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Games, Games, Games

Computer games are a topic in many families and often a cause for conflict. On Elternguide.online there are lots of articles where you can get suggestions for dealing with games in the family. A small selection:

Parents ask – we answer: What should I watch out for when my son plays video games?

Children and young people love to play games – including computer and online games. Media educator Fabian Wörz explains in a video what needs to be considered.

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“Just this one more round!” – Games in the family

Here you will find collected tips for dealing with computer games in your family. The article is available for reading and as an audio file.

“But mom, that game isn’t bad at all!” – Age restrictions for games

Which game is suitable for my child? In this article, you will learn the background of age restrictions and what else you should look for when choosing games.

When the circle of friends consists of avatars – communication in online games

Computer games are a very communicative activity because gamers often meet online to play. Of course, this also entails risks. You can read more about it in this article.

© photothek.net

My child wants a game console – now what?

When not playing via cell phone or computer, a game console comes into play. It’s at the top of many wish lists. Read our article on game consoles here.

Improve skills with online gaming

More and more people are becoming aware that computer games have many positive effects. You can read more about this in our article.

This is only a small selection of contributions to the topic. On our site you will also find descriptions of the most popular computer and mobile games among children and young people, such as Minecraft, Brawl Stars and Fortnite, explanations of gaming platforms such as Twitch and Steam, articles on dangers such as violence in games, extremist speeches on gaming forums or computer game addiction and much more.

Digital counseling services for young people and parents

Children and young people do not always turn to their parents with their problems. Problems at school, with peers or themselves, are rather discussed among friends. They look for answers, like-minded people on the Internet or keep it to themselves. But what happens when the problems become bigger and the people concerned can no longer find a way out? If you as a parent notice that your child is not doing well? The Internet is not always a good source of advice on problems, but there are definitely safe and helpful digital counseling services for young people and parents.

What are digital consulting services?

Online counseling services offer support for problems and concerns such as bullying, eating disorders, or depression. Some services are aimed specifically at children and young people. Those affected can seek help on their own and get advice on various topics anonymously and free of charge via a website or by telephone.

Individual counselling, group chats and forums

In addition to individual counselling, many of the counselling services on the net offer the possibility to discuss problems in a group or a forum. For individual counselling, those affected write their problems directly to psychologically trained counsellors. In such an exchange, young people receive immediate help and support. Depending on the problem and the need, this exchange can vary in length. Group offers usually take place in a rhythm, e.g. weekly. Regular participation is often helpful, but not absolutely necessary. Sometimes, like-minded people can be found in such chats who are also there for each other outside of the meetings. Within forums, affected persons exchange information with peers. Peers are people of the same age. They have been trained to help with problems in the chat. In addition, they always have the possibility of accessing the help of adult professionals. The exchange in the forums is also moderated to avoid insults, triggers or the disclosure of data.

Good counselling services on the internet

The counselling and support services differ in terms of which age group is addressed, which topics are the focus and how counselling can be accessed. Some services are also aimed at parents seeking help:

  • Telefonseelsorge advises children, young people and adults online or by telephone on various problems.
  • In addition to youth counselling, the Nummer gegen Kummer also offers a parents’ hotline. Parents can use this for problems such as excessive demands, worries or educational problems.
  • The trained counsellors of Jugendnotmail are available anonymously 365 days a year for young people up to the age of 19.
  • The counselling service jugend.bke-beratung supports young people aged 14 to 21. On the website, they can exchange their problems and worries in individual or group chats – from lovesickness and trouble at school to major problems
  • Auf jugend.support und juuuport bekommen Kinder und Jugendliche Hilfe bei Problemen im Netz wie z. B. Cybermobbing oder Cybergrooming
  • Among other things, Beratung4kids offers a separate section with forums for trans people, i.e. those who struggle with their gender identity.
  • At the Youth Life Line, young people up to 21 years of age can get counselling from their peers in acute crises and in cases of suicide risk.
  • The u25-deutschland website offers counselling, an information desk on topics such as eating disorders, suicide, depression
  • The Kid Kit service counsels young people up to the age of 18 in cases of addiction, violence or mental illness in the family. Nacoa counsels all age groups
  • At netz-und-boden.de there is support for children with mentally ill parents
  • On da-sein.de, peers support young people who are in mourning or who are themselves suffering from a life-shortening illness.
  • Peer-to-peer counselling is also available at nethelp4u. Young people advise young people on self-harming behaviour, suicidal thoughts, drug problems, depression and eating problems, among other things. The Hilfsangebot-Finder of the initiative Freunde fürs Leben (Friends for Life) helps to find the right counselling offer. You can filter whether you would like to receive counselling by phone, online or on site.
  • Pausentaste ist ein Angebot für Kinder und Jugendliche, die sich um ihre Familien kümmern
  • Pausentaste is an offer for children and young people who care for their families
  • In any crisis, Krisenchat offers chat counselling by professionals for anyone under the age of 25

Digital guidance services have limits 

Help offers on the net can be accepted easily and free of charge. They are more accessible to young people than, for example, counselling centres. The counsellors are trained and those affected remain anonymous. Making contact can be a first and right step. Especially in case of problems at school, at home or with oneself, it can help to exchange ideas with peers or to get the advice of an objective person. However, online counselling is no substitute for therapy! In case of suicidal thoughts or mental disorders, it is imperative to seek the advice of another therapeutic professional and to seek ongoing therapy. Other professionals should also be sought for legal or medical issues.

