Digital games have become an integral part of the everyday lives of children and young people. In order to play these games, they often have to be purchased or, in the case of free games, at least downloaded. A now rather rare way to buy games is to go to a store and buy a physical data carrier there. This also eliminates the age check carried out by a sales clerk on site. In order to protect your child, we would like to give you an overview of where children and young people can buy games and where you as a parent can find information on setting options.
On the computer, the possibilities for obtaining games are almost unlimited. In the meantime, many publishers have created their own launcher (a program used to launch games) with their own store. A user account must be created there and it is often also possible to deposit a means of payment. A well-known game that is popular with children and runs via its own launcher is Minecraft . In addition to the “own” launchers, there are also large companies that specialize in the digital sale of computer games such as Steam Epic Games Store and GOG. You can find an overview of the technical measures for distribution platforms in the USK guide. The website medien-kindersicher also informs parents about technical protection settings for various devices, services and apps.
For consoles such as Xbox, Nintendo Switch or PlayStation it is often easier to see through how children and young people get hold of games. You can either buy them in the store or in the online store of the respective console. To do this, either payment information must be stored or POSA cards, which are subject to a charge, are used. In the console’s account settings, you can often create children’s accounts, set age restrictions for content or set the screen time. We explain some of the setting options in the article Endless play – technical settings.
Smartphone gaming in particular has become increasingly important for children and young people in recent years. This has a lot to do with the technical development of mobile devices: unlike a few years ago, cell phones are now powerful enough to play games on them. As cell phones are very common among children aged 9 and over, they are naturally also used for playing games. The games are distributed via the app stores and downloaded there. You cannot buy a data carrier in a store. The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK ) has been awarding age ratings for online games and apps within the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC ) for many years. This makes it possible to block certain content. Make the necessary settings in the app stores and, if necessary, create a separate children’s account that you manage as an adult. You can find detailed information on this in the articles on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
“With Pokémon Sleep, you can turn your sleep into entertainment!”. This is how the Pokémon Company advertises its new game – with success. The Google Play Store has recorded more than 5 million app downloads since its release in July 2023. The catch: the app accompanies children and young people to bed and collects sensitive health data in the process.
Pokémon Sleep is an app that embeds human sleep in a gaming experience. Players have to help Professor Neroli with sleep research on an adventure island and work together with the Pokémon Relaxo. The app records noises and movements during the night and uses the data collected to create a sleep log. The longer users sleep, the higher their score the next morning and the more new Pokémon appear around Relaxo. Sleep is divided into three types: Semi-sleep, light sleep or deep sleep. In the morning, Pokémon appear that sleep in a similar way. During the day, players can explore sleeping poses, feed the Pokémon and carry out other game activities. The aim is to record as much sleep as possible and thus collect many different Pokémon and poses. The app is also compatible with Pokémon GO Plus, which is the gadget for the game Pokémon GO.
Whether as playing cards, a TV series or a video game – many children and young people grow up with Pokémon and love the little monsters. Pokémon is aimed at young people’s passion for collecting. With Pokémon Sleep, players can get new Pokémons and take care of them without much effort. Getting information about sleep behavior appeals to young people’s love of discovery. Tasks from the friendly Professor Neroli and rewards such as bonus cookies make children and young people want to spend time in the game world with the Pokémons.
Consumer protection warns that Pokémon Sleep monitors the sleeping behavior of children and young people and that the game concept can encourage addictive behavior:
In this test, the data protection website mobilsicher.de proved that the app sends data to advertisers. The audio recordings are saved locally and deleted after 24 hours. However, users’ sleep profiles are stored on company servers. The Pokémon Company states that it does not sell sensitive data of minors for advertising purposes. It is not possible for minors to link their accounts with those of friends. The provider advises you to switch off the audio recording function to save data.
Protect your child’s privacy online and avoid data-hungry apps such as Pokémon Sleep. Younger children in particular can be very absorbed by this game directly before and after sleep, but also during the day. Children are not yet able to assess the implications of sleep monitoring in connection with digital currency.
If your child is older and really wants to use the app, please note the following information:
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.
“Just a little more, I’m almost done.”, “But if I do this now don’t do it, then it’s all gone!” – Are you familiar with statements like this from your game-loving child? It’s not just colorful game worlds and entertaining game mechanics that fascinate players. Some video games have opaque profit motives with which games companies want to make money. Or there are game mechanics that can tempt players to play for far too long. We will introduce you to the most important mechanisms in this regard and show you setting options for devices and platforms to support your child in conscious gaming.
