Just as there are road traffic regulations that set out legal rules so that all pedestrians, motorists, cyclists and others can move as safely as possible in traffic, there are also laws for the media world. Children and young people are to be given special protection. This is what the so-called Youth Protection Act is for.
The reformed version of the Protection of Minors Act (in short: JuSchG) regulates, among other things, how media must be designed today so that children and young people are not exposed to any dangers when using them. Media providers must comply with this law, otherwise they face penalties. But that’s not so easy, because it’s a German law and the Internet knows no national borders. But if the providers of certain offerings are based in Germany, they have to follow these rules.
Providers will be required to have default settings that protect children and young people in particular from interaction risks such as bullying, sexualized speech (“cybergrooming”), hate speech, tracking, and cost traps.
More and more apps therefore already have improved parental control settings, e.g. TikTok and Instagram . But it is difficult to implement certain protective measures because it is technically complicated to reliably query the actual age of the user.
The new regulation of the law now also provides for reliable uniform age labels for games and films used online. In addition, the classification is no longer based solely on content, but also on potential interaction risks such as cybergrooming and cost traps.
Previously, the familiar age ratings such as USK and FSK applied only to games and films available on so-called carrier media (such as CD-ROMs or video cassettes). Online providers were not required to provide age information until now.
Children and young people should be able to easily seek help and complain if they feel threatened or harassed while using media.
The new Federal Agency for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Media is to ensure that these regulations are actually enforced. Institutions such as the Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia-Diensteanbieter e.V. (Voluntary Self-Regulation of Multimedia Service Providers ) have set up online complaints offices that young media users, as well as adults, can turn to in order to report illegal content or content that is harmful to minors.
The renewal of the Youth Protection Act was important in order to adapt legal regulations to the media reality of children and young people. The law can be an important guide for you as a parent and offers protection to a certain extent – as long as providers comply with the obligations set out there. Unfortunately, it cannot be ensured that this is always the case. In addition, a frame does not fit each child individually. That is why you should accompany your child very closely in his or her media use, especially in the younger years. The older it gets, the more free space your child needs. Still, stay in the conversation about his media use. This is the only way you can help if, despite protective measures, it has unpleasant experiences on the net or does not understand something.