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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.

Age-appropriate media for my child

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

Age-appropriate media – what does that mean?

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

Verified media content

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

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

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

Suitable media offerings and guidance for parents

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

Here you can find good media offers and information:

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

Tips for your own evaluation of offers

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

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

Individual support and communication

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

Teddy and doll listen in – Smart Toys in the nursery

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

This is what the smart toys can do

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

Smart toys for children

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

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

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

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

Are smart toys useful or dangerous?

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

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

Parents have a responsibility

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

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

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

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 .

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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Gaming with the games console? Of course!

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

Nintendo Switch

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

Xbox

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

Playstation

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

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

What parents should pay attention

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

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

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

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

Virtual parents’ evening on 23.04.2024 from 5 to 6 pm

My first smartphone (held in German)

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

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

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

Information and registration

Date: 23.04.2024 | Time: 5 to 6 pm

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

Moderation: FSM e.V.

Platform: The virtual parents’ evening is realized via the tool “Zoom”.

Privacy Notice: Zoom is a service of Zoom Video Communications Inc. which is based in the USA. We use Zoom via the German operator easymeet24. easymeet24 ‘s server is located in Europe. Furthermore, within the Zoom service we have chosen the configurations with the highest data and security protection.
Please also take note of our privacy policy. The event will be held in German.

Registration:

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    Monitor my child via Bluetooth tracking?

    A button on the jacket, an app on the cell phone – and all parental worries about lost children are a thing of the past once and for all, because the child can simply be tracked in an emergency. Sounds great? But Bluetooth tracking has its pitfalls …

    Bluetooth tracking – what is it actually?

    The days when children had to mark their paths with breadcrumbs, as in Hansel and Gretel, are over. Today we live in modern media worlds and can track children instead of looking for them. This works, for example, via devices such as smartwatches that locate themselves via GPS and immediately pass on the child’s location to the parents.

    But there is another option and that is Bluetooth trackers. The best known are probably the Apple Airtags or Samsung SmartTags, but there are also many other trackers from other providers. These small devices, the size and appearance of key rings, were originally designed to make objects easier to find. If you attach it to your key ring, wallet, bobby car – or even your child – you can locate it via Bluetooth if necessary. The connection between the tracker and smartphone (app) does not work via satellites as with GPS, but directly via radio waves. The tracker connects to an accessible smartphone with a tracker app and can thus determine and send an approximate location. Compared to GPS trackers, Bluetooth trackers are often smaller and lighter, the battery lasts longer and there are no monthly fees. However, they also work somewhat less accurately, especially in the countryside when there are only a few smartphones nearby.

    What can be problematic about Bluetooth tracking

    Bluetooth trackers are not the magic cure for relaxed childcare.

    On the one hand, Bluetooth is not technically the ultimate in searches: the trackers only really work if there are many matching devices in the vicinity. It therefore makes sense to use a popular tracking app, which is also installed on many other smartphones and helps to determine the location. In the forest, for example, they make no sense at all. In addition, they can only transmit an approximate location. For this reason, a specific area must still be searched in large crowds.

    On the other hand, the legal situation is still a little unclear. After all, children also have personal rights – and these include the right not to be monitored without their consent. So at the very least, a conversation and the child’s consent are required to fit them with a tracker. There is also the aspect of data economy to consider: if children are constantly sending and receiving Bluetooth data, strangers can also obtain location information that is none of their business.

    And then there is the relationship aspect: secretly monitoring a child is not conducive to building trust in the relationship.

    To track or not to track – what parents should consider

    So what to do when the question of a tracker arises?

    Have an open conversation with your child and discuss the arguments and scenarios with them in an age-appropriate manner. There are certainly situations – for example in amusement parks, at events or similar – where a tracker gives both you as parents and your child a certain freedom of movement and security. Anxious children in particular may be able to take more independent steps with a tracker in their pocket. In other, less dangerous moments, your child can also enjoy your trust and learn their own strategies for finding their way around.

    In all of this, it is important that your child does not get the feeling that they are being monitored or that you do not trust them. So be sure to talk about the ideas and arguments, possibilities and limitations of trackers – and decide together in which situations they seem useful and helpful to all family members and when not. At around 6 to 7 years of age, you can explain the tracking measure to your child in a child-friendly way.

    Help, my child watches porn!

    Whether via search engines, messengers or social media – many children and young people come into contact with pornographic content online at an early age, by chance and without intention as well as out of curiosity and interest. For parents, this can be frightening when they eventually realize that their child is watching porn. Why this is not abnormal, what pornographic content can be problematic and how you should deal with it, you will learn in this article.

