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FLIMMO – the parents’ guide to TV, streaming, YouTube and cinema

“But I want to watch TV longer, just a little bit more!” – this child substitute should be familiar to most parents. Television – whether via traditional offerings or streaming – is a popular topic of contention in families and often leads to discussions. Reconciling the children’s wishes with the adults’ ideas is not always easy. How long can I let my child watch TV without a guilty conscience? How do I select suitable shipments? What devices and channels do people watch on? FLIMMO – the parents’ guide to TV, streaming, YouTube and cinema – was created precisely to answer such questions.

In brief

  • Parents’ guide to child-friendly moving image content
  • Pedagogical recommendations by age
  • Films, series and shows from media libraries, streaming services, YouTube and TV channels as well as social media channels
  • accessible free of charge via the website

FLIMMO – popular children’s television at a glance

On the flimmo.de website, you as a parent can quickly find out whether a particular series or program is suitable for your child. You will also find out what is currently on TV and whether there is something suitable for your child. Children not only use traditional TV programming, but also watch on streaming platforms, YouTube or in media libraries. They use social media services such as TikTok and Instagram, even though they are only allowed to use them from the age of 13. The FLIMMO experts try to check all interesting offers for children. The focus is on the perspective of young media users: What do they like about films, series, shows or channels? What causes them problems? What do they like to watch and why? How do they deal with media experiences and how do they process them?

The assessments point out problematic issues or warn of possible excessive demands. In the same way, it is made clear what interests, fascinates or amuses children at the respective age. Educational assessments make it clear what children like about a movie or series, what can be problematic and what parents should pay particular attention to. FLIMMO also addresses questions relating to media education in the family: How much media time is appropriate? What rules help and how do you get siblings under one roof? What is important when dealing with YouTube? The guidebook helps parents meet the challenges of everyday media life with brief information and practical tips.

The rating system

FLIMMO reviews films, series, documentaries, movies and social media channels that children between the ages of 3 and 13 like to watch – or want to watch. A traffic light shows at a glance whether a movie, series or YouTube channel is suitable for children or not. And if so, from what age:

Green: This content is suitable from the respective age and is well received by children. You will find entertaining, exciting, funny and educational.

Yellow: There are problematic aspects from a pedagogical point of view. These can be questionable role models or heroines who rely exclusively on violence. Parents should keep an eye on how children deal with this and take countermeasures if necessary.

Red: There are elements that can overwhelm, unsettle or frighten children. Regardless of age, such content is not suitable for children.

Who is behind FLIMMO?

FLIMMO is a project of the non-profit association Programmberatung für Eltern e. V. It is scientifically and pedagogically based. Experienced media educators from the JFF – Institute for Media Education take care of the content and evaluations. FLIMMO also regularly surveys 3- to 13-year-olds about their preferences.

How to use FLIMMO in the family

Even though the offer is primarily aimed at you as a parent, it can be exciting to click through the website’s content together with your child. FLIMMO ‘s simple and clear rating system is well suited for finding suitable content. If your child tells you about an interesting series or YouTube channel, you can look up what FLIMMO has to say about it together.

In addition to assessments of channels, www.flimmo.de/socialmedia also provides information about social media and what parents should look out for if they allow its use.

Search engines for children and teenagers

“How far is it to the moon?”, “Did dinosaurs have milk teeth?”, “Why do we celebrate Halloween?” – Children and young people are naturally curious and have lots of questions. They also surf the Internet in search of answers. But watch out: Google and other search engines were not developed primarily for children. Without filtering, children can quickly end up on pages with inappropriate content. That’s why there are children’s search engines.

Children’s search engines – what is it?

Children’s search engines are easy to use and use child-friendly language and images. They only link to content that is safe and interesting for children. All websites are checked and approved in advance by media educators. This enables safe surfing on the net.

In addition to the search function, many children’s search engines also offer educational videos, games and articles on various topics. They often offer tips on how children can best use search engines. For example, there are tips on specific search terms, searching for images or checking sources. In this way, children acquire important skills and develop their media literacy. Older children can be introduced to adult search engines after this practice period.

What are the search engines?

  • For children aged 6 to 12, the ad-free search engine fragFINN . The service has a playful structure, is data-secure and is also available as a child protection app.
  • Bright minds is aimed at children and young people aged 8 to 16. These websites contain child-friendly articles and links to safe online games and videos.
  • For older children, common search engines such as Google Ecosia, Yahoo and Bing are relevant. Certain filters can be activated there. They prevent inappropriate content (e.g. violence or sexual content) from being displayed in the search results. These filters are called Google , Bing and Yahoo “SafeSearch. With some search engines, an account can be created with which filters can be activated permanently and password-protected. You can read more about this in our article “Secure search on the Internet”.