How are gamers kept in the game? Developer studios have come up with various methods to achieve this:
With such mechanics, game developers reinforce the “FOMO” effect (which stands for “fear of missing out”) and bind younger and less experienced players in particular to the game.
The independent test committees of the USK assess the extent to which these mechanics are present in the game and how they influence the gaming experience. The age rating depends on the implementation and the technical safety settings in the game. If these mechanics have a significant influence on the age rating, they are indicated as additional information in the license plate. This includes additional information such as “Pressure to play a lot” or “Increased purchase incentives”.
Playing is a popular pastime for children and young people. To ensure that your child learns how to handle games well and responsibly, set rules together with your child and set clear boundaries. In consultation with your child, use the parental options and parental control settings on gaming platforms and devices, which can be used to limit the playing time, for example.
We have collected the most common platforms and their settings for you here:
App permissions can also be managed for both operating systems. For example, you can switch off push notifications for game apps so that your child does not automatically receive reminders to continue playing.
In addition, many games also have child safety features. For example, in the popular online shooter Fortnite. You can find detailed instructions on devices, apps and programs on the medien-kindersicher platform.
As a general rule, parental control settings cannot protect against all dangers and risks. Only use such settings in consultation with your child and adapt them to their age and stage of development. Talk to your child about the tricks of the game industry, such as login rewards, and encourage them to use games consciously.
In the digital world, children and young people are confronted with a variety of challenges. helpando is a trustworthy point of contact that provides support in difficult situations and informs children about their rights. This article introduces the digital help platform for children and young people.
helpando is a project of the KinderRechteForum (KRF). This non-profit organization has been campaigning for the realization of children’s rights for years. The helpando platform helps children and young people with any problem. The help team also intervenes when children’s rights are violated and informs children and young people about their rights in an understandable, child-friendly and empathetic way.
This uncomplicated help is available directly on the website or via WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook or Instagram Messenger. Phone calls and e-mails are also possible. The consultation is strictly confidential and free of charge.
Children and young people can also publish their case anonymously – and show others that they are not alone with their problem. The platform thus promotes the well-being and rights of children and young people.
helpando also helps to improve the situation of children and young people in a concrete and local way. Does your town need a new playground? Is there a lack of leisure facilities for young people? The school is still not barrier-free? The help platform can be used to post campaigns and draw attention to petitions. The helpando team provides support and contacts local authorities, for example.
The help platform also provides information about children’s rights and child-friendly events.
Take on a supportive and informed role and respect your child’s trust and autonomy. Help your child to seek support in difficult situations and show them digital help platforms such as helpando or similar services. Assist with making contact or seeking support if required.
Open and regular communication is crucial. Allow your child to express themselves freely and share worries, problems or concerns. This creates trust and makes it possible to react to potential challenges at an early stage.
Be aware that the online world is often a complex environment for children and young people. Respond sensitively and understandingly to your child’s challenges and problems.
The smell of cookies, shopping stress, shining children’s eyes: the holidays are approaching and digital devices and games are on the wish lists of many children and young people. What should parents consider before and after giving a gift? Between the years and during the vacations, there is also time for shared family media experiences. How can this be designed in a safe, age-appropriate and even creative way?
We have come up with something special for the pre-Christmas virtual parents’ evening at Elternguide.online: Various experts have put together their best suggestions and tips. Look forward to input on creative children’s websites, streaming, games, safe smartphones, fun family media challenges and much more! fragFINN, the Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia-Diensteanbieter (FSM), the JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik in Forschung und Praxis, klicksafe and the Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) are all involved!
Join us live and ask your questions – we will provide answers and be available for discussions!
Date: 04.12.2023 | Time: 5 to 6 pm
Melanie Endler (fragFINN)
Jo Schuler and Lidia de Reese (FSM e.V.)
Sophia Mellitzer (JFF)
Martin Bregenzer (klicksafe)
Maurice Matthieu (USK)
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.
The event will be held in German.
The Internet, especially social networks, floods us daily with countless news, messages and stories. In the process, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between truth and deception. Teaching children how to recognize false information on the Internet is a real challenge. This article offers practical advice on how to deal with disinformation and false news on the Internet and how to talk to your child about it.
The many news items, reports and stories that we encounter every day usually come from television programs, daily newspapers, people in our environment or well-known personalities. Many are spread by lesser-known people on the Internet and through messenger services like WhatsApp. However, the senders also include websites and people who intentionally spread lies or half-truths in order to cause confusion. They deliberately spread disinformation, rumors, or even hateful messages designed to stir up insecurity and deliberately deceive us.
