscrolling.
There are many people and providers on social media platforms who stand for good, positive topics and values – and also good dealings. Starting with activists like Luisa Neubauer on Instagram for the climate or Raul Krauthausen on Facebook for inclusion. Under hashtags like #bodypositivity, stars like Sarah Nicole Landry convey a positive body image. This can be good for adolescents going through puberty.
And the great thing is that if you start following positive people and content, the algorithm helps you right along and flushes even more pleasant content onto your screen. This can quickly create a friendlier, more positive bubble where young people can feel more comfortable and safe than in the unfiltered social media world.
Whether for children, teenagers or adults, one thing is clear: There’s everything on the Internet. The good news and the bad, the beautiful sides and the terrible, the nice encounters and the unpleasant ones. Just everything that people have up their sleeves. And on and offline, we can and must choose well for ourselves what we want to occupy ourselves with.
Therefore, accompany your child to the net. Use – in consultation with your child – solutions for technical youth media protection such as settings on the smartphone, youth protection apps or special software. This can be used to secure devices and filter out content that is not age-appropriate.
Show your child the “good parts,” suggest content, and also talk about how they can choose content, why they should choose critically, and the impact the people and issues we engage with every day can have on us. The klicksafe materials, for example, are suitable for discussions about media use or for agreeing on rules with each other.
And if you do have unpleasant encounters with hate, extremism or the like, it’s also good to know the right places to go. We present these to you in the article “Digital counseling services for young people and parents“.
Cyberbullying, harassment, extremist content – some app and social network operators can delete images and other content if it is brought to their attention. A crucial step in this direction is reporting online problems. This article introduces hotlines.
Reporting problematic behavior or content enables the responsible institutions and organizations to act quickly and protect your child. By reporting, you can help prevent similar incidents in the future, for example by removing a shocking video. In some cases, problematic online behavior can have criminal consequences. Reporting such incidents can help ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.
Some of the most common types of online problems that should be reported:
You can always report a problem directly in the app where it occurs. For example, if it violates the usage policy, threatens security, or harasses. Or when it is urgent and requires immediate action. Reporting in the app enables faster response and action from app administrators. To do this, look for an option like “Report,” “Send feedback,” or “Help” – these are often located in the app’s settings or menu.
In addition, there are official hotlines set up specifically to report problematic online behavior:
Young people and parents can report online problems such as cyberbullying, harassment or inappropriate content to the contact point. The website provides clear guidance and resources to help parents understand and carry out the reporting process. You will also find information on the rights of children and young people in the digital space.
The FSM is an institution concerned with the protection of children and young people in the media. The FSM’s complaints office enables parents and other users to report problematic content on the Internet. The complaints office examines the reports and can take action to stop the dissemination of problematic content if necessary.
This government agency deals with the protection of minors from harmful media in Germany. Here you can report violations related to content harmful to minors. The website provides clear guidance and advice on how to report problematic content. In addition, jugendschutz.net informs about current developments in the field of youth media protection.
The Internet Complaint Center is a central point of contact for reporting illegal content on the Internet, especially in connection with child sexual abuse. It works closely with the relevant law enforcement agencies to remove such content and prosecute offenders.
Familiarize yourself with the various reporting options. Do not hesitate to take advantage of them. Educate your child about potential conflicts online. Encourage it to tell you about problems. Use parental control settings and programs.
Keep an eye on your child’s online activities and stay in the loop so you can respond to problems early.
In addition, if you feel overwhelmed or unsure about how to deal with certain online issues, you can seek counseling services. There are some counseling services for youth and parents. The number against sorrow offers, for example, a youth counseling service and a parents’ hotline for problems such as excessive demands, worries or parenting problems.
“Dad, how do you spell “sister”?” – many children around preschool age are inquisitive when it comes to learning to write. The first attempts with a piece of paper and pen can sometimes be frustrating. It takes a bit of practice until all the letters are clearly recognizable and your child finds his or her own print writing. The learning app I write in block letters want to help with this.