What should parents pay attention to?

Children’s search engines are designed so that children can use them independently and have the most positive surfing experience possible during their first steps on the Internet. Accompany your child during the first use and explore the search engine together. This way you can explain important functions for the search in more detail. After the first joint testing, children can use the respective children’s search engine independently without hesitation. For this purpose, it is recommended to set up a child search engine for the default search in the browser. In addition, a child search engine can be set up as the start page.

If your child already knows how to use search engines and wants to use search engines such as Google , activate the “SafeSearch” filter for more security. Please note that despite filters, the search is never as secure as the review of content by media educators and that filters can be activated and deactivated independently under certain circumstances. Agree with your child on how to respond when he or she encounters inappropriate content. You can report inappropriate content that is displayed despite filter settings to the respective search engines.

Can’t find an answer to your question? Our messenger service directly on your smartphone

In order to provide you as parents with the best possible support for your child’s media education, we offer you the opportunity to ask your personal questions about your child’s media use directly and conveniently via WhatsApp or Threema to ask us.

Our professional team is at your side to offer you the right support. Whether you are unsure whether a certain app is suitable for your child, you are looking for tips on limiting screen time or you would like support in dealing with a new trend – we are here for you.

Our messenger service is easy to access:

  • WhatsApp: Add our number +49 176 / 550 506 99 to your contacts and send us your questions directly via the app.
  • Threema: For more secure communication, you can reach us there at +49 176 / 550 506 99 with the ID FSSABPY8.

Please note our conditions of participation.

Why should you use our messenger service?

Individual advice: We understand that every family is unique. Our team of experts will give you personalized tips tailored to your questions about media education.

Support in challenging situations: Be it dealing with cyberbullying, inappropriate content or the right time to introduce new media. Our team specializes in supporting you even in difficult situations.

Note: In acute problem situations or emergencies, please contact specialized experts directly, e.g. the Nummer gegen Kummer (www.nummergegenkummer.de) or the Telefonseelsorge (365 days a year, available around the clock: www.telefonseelsorge.de).

Direct access to experts: Our team keeps up to date with the latest developments – in a way that is probably not possible for you as a parent in the constantly evolving media world. You can easily reach us via Messenger.

Quick answers: Send us your question and we will answer you as quickly as possible with helpful information and tips. You will receive answers from the editorial team during normal business hours, i.e. not at weekends, on public holidays or at night.

Confidentiality: Your privacy is important to us. All your messages will be treated confidentially.

Free advice: Like all our services, our Messenger service is free of charge.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has long since found its way into our everyday lives. Where flying cars and robots were once seen as symbols of AI, the reality today is more diverse, but no less fascinating. We take a look at where we already encounter artificial intelligence in everyday life and what significance this has for media education.

Artificial intelligence – what is it anyway?

Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, is a very broad term that describes machines or computer systems that can imitate human intelligence. To do this, they are fed information until they can apply it independently to solve tasks. This also means that they can learn from mistakes and thus constantly improve. For example, if a computer is fed a very large number of photos of human faces, at some point it will be able to tell for sure whether or not a photo has a human face in it. In this case, it is a so-called “weak AI” because it is intelligent only in relation to a specific subject. Research is also being conducted on a “strong AI” that could have the intellectual capabilities of a human, e.g., think logically or plan ahead. However, the strong AI does not yet exist. And if it should exist one day – it will probably not have feelings and thus will be fundamentally different from us humans.

AI in everyday family life

The areas of application for AI in family life are diverse. Facial recognition technologies unlock smartphones, voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri fulfill our commands and streaming services such as Netflix suggest films that match our preferences. Algorithms also play a role in this. Toys(smart toys) can also actively interact with children with the help of AI. For example, an intelligent cuddly toy can search for a child’s questions on the Internet and read out the answers. Chatbots such as ChatGPT can provide support with school tasks.

AI risks

Artificial intelligence can make our lives easier in many situations. But there are also risks associated with the use of AI. For example, so-called deep fakes can be used to create deceptively real images or videos that support the spread of fake news. If AI is used at home, for example via a voice assistant or smart toys, it is also important to look at the manufacturer’s data protection measures and use existing security settings. If the data is not stored on the device itself, but in a cloud, there is a risk that third parties can access and misuse the data. There are also many legal questions for which there is no conclusive solution at the present time: For example, who should be liable in the future if a decision made by an AI causes damage? This is one reason why the use of self-driving cars, for example, is not yet readily possible.