It is not only difficult for children and young people to distinguish trustworthy news from fake news. Because often these fake news are so skillfully made that at first glance they look like serious news . This can be problematic, especially when it comes to political contributions with an extremist or populist background or when conspiracy theories are spread. Content that can unsettle or frighten younger children in particular is also problematic. Deep fake videos in particular look deceptively real. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize the differences between disinformation, false news and satire.
Disinformation spreads especially when people are insecure anyway and even experts or politicians do not have answers to all questions – such as during the Corona crisis and the Ukraine war. Fake news often provides the answers you want and can help deal with uncertainty. Unfortunately, they are not true. Questions like “Are the vaccines safe, too?” or “Where does the virus come from?” are answered with inappropriate numbers and false facts. The problem with this is that the more often such articles are clicked on, the more often they are displayed – and people believe them to be true. That’s why it’s important to realize that not everything you read is necessarily true.
Determining whether it is indeed a hoax can be a tricky task. Therefore, it is helpful to follow clear steps to curb the spread of disinformation:
Check where the message came from and who wrote it. Is the author known and expert on the subject? Is it a reputable website?
Try to verify the message with different sources. Ask yourself how up-to-date the information is and check where the figures and data mentioned come from as well as the context in which they were collected.
Pay attention to the way the message is presented. Is the language serious and factual, or is emotional language and excessive capitalization used? Does the article contain catchwords such as “lying press” or similar provocative terms? Could the article be meant satirically?
Make sure photos and videos match the message and are up-to-date. Pay attention to captions and whether they actually represent what is being described or are from another context.
Discuss news and messages together as a family. Your child should understand that not everything on the Internet or sent via WhatsApp does not have to be true. If you check messages together, it can gradually learn to distinguish true from false. Ask for your child’s opinion and share your own thoughts. This will help you and your child be more confident and prepared to recognize and counter disinformation and fake news on the Internet.
Fake news spreads especially when many people forward or share it. Therefore, you should always consider whether a message can really be true. Here are some tips on where to check Fake News and how you and your child can learn to deal with it in a fun way:
FIFA is the most famous and popular series of soccer video games. A new version has been published annually since 1993. Teams from real soccer leagues can be used or your own can be created. The successor to FIFA23 is called EA Sports FC 24 and is only released for ages twelve and up.
EA Sports FC (formerly: FIFA) is one of the most popular games among teenagers. This takes advantage of the popularity of well-known teams and soccer stars. Young people can take on the role of their favorite player and compete against other teams alone or with others in cross-platform online mode.
EA Sports FC is especially interesting for youngsters who are passionate about soccer anyway and can experience their favorite sport in yet another way. The game establishes a connection with the real teams and players who are idols for many soccer fans. Since FIFA 23, some women’s soccer leagues are also represented in the game.
Playing together with others and the competitive principle offer a special fun. Exciting are the clear rules that are adopted from the soccer field and must be implemented in the game environment: A foul is also a foul in the game. Various game modes, such as the manager mode, offer the possibility to shape the virtual soccer world beyond the game on the pitch. Here, for example, birthday parties or social media posts can be used to promote careers.
The most popular mode in the game is Ultimate Team. The attraction is that you can put together your own team of favorite players according to the trading card principle and compete with gamers from the worldwide community. The app allows young people to hone their skills on their favorite team away from the game via smartphone or PC. With EA Sports FC 24, women’s soccer players are now a part of the game mode. Women and men can also be set up together in a team.
Just as in a soccer game on the sports field or in the stadium, conflicts can also arise in computer games – for example, arguments or insults in multiplayer or online mode.
The criticism that a lot of money is at stake in professional soccer and that the sport is losing its importance is ignored at EA Sports FC. The idols and favorite teams are portrayed positively throughout and are role models. The commercialization of soccer is also evident in the online mode: With the necessary money, you can put together your dream team in the Ultimate Team game mode.
As an alternative for game rewards (e.g. for completed online tournaments), in-game currency can be purchased for real money, which can be invested directly in the game in new players, virtual goods or random-based player packages (so-called loot boxes). Lootboxes are controversial because their principle is reminiscent of games of chance: sometimes the players received in them are better, sometimes worse. This can tempt inexperienced gamers in particular to spend a lot of money in-game.