    Access to porn

    While porn used to be found mainly in special stores or video stores and was only accessible to adults, it is now very easy to find it on the Internet. Besides, you won’t be seen and it doesn’t necessarily cost anything. This is not only true for adults. Children and adolescents develop their own sexuality during puberty at the latest. They are looking for guidance and role models. Since sex is often still a taboo subject, people like to seek the anonymity of the net. Here they can get smart unobserved before the sexuality is lived out with others. However, provocative nude pictures of men and women can suddenly pop up on the cell phone display quite unintentionally when your child actually just wants to watch a series, research for school online or write in the class chat.

    Also on popular platforms such as
    YouTube
    and
    Instagram
    you can find photos and videos showing people with little clothing and in erotic poses. Such content is not pornography and is therefore available for all to view. However, they can still be unpleasant or even disturbing for some children, especially younger ones.

    Protection from pornography

    In Germany, youth media protection ensures that children and young people under the age of 18 are protected from content on the Internet that could endanger them or impair their development. Some content, e.g. violent pornography or depictions of the sexual abuse of children and young people, is generally prohibited for everyone!

    Pornographic content in which sex is depicted in detail is permitted in Germany, but only for adults aged 18 and over. This means that access may only be possible after a secure age check. This is strictly checked for porn sites from Germany.

    The situation is different for sites from other countries, some of whose porn content is freely accessible. Many platforms with pornographic content such as OnlyFans are not approved for minors. However, use is often possible by clicking on the “I am 18 years or older” button. However, large porn websites must now comply with the European Union’s Digital Services Act and implement much stricter rules.

    Why porn can be problematic

    Porn is particularly appealing to adolescents in puberty – also because it is forbidden. They are particularly susceptible to such stimuli and go in search of pornographic content or curiously click on the pages they happen to come across. Especially when the topic of sexuality is taboo at home and they don’t want to talk about it with their parents, they resort to what they find on the net. And that’s not necessarily age-appropriate.

    The quick availability of such content can be particularly appealing when, for example, you’re just looking for a distraction or want to escape from your everyday problems. A habit can turn into addiction for some young people. Besides, watching porn regularly can develop ideas about sex that don’t have much to do with reality. Sex and pornography are equated with love and relationship. Some young people then expect their own love life to look the same. This also includes the development of your own body. This can stress teens out if they want to become sexually active themselves. Or the girlfriend or boyfriend is put under pressure to present himself or herself in the same way, film it and send the video. Voluntary and consensual sexting is okay, but the images must not be blackmailed or misused. You can learn more about sexting in our article about it.

    What you should pay attention to as a parent

    Sex is part of our lives. Do not make the topic taboo and always be open and willing to talk. Provide age-appropriate education when your child asks questions about love and sexuality. If you are unsure, get help, for example from the parents’ helpline of the Nummer gegen Kummer. We present further digital advice services for young people and parents in this article.

    Accompany your child in their first steps on the Internet and explain to them that content can be encountered that is unpleasant. If certain pages appear unintentionally, your child should be able to talk to you about it. Younger children in particular must not be left alone with such experiences. They cannot properly categorize what they see because it has nothing to do with their own range of experience.

    Please note the following points:

    • If your child is younger, give them access to age-appropriate content and let them surf the Internet using children’s search engines. This will reduce the likelihood that your child will come across content that is inappropriate for their age.
    • Use parental control programs and filter options on your browser, smartphone or tablet so that content harmful to minors is not displayed in the first place.
    • However, such technical settings can only ever provide support, as they do not offer one hundred percent protection against such content. It is much more important that your child knows that there is also such content on the net and knows ways to deal with it.
    • However, as children get older and enter puberty, they also need their space and don’t necessarily want to talk to their parents about the changes in their bodies. Older siblings can be good conversation partners. There are also sex education sites for young people online, such as Loveline or Liebesleben.
    • If you overhear your son or daughter watching porn, talk to him or her about it, but don’t judge your child. Make it clear to him that pornography is not realistic, but that someone has made up the “stories”, the bodies are professionally portrayed and the pleasure is staged. Talk to your child about ideals of beauty and role models.
    • Mere bans and filtering measures will not help, especially with young people. They find their ways to watch porn. If anything, bans have an even more appealing effect. Therefore, an open approach to the topic of sex is more effective.
    • Explain to your child what is and is not allowed when it comes to pornography. Show your child how to report prohibited content online, for example via a complaints office.

    Klicksafe is providing detailed information on this topic as part of Safer Internet Day 2024. Click here for the information sheet for parents: https://www.klicksafe.de/materialien/voll-porno-wie-spreche-ich-mit-meinem-kind-ueber-pornografische-inhalte-im-netz

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