I write in print is a learning app for children to learn how to write and read print. There are five different categories. The simplest category is about tracing simple symbols. Basically, in each category, your child will be shown how to move their finger. If it has done its task well, it is rewarded with small funny animations that it can influence a little itself. The next categories are similar in structure and include the alphabet in upper and lower case letters and the numbers from zero to nine. Different fonts are available, for example Germany (North), Germany (Bavaria) or German Switzerland.
In addition, your child is always told which letter or number is currently visible via audio playback. The last category then involves writing whole words. This is where the special functions of I write in print come into their own, because you can configure many things yourself in the app. You can add as many words as you like to the already given words. You can also record the corresponding audio playbacks yourself. Also, the app supports different user accounts, so multiple children can use the app at the same time. I write in print even saves all the children’s input – so you can see in reports what tasks your child does, how accurate they were and if there are any possible sources of error.
At the latest when your child comes into contact with older children, e.g. with older siblings who can already write, the desire arises in many to be able to handle pen and paper themselves. The learning app gives playful practice in writing and reading print, which the children often enjoy very much. The “5 star mode” with increasing difficulty motivates children to become better and better and to receive a star as a reward for each successful attempt.
The app is recommended for ages four and up, but writing and reading are actually taught in elementary school. Children who already have skills by then tend to be bored frequently in class. However, it is a good sign if your child is enthusiastic about learning and wants to learn to write.
The app developer L’Escapadou claims not to store user data outside the app. The app is ad-free and offers a variety of settings to adjust the learning app to the child’s learning progress. For example, the appearance, sounds, animations and speeds of the tasks can be customized. In the “5-star mode”, the difficulty level can be changed. A parental lock ensures that the child stays on task. The game time limit shortens the game with the animations per task to a few seconds or minutes. A PDF can be created from the tasks and printed out to practice writing with pen and paper as well.
If your inquisitive child already feels the desire to learn to read and write before starting school, you should be positive about it and support him or her. I write in print is a child-friendly program that introduces children to writing in a playful way. However, some parents tend to expect too much from their children too soon. Your child does not need to be able to read and write before school! After all, that’s what school is for.
When your child goes to school, the app can be a good companion to the lessons. Writing on the tablet or smartphone with your finger is fun for kids. At the latest in school, it must learn to write with a pen. If your child is advanced, use a tablet pen or create individual worksheets from the app so your child can practice with the writing device in parallel.
In any case, accompany your child during the first steps and be available for questions.
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.
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.
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.
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:
In today’s connected world, it is very important to protect your child’s privacy, especially when using social media platforms:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The FSK evaluates various media in the film and entertainment industry when a review is requested, in particular
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.
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.
The following indications and problem areas have particular relevance for the respective release:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
The age rating symbols awarded include USK 0 (released without age restriction), USK 6, USK 12, USK 16 and USK 18 (no youth rating).
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.
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:
There are many ways to do small media projects with kids. Especially uncomplicated are projects around photography. Because there is actually a camera in every family, whether in the smartphone or as its own device. Plus, you don’t have to depend on the Internet or a power outlet (when the battery is charged) to take photos. So some ideas can also be implemented quite easily outside! What kind of camera you use for a small photo project, whether photo camera, smartphone or tablet does not matter in most cases. You can get creative together with your child and try out what can be photographed besides selfies and vacation snapshots – with the photo camera on the go.
Anyone who takes photos themselves knows that the view through the camera lens is often a different one. When photographing, perspectives and proportions change completely. Go on a journey of discovery with your child. Macro photography, for example, is particularly well suited for this. That is, you get very close to objects. If available, you can also use the zoom of the camera to help you. Flowers, insects and other things look much bigger with it. This way, you can discover things together that you didn’t consider before. No less exciting is taking photos from a great distance or height. You can go in search of the best places to take pictures.
You may know this photo action from your vacation in Paris or Pisa. Photos are taken there that look as if the leaning tower is being propped up or the Eiffel Tower is being gently held between index finger and thumb.
The technique is called forced perspective. This allows you to make objects appear larger or smaller than they actually are by positioning yourself at a certain distance. This often results in funny photos that do not correspond to reality.
Such perspective photos can be easily implemented at home or outside, because any building or object can be forced into funny and crazy perspectives. Just try it out with your kids – “play” with different perspectives.