In terms of content, the game does not contain any aspects relevant to the protection of minors and has therefore been released by the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) without age restriction to date. Due to the amendment of the German Youth Protection Act (JuSchG), the USK’s review criteria were adjusted at the beginning of 2023. Since then, the German age rating system has taken into account both content relevant to the protection of minors and so-called potential usage risks. This means: Previously, the USK’s review panels could not consider any chat options, in-game purchases or lootboxes. Since the beginning of 2023 this is different – hence now the age rating from 12 years.
Furthermore, the reasons for an age rating have been transparently indicated by additional notes since this year. These can be found on the back of the games’ packaging and in online stores right next to the age label. The higher age rating for EA Sports FC 24 was justified by the cues “pressure to act” and “in-game purchases + random objects”.
EA Sports focuses on the sporting and playful character of the game. The provider sees the game as a social platform where young people can share their passion for soccer and build friendships. EA Sports earns considerable sums with microtransactions such as lootboxes. The manufacturer refers to them as “virtual surprise eggs” and sees no need for change.
Parents should realize that for kids and teens, EA Sports FC is all about having fun together. Play once together with your child and try to understand the fascination. This connects and at the same time provides an opportunity to exchange ideas about the critical aspects of soccer.
Check the age rating of the game. Note that the previous FIFA versions were still tested according to the old USK criteria and were therefore released without age restrictions, although they also contained chat options, in-game purchases or lootboxes. For younger children, the game may not be unproblematic.
As parents, you should be especially attentive when it comes to in-game purchases. Together with your child, consider whether these are necessary and – if desired – set an upper limit. Talk to your child about the dangers of gambling mechanisms. The popular game consoles also offer detailed protection settings in which purchases within a game can be prohibited.
Set a good example for your children by controlling your own playtime and making it appropriate. This can help promote healthy habits.
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.
Terrible rocket attacks, traumatized war victims, families on the run – images of violence and destruction from the war in the Middle East and Ukraine dominate the news. On Elternguide.online you will find the following information on dealing with the topic of war in the media:
The current time is characterized by crises, new conflicts and wars are flaring up again and again. On the smartphone, in conversations in the playground or on TV – children also hear about these terrible events. Keeping children away from news altogether is neither possible nor advisable. Rather, take your child’s questions and concerns seriously and help him or her process stressful messages. In this article, we explain how to guide your child regarding news of war and where to find child-friendly information about war.
News programs for adults such as the Tagesschau are not suitable for children. The drastic images can trigger fears and the content is often difficult for children to understand. However, that doesn’t mean your child has to be kept away from news altogether. There are high-quality media offerings that enable children and young people to gain an overview of the current world situation. There, they receive comprehensible answers to their questions and safe, age-appropriate information on global crises. We present recommended websites, videos, audios and social media channels that are specifically tailored to the needs of young people in this article. For an extensive list of child-friendly news on the war in the Middle East as well as the war in Ukraine, visit Flimmo.
Social media users are getting unfiltered war content flushed into their timelines. Algorithms on Instagram, YouTube and the like mean that even children and young people are unintentionally exposed to content that they do not want to see or that is unsuitable for them. In addition, children and young people actively use social media offerings as a search engine and source of information. In addition to harrowing live reports from those affected in crisis areas, the posts also include disinformation, fake news and conspiracy myths. TikTok is particularly challenging in this regard. The endless feed of short videos encourages doomscrolling, and the platform is used particularly heavily for propaganda and influencing opinion. To learn how to help your child deal with war content on TikTok, check out this article.
Stay engaged with your child on current crisis issues, make appropriate news sources accessible to them, and don’t leave them alone with bad news. If your child is older, strengthen their information literacy skills and educate them about challenges with social media use like fake news. Be a role model by using news from verified sources yourself and use age-appropriate information services together with your child. Looking and empathizing is important. But if you notice that it’s getting too much for your child – consciously switch off and help your child avoid excessive digital stress.
The most popular messenger, even among children and teenagers, is WhatsApp. This is because communication is practical and easy, and many other people use it. Unfortunately, there are a few negative sides to the popular service.
WhatsApp is a free messenger. Registration requires a cell phone number and access to contacts’ phone numbers. After that, profile picture and profile name can be assigned.
The main function of WhatsApp is to send messages to people from your own contacts (address book) who also use the app. These can be text and voice messages, photos, videos, files, contacts as well as your own location. They can be sent to individuals or a whole group. Individual and group calls as well as video telephony are also possible. Among teenagers, sending emojis and GIFs is especially popular. They can also respond to individual messages with emojis. Self-deleting messages can be sent, which automatically disappear from the device after seven days. And there is the possibility to send photos and videos, which may be viewed only once and then disappear.