Understanding AI through play

In order to promote a better understanding of AI, it is important that children and young people are familiarized with the concept at an early age. It is important that they understand what AI is and how it works. Younger children often find it difficult at first to distinguish between an object activated by AI and a real living being. Age-appropriate explanatory videos and articles are suitable for teaching children and young people about artificial intelligence. There are also games in which you can train an AI yourself and thus learn to understand how it works in a playful way.

We have put together a few offers for you:

What parents should pay attention

Open communication: Talk openly with your child about AI and explain how it is used in their everyday life. Encourage them to ask questions and take time to discuss any concerns.

Critical media literacy: Help your child develop a critical attitude towards the information they find online. Show them how to recognize false information and encourage them to check sources.

Data protection: Discuss the importance of data protection with your child and encourage them to handle personal data responsibly. Explain what information can and cannot be shared safely.

Self-determination: Encourage your child to decide for themselves which technologies they want to use. Help them to set their own boundaries and feel comfortable saying no when they feel uncomfortable.

Joint activities: Take the opportunity to play games or do activities together with your child that provide a better understanding of AI. Discuss how AI-based technologies work and let your child gain their own experience.

The first own e-mail address – tips for a secure e-mail traffic

E-mails are commonplace for adults and many children and young people already use them regularly. A personal e-mail address is often required to log in to game sites and learning platforms, for example. Especially during the coronavirus lockdown, schools have increasingly sent information and tasks by email. We have a few tips for safe e-mailing for your child.

Unsolicited emails and dangers

Most e-mail providers are not specifically aimed at children and young people. Their inboxes are often equipped with many functions that are difficult for younger users to understand. There are also dangers such as spam, phishing and chain letters that children and young people need to be familiarized with.

Spam refers to unsolicited e-mails that contain advertising. They are sent by people or algorithms automatically and without prompting. The same applies to phishing emails that aim to defraud the recipient, for example through fake competitions or false invoices. Some of these emails also contain malicious links or files that can infect your computer.

Some of the unsolicited e-mails also contain content that is not suitable for children, such as pornography. This may be due to the fact that the e-mail address was used for chats or games when registering. Such services protect the personal data of their users to varying degrees, allowing strangers to contact children without their consent. This can be particularly overwhelming for children and young people who may not yet have developed strategies to deal with such risks.

Tips for parents

Before you set up an e-mail address for your child, you should think together about what it will be used for. Children under the age of 13 are not yet allowed to use many services (according to the General Terms and Conditions and Data Protection Act). Many schools offer their own e-mail addresses for school purposes, which must meet certain security standards. Explain to your child that such an address may only be used for school purposes. Among other things, such e-mail addresses (e.g. lena.meier@schule-am-hasengraben.de) can reveal specific information about your child. This can be risky if the address falls into the wrong hands.

Even with “private” email addresses, for example for social media, it is important that your child uses an imaginary name and that the email address cannot be traced back to them. Make it clear to your child that the e-mail address should not be passed on carelessly. It is best to use a secure e-mail provider.

Also explain to your child what spam is and how to deal with it. In many programs, spam messages can be marked so that they are automatically sorted out. If the sender of an e-mail is unknown, you and your child should be careful. It is best to delete such messages immediately and do not click on links or file attachments.

If your child is old enough to log on to social media or other services, do it together. Make sure that the e-mail address is not displayed publicly. Switch off information e-mails from the provider. Otherwise, the mailbox can quickly become overcrowded and it will be difficult for your child to distinguish between spam and important messages.

E-mail programs for children

Especially for younger children it is recommended to use a suitable e-mail program. Mail providers especially for children have only the most important functions and guarantee certain protective measures:

  • With Mail4Kidz and Kidsmail24, young users only receive emails from people who are already listed in their own so-called friend book.
  • With ZUM-Grundschulpost, parents or guardians even receive messages from strangers and can then decide whether they are trustworthy.

The child-friendly programs all have spam and virus protection. This will prevent your child from receiving unwanted advertising or chain letters in the first place. However, ZUM ‘s internal search is linked to Google, which is why adult search results may also appear.

Some of the programs are free of charge(Mail4Kidz for the first six months) and are particularly suitable for children under the age of 15. Kidsmail24 users have the option of switching to an unrestricted account once they reach the age of 14. Despite child-friendly programs, your child is never protected from all risks on the net. As a parent, you should therefore talk to your child regularly about their contacts on the Internet and give your child the security of knowing that they can turn to you if they have any problems.