For a fun YouTube video to get inspired, click here:
Do you still know the photo love stories from Bravo? Behind it is the simple comic principle, combining images and short texts. Photos always tell stories and children love stories. Think up a little story together and package it as a photo story. This way, children can also try out their acting talent. It is even easier to create collages on a specific theme, such as “animals” or “nature”. With various apps, you can easily edit, arrange images and add text. Among other things, “Pic’s Art Photo and Collage” and “Edit Pic Collage Photo” let you edit pictures, create collages and insert stickers. “Snapseed”, on the other hand, relies on filters and correcting sharpness and contrast.
If your child has taken particularly successful photos, he or she can present them to other children in a children’s photo community such as Knipsclub or Kamerakinder. While on Instagram and the like, it’s usually the shining filter, a virtual wreath of flowers on the head or the rushing sea in the background that leads to lots of likes, the Knipsclub or the camera kids are all about the essentials: taking photos. Many photo activities and the nomination of the “Photo of the Month” encourage people to participate and try things out. In the digital exhibition, images can be marked with “Like” and commented on. Children up to about 12 years old can exchange ideas with each other. A kids’ photo community is a safe place to try out social network options in a protected space before your child posts photos and more on Instagram and other social apps starting in their teens. Talk to your child about what kinds of photos they share and which ones may be nobody’s business.
Another great idea, for advanced photographers is painting with light, also called light painting. A guide on how to do this with children can be found at“Growing up well with media“.
“But I want to watch TV longer, just a little bit more!” – this child substitute should be familiar to most parents. Television – whether via the classic offerings or via streaming – is a popular topic of contention in families and often leads to discussions. Reconciling the children’s wishes with the adults’ ideas is not always easy. How long can I let my child watch TV without a guilty conscience? How do I select suitable shipments? What devices and channels do people watch on? FLIMMO, the parents’ guide to TV, streaming, YouTube and cinema, was created precisely to answer questions of this kind.
On the flimmo.de website, you as a parent can quickly find out whether a particular series or program is suitable for your child. You will also find out what is currently on TV and whether there is something suitable for your child. Children not only use traditional TV programming, but also watch on streaming platforms, YouTube or in media libraries. FLIMMO experts try to check all interesting offers for children. The focus is on the perspective of young media users: What do they like about movies, series or shows? What causes them problems? What do they like to watch and why? How do they deal with media experiences and how do they process them?
The assessments point out problematic issues or warn of possible excessive demands. In the same way, it is made clear what interests, fascinates or amuses children at the respective age. Pedagogical assessments make it clear what children like about a film or series, what can be problematic and what parents should pay particular attention to. FLIMMO also addresses questions about media education in the family: How much media time is okay? What rules help and how do you get siblings under one roof? What is important when dealing with YouTube? The guidebook helps parents meet the challenges of everyday media life with brief information and practical tips.
FLIMMO reviews movies, series, documentaries and theatrical films that children between the ages of 3 and 13 like to watch – or want to watch. A traffic light shows at a glance whether a film, series or YouTube channel is suitable for children or not – and if so, from what age:
Green: This content is suitable from the respective age and is well received by children. You will find entertaining, exciting, funny and educational.
Yellow: There are problematic aspects from a pedagogical point of view. These can be questionable role models or heroines who rely exclusively on violence. Parents should keep an eye on how children deal with this and take countermeasures if necessary.
Red: There are elements that can overwhelm, unsettle or frighten children. Regardless of age, such content is not suitable for children.
FLIMMO is a project of the non-profit association Programmberatung für Eltern e.V. It is scientifically and pedagogically based. Experienced media educators from the JFF – Institute for Media Education take care of the content and ratings. FLIMMO also regularly surveys 3- to 13-year-olds about their preferences.
Even though the offer is primarily aimed at you as a parent, it can be exciting to click through the website’s content together with your child. FLIMMO ‘s simple and clear rating system is well suited for finding suitable content. If your child tells you about an interesting series or YouTube channel, you can look up what FLIMMO has to say about it together.