Via WhatsApp it is only possible to contact someone whose number you have. When receiving a message from an unknown number, the contact can be controlled using the “add” or “block” buttons. Calls from unknown numbers can be muted.
With the chat lock function, selected chats can be made virtually invisible. These then only appear in a certain category and are protected by a code, Face ID or fingerprint.
Young people like to use the app because it allows them to quickly get in touch with acquaintances and family members, since almost everyone uses WhatsApp. Teachers and classmates in class chats, grandparents as well as friends in other countries are just a click away. Users can exchange information with their contacts and see when they were last online. Via the profile picture and the so-called status they can share impressions from their life (similar to Instagram). Fast communication via voice messages is particularly popular among young people.
Especially the read receipt function (two blue check marks on a message) can put young people under pressure to always reply directly. Even though hundreds of messages are sometimes exchanged daily in a class chat, this can overwhelm and stress children and young people. In addition, fakenews is often spread via class chats. Pictures and messages are sent quickly. There is a risk that personal data, pictures and videos will be carelessly shared, redistributed or used for bullying. Also dubious sweepstakes, Chain letters or misleading notifications can be problematic – before all, even sexting.
Since there are hardly any privacy settings on WhatsApp, users have to be careful themselves about what content they send or post in their status. They should only be ones that everyone is allowed to read or see.
In addition, WhatsApp accesses a lot of information about the users, e.g., the entire contact list in the cell phone. This is how foreign contact data gets to WhatsApp and other people without being asked.
WhatsApp offers so-called “channels” under “News”. This is a type of group chat in which only the person who created it can write something. Channels are used by celebrities, influencers and companies to stay in touch with their target groups and fans. However, be careful: messages, images and videos that are not suitable for children and young people may also appear on channels.
WhatsApp, just like Instagram , belongs to the Meta group (formerly Facebook). The GTCs in force since 2021 inform that user data will also be passed on to companies for advertising purposes.
Certain security settings are supposed to improve the usage: People or phone numbers can be blocked; location tracking and read receipts can be deactivated. Users can limit the visibility of their own profile. Messages are exchanged in encrypted form, so they cannot be easily “hacked” by strangers. However, this only works in individual messages and when the backup – i.e. the data backup – is deactivated.
In early 2022, WhatsApp announced that group administrators will be able to delete messages from others. This function has not yet been implemented.
If your child is younger than 16, you must consent to their use of WhatsApp. Make sure your child uses Messenger responsibly. Explain to your child how they can protect their personal information. You should not share sensitive data or photos with unknown people
Help your child understand the privacy settings and configure them correctly… This can be done in the app itself or in the access rights management in the Android or iOS operating system (in each case under Settings). In the app, under the category “Privacy”, you can set who sees what and whether or not you want to be invited to groups by strangers. It may happen that certain functions can no longer be used if certain accesses are denied. The Privacy Check function gives a good overview of the settings. At www.medien-kindersicher.de there are Video instructions on how to safely set WhatsApp on your child’s smartphone.
Talk to your children about communication risks and how they can protect themselves from them. Encourage them to let you know right away if they feel they are not being treated right or are being bullied.
Encourage your child to only contact people they know in real life. Warn against adding unknown contacts. Also, be mindful of your child’s privacy and give your child the space he or she needs. Set a good example yourself by being responsible and respectful with your own digital activities.
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.
Whether it’s a podcast, book, magazine, series or movie – true crime and true crime cases are all the rage right now. The “true crime” genre is also exciting for young people. But where does the fascination come from and what should you pay attention to as a parent?
True Crime is not a fictional story, but a retelling of real criminal cases. The crimes described, often missing persons or homicide cases, are often unusual or have received special media attention because the legal decision was controversial. The fact that the cases actually happened makes them seem authentic in the eyes of the viewers. The criminal cases are told in very different ways: There are documentaries that portray the cases rather factually and close to reality. Other representations look like a movie – in them scenes are re-enacted or details are invented to make the stories even more interesting.
For users, the excitement lies above all in being “there” when a true crime is solved or explained. Real people did these things for specific reasons, and you want to know more about the motives for the act and the closer circumstances. In most cases, investigators or relatives of the victims also have their say and describe what happened from their perspective.