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. A special overview page has been put together for the 2024 European elections, including the Wahl-O-Mat.

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.

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.

Instagram

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

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In a nutshell:

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

What is Instagram?

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

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

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

What particularly fascinates children and young people about Instagram?

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

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

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

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

What is problematic about the offer?

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

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

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

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

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

What does the provider think?

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

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

What should parents pay attention to?

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

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

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

Age-appropriate media for my child

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

Age-appropriate media – what does that mean?

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

Verified media content

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

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

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

Suitable media offerings and guidance for parents

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

Here you can find good media offers and information:

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

Tips for your own evaluation of offers

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

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

Individual support and communication

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

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

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

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

Simple and hardcore pornography – what is it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can I protect my child?

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

Self-harm among young people – Eating disorders online

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

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

Supposed help in internet forums

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

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

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

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

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

How you as a parent can protect your child from this

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

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

The streaming service Cliq – one service for everything?

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

In short

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

What is behind the offer?

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

What fascinates children and young people about it?

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

What can be problematic?

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

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

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

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

What does the provider think?

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

This is what parents should pay attention to

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

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

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

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Use Instagram safely

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

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

Why were innovations necessary?

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

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

What has already been adapted?

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

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

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

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

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

What should you know about the new settings?

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

What do parents need to keep in mind?

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

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

Threads – the new text-based app from Instagram

Instagram recently introduced Threads, a new text-based app designed to facilitate private communication between close friends. With this app, users can share photos, videos, messages and stories with a selected group of people. We explain what’s behind Instagram ‘s new text-based app.

In short

  • Free messaging app for iOS and Android
  • Connection with your own Instagram account
  • Photos, stories, and direct messages are shared only with selected people
  • Minimum age according to terms and conditions 13 years, in the app stores from 12 years
  • Available in Germany since December 2023

What is behind the offer?

Threads was developed to fulfill the need for private and personalized communication with close friends. The functions of Threads have similarities with the platform X Among other things, users can seamlessly share photos, videos and messages with selected contacts as well as real-time updates that show their own activity or mood. Meta’s free messaging app aims to increase the feeling of connection between friends and fulfill the social needs and preferences of young people in today’s digital age.

What fascinates young people about it?

The functions of threads correspond to young people’s need for self-expression and social contacts. It allows users to control who can see their content and offers a more intimate space for interaction. This makes it possible, for example, to check the news without being distracted by the latest pictures and stories from all subscribed Instagram profiles. Instagram is also used by many adults and all kinds of stars and companies. This means that young people are not really ‘among themselves’ – with threads they are.

What can be problematic?

Similar to other social networks, there are also potential risks with threads. As all users can publish content there, young people can come across content that is not can be age-appropriate or even problematic, such as harmful content, hate speech, disinformation and manipulative content for political opinion making, war videos and propaganda or conspiracy myths and fake videos. Even if the content violates thread guidelines, it may be visible on the platform until it is discovered and deleted. Communication risks ranging from cyberbullying to cybergrooming can also be addressed.

What does the provider think?

Instagram offers various tools and settings to protect children and young people who use threads. This includes data protection controls, reporting functions and advice on safe online behavior. In addition, the platform regularly updates its privacy and security features to address new concerns.

This is what parents should pay attention to

An Instagram account is required to use Threads to its full extent. It is not possible to create only a Threads account. Your child will therefore probably use both platforms. Go through the settings together with your child and determine which data the app is allowed to access.

When registering for the first time, the profile is automatically set to “private” on threads for people under the age of 18. However, this default setting is very easy to bypass by clicking on “public”. Then all thread users can follow your child, repost their content, send private messages, etc. This increases the risk of unwanted contacts enormously.

As a parent, you can link your Instagram account to your child’s account. Parental supervision extends to your child’s activity on both Instagram and Threads. For example, you can view followers, accounts that are followed or privacy settings.

Try to understand why it is important for your child to share a status or certain personal information. Talk about privacy and communication risks online. Accompany your child in an age-appropriate manner and keep asking about your child’s online experiences. It is important to talk openly about this so that your child knows that they can confide in you if they experience harassment, disturbing content, cyberbullying or cybergrooming.

Use the option to delete or report content. Accounts that you no longer wish to interact with can also be blocked.

The app only offers added value if it is really only used to communicate with good friends. Your child should only include people in the list of “close friends” that they actually know. Set rules together about what content your child should and should not share. Please refer to our legal information for social media use.

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.

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