Many children make their first media experiences through audio media – whether audio books before bedtime, music in the nursery or children’s radio during the car ride. The selection is huge and the playback devices have long since gone beyond cassette recorders and CD players. People are increasingly listening via mobile devices, voice assistants and listening boxes.
Audio media offer many advantages, especially for young children. They can be used as a sideline medium for playing and painting, but can also be used for relaxation. In addition, turning on the children’s program at a fixed time can be a nice ritual that gives your child security and routine.
Traditional radio has evolved its distribution channels and offers a range of content suitable for children. There are special children’s radio stations and also radio stations with children’s programming that can be used both via conventional channels and via the associated website (livestream via web radio) or via app.
Regular podcasts and themed specials from children’s radio stations have the advantage that they pick up on current events and phenomena and explain them in a way that is suitable for children. The child’s perspective is taken into account and content that concerns and interests your child is discussed. Auch die Möglichkeit zum Mitmachen und des Meinungsaustausches in Form von Höreranrufen ist bei einigen Radiosendern für Kinder gegeben, wie bei Kakadu oder Radio TEDDY.
So next time you’re driving, turn on the children’s radio station or listen to a streaming children’s podcast while you’re doing housework together. We adults often learn something in the process 🙂
Other recommended radio programs for children:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Invitations for the children’s birthday party, Christmas presents for the parents, homemade jewelry – or a new living room cabinet made from grandma’s old dresser? Anyone who wants to get creative with their hands doesn’t have to look far for instructions and ideas these days, because video platforms like YouTube and social media apps like Instagram are full of DIY pros who are happy to share their ideas and instructions: DIY influencers.
DIY comes from the English “Do it yourself”. And they really do everything themselves, from cakes to winter jackets to racing bikes, explain the work steps – and usually have the right product tips in their luggage.
Anyone who has taken a look around the popular platforms knows that you can do almost anything yourself. With enough patience, motivation and the right materials. Accordingly, there are DIY channels on all kinds of topics, we present three.
Sally Özcan for example, has turned her passion for sweets into a profession. On her account “Sally’s World,” Sally bakes everything from cookies to elaborate themed cakes – and everyone can join in. The fun of pretty desserts has already attracted 2 million YouTube subscribers, so in addition to video and her blog, Sally also runs a podcast and her own store.
If you prefer wood and stone instead of flour and sugar, you’ll find the perfect solution at Easy Alex you’ll find lots of ideas and instructions. The do-it-yourselfer fills his Instagram account with ideas on home remodeling, room makeovers and more, appealing to some 250,000 followers.
And when the house is finished and the decoration is still missing? Then there are a whole lot of “decorating” channels where home and life design ideas never seem to run out. Linda Seel for example, shows us all kinds of creative ideas for occupation, from embroidery to IKEA hacks to complete room design, and has thus reached 130,000 users on YouTube.
While crafting with mom and dad usually drops significantly in the coolness ranking at some point in elementary school, DIY with a tablet is suddenly all the rage. For children and young people, the DIY explainers on the Internet are sometimes real stars and role models. Because here everyone will find exactly the niche they enjoy. Whether it’s elaborate cupcakes or cardboard artwork, the palette is almost inexhaustible. Young creatives can find exactly the instructions and ideas they like and enjoy – even far beyond their parents’ repertoire. Here, children and young people can learn and create something that they themselves are proud of. Often they are elaborate things that even the adults can not do, and therefore admire them all the more. In a phase of life in which young people are constantly searching for their own talents, themes and identity, this can be meaningful. And as a nice side effect, there are sometimes gifts for the whole family.
Parents can basically rejoice once when their own child discovers his creative side via online craft book. Nevertheless, there are a few points to discuss here as well:
Not all instructions are actually implemented as easily with a snap of the fingers as it seems in the video. So that your child is not quickly frustrated and loses the desire to do it yourself again: Support your child in finding instructions that match the level of difficulty of your child’s ability and experience.
What’s more, DIY influencers are like others in the industry: they make money from their content. They recommend products or content that they get paid for by companies as an advertising partnership – but not necessarily because the content is actually convincing. Promote your child’s media literacy by helping them understand these connections and critically question the videos accordingly.