Telling exciting and, above all, real stories triggers thrills in many people. Putting themselves in the victim’s shoes, fathoming the motives of perpetrators, puzzling along and interpreting deeds – children and young people are attracted to reliving real criminal cases. Especially for young people, the study of the human psyche and personality development is interesting. Also attracting the penchant for the “forbidden” and unusual of these stories. When children reach puberty, they want to test their limits. This also includes watching or listening to things that are not actually suitable for their age because they can be stressful or frightening. While many older children and adolescents experience true-crime stories as entertaining and, for example, use “their” crime podcast during long train rides or while cleaning their rooms, younger children are often overwhelmed by the crime cases narrated.
The popularity of the genre means that there is an ever-increasing supply. Young people who particularly like the format may watch little other content. This can narrow their view of the world, which seems to be nothing but bleak and violent.
The depiction of real acts of violence can make children and young people afraid of becoming victims of crime themselves. Young people are particularly affected by scenes that they can identify with, such as violence against children or stories about relationships in families and partnerships. Younger people in particular often fail to recognize that a crime occurred many years ago or that a depiction is deliberately exaggerated to create suspense.
Not every series or podcast is equally carefully researched. Stories are circulating that may not have happened that way. In part, reality is distorted or simplified because it would be too costly and uninteresting to depict the real processes of a case with lengthy court hearings, interviews, etc.
Often, the perpetrator or the perpetrator is the focus of a true crime story. This can lead to viewers being fascinated by that person, which in turn can trivialize the acts themselves and diminish compassion for the victims.
The handling of gender roles within the genre should also be viewed critically. In many stories, the victims are female. Women are often portrayed as powerless and defenseless rather than empowered and strong.
Every story told touches children and young people differently. There are elements in true-crime stories that can overwhelm, unsettle, or frighten young people. Therefore, you should make sure that the true-crime show or podcast is also approved or recommended for your child’s age. Keep an eye on what your child is looking at and seek conversation.
Educate your child about the fact that not all true-crime formats are fact-based and how to verify their truthfulness – especially when it comes to trash TV shows. Ask what fascinates your child about True Crime. Whether the focus is on thrills, guesswork, or interest in investigative work: Don’t lose sight of the fact that this is True Crime, real crimes that have caused real suffering.
Read more: The project “True.Crime.Story” by Selbstkontrolle Fernsehen e. V. (FSF) and the JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik (Institute for Media Education) investigated how young people view true-crime formats. Videos with voices of the interviewed young people and a report can be found on the website of Medienradar.
There are children and teenagers who spend a lot of time on TikTok spend. They watch short videos from others or produce their own TikToks. What exactly they look at there and publish themselves, many parents do not know and worry – also about the fact that their child can come into contact with strangers .
In response to criticism, TikTok introduced the “accompanied mode” for parental control back in 2020, which was revised again in 2023. This allows you, as the parent or guardian, to control how long the app can be used, whether private messages can be sent and received, and what content is displayed on the “For You” page. Click here for a detailed presentation of the app.
It’s understandable that you, as a parent, are concerned when your child is on social media platforms. Therefore, before using such apps, you should calmly talk to your child about what they are interested in. Explain your concerns to him and make him understand what risks there are in using it. If you are okay with your child using TikTok, ask regularly and stay interested. Let them show you what your child is doing there.
Often children are already interested in the app beforehand. If your child wants to use TikTok, consider whether they might watch TikTok videos without their own account first. Because this is possible via a browser!
If your child is allowed to create a TikTok account with your permission and you choose to use the Accompanied Mode set it up as follows:
TikTok must be installed on your child’s smartphone and on your own device. You can find the Accompanied Mode in the “Digital Wellbeing” settings under “Privacy and Settings”. On the parent’s device, clicking on it opens a QR code that is scanned with your child’s smartphone. By doing so, your child agrees that you, as the parent, may control its use. IMPORTANT: Talk to your child beforehand about the functions in accompanied mode and consider together what should be switched on and to what extent:
TikTok would like to establish a “TikTok Youth Advisory Board” during 2023 to engage with the community itself on how to further develop the app.
Note that there are other setting options in TikTok outside of Accompanied Modethat should definitely be enabled. For example, make sure the account is set to private so that your child’s videos can’t be seen by strangers. For users between the ages of 13 and 15, TikTok makes this setting automatically – but you should definitely talk to your child about what the advantage is and why they should leave it that way or set it that way themselves from 16.
As a parent, you cannot track what content is being viewed. They also cannot read messages or comments, so your child’s privacy is preserved as much as possible. If you trust your child and he or she is already able to use media consciously and safely, it is certainly nicer to be able to do without this control option. Regularly discuss with your child whether the settings still fit as they are, or whether you can change certain settings.