What should parents pay attention to

Tell your child that these services exist. Explain that compared to groups in open forums or on social media, they are safer because trained staff are behind them. Also beware of so-called psycho apps. These are not always helpful and can even be dangerous. Show your child which services it can use without hesitation when it has problems and worries.

Above all, make it clear that he or she can count on your help if problems arise. Do not put pressure on your child and ask without bias if you feel he/she has problems. A problem that seems small to you may feel much worse to your child. You can also get counselling yourself or together online.

Google Play Store

“Dad, can I have the app?”, “Mom, can you please buy me this mobile game here?” – If you have an Android device, you can’t get around the Google Play Store. It entices users with numerous apps, games, and media content from a seemingly endless selection. Find out what the Play Store is all about and how you can make it childproof in this article.

In a nutshell:

  • App for downloading games, media content and apps
  • App for Android mobile devices and web app for browser
  • Pre-installed on all Android devices, linked to Google account
  • Provider: Google
  • the app itself is free of charge, the offered apps are partly chargeable

Digital bazaar

The Google Play Store is an app marketplace for all smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and smartwatches with the Android operating system. The offer can also be used via the browser. Anyone who wants to use the Google Play Store needs a Google account.

There is a huge selection of free and paid apps, games and media content such as books, music, movies and series in the app. The apps are divided into categories from entertainment and shopping to science and news to health and sports.

Anyone who clicks on an item will be shown the detail page. Here you will find the following information:

  • Provider
  • Number of downloads
  • Age rating
  • Game description
  • Data security
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Contact details of the developer

Apps, games and media content can be downloaded via the green “Install” button. For this, sufficient storage space and a connection to the Internet are required for free offers. If you want to buy paid apps, you click on the button with the price and also have to enter a payment method in the Google Play Store, such as a credit card or a credit card.

Browse, play and have fun

Children and young people are curious, hungry for knowledge and love to try new things. Through their peer group, they find out what apps are hot at the moment and also want to install them in order to pass the time with apps and games, deepen a hobby or acquire knowledge. The Google Play Store offers numerous options.

What does the provider think?

Many apps in the Google Play Store have age labels. Because numerous new apps are added every day, not all apps are tested. That’s why there are apps without age ratings. They are treated the same way as adult apps.

Under the “Kids” tab, you’ll find apps and games that educators recommend. They are divided into three age categories and are intended to make it easier for parents to find their way through the wide range of apps. These apps usually come without ads and in-app purchases and are educational.

What should parents pay attention to?

When dealing with the Google Play Store, three points are important: choose age-appropriate offers, weigh the costs, and pay attention to data protection.

If your child is using your unsecured device, do not leave your child alone with it. It could download paid apps through the Google Play Store, make in-app purchases, or download offers that aren’t safe or age-appropriate.

If your child uses their own device, set up the Google Play Store to be child-safe:

  • Age ratings: Together with your child, decide which apps he or she is allowed to install on his or her smartphone. Find out about age-appropriate offerings and pay attention to the apps’ age labels. Under “Settings”, select the “Family” category and “Parental control settings”. Here you can activate a PIN and select an age level.
  • Cost: Many apps are free for now, but add fun by paying for new levels or advanced features. Talk to your child about in-app purchases and agree if and how much money your child is allowed to spend. Avoid putting a payment option in the Play Store of your child’s device. If this has already been done, you can remove the indication. On medien-kindersicher.de you will find detailed instructions on how to do this under point 4.2. A gift card has the advantage of allowing your child to budget how much money they want to spend in the Play Store and learn to be responsible with budgets.
  • Privacy: many apps are data-hungry and want access to smartphone features that are not strictly necessary to use the app. Educate your child about app permissions and go through the settings on the smartphone together. Apps in the Google Play Store are verified by Google. Nevertheless, there could be malicious apps among them that steal personal data or smuggle viruses onto your own device. Before downloading, check carefully if it is a reputable app by checking the provider, ratings and number of downloads. Make your child aware of the topic of data protection and set up rules together on whether and how your child is allowed to download apps on his or her own.

Tips on how to set up your child’s smartphone safely are available in this article

Apple App Store

A well-stocked store that offers many useful applications for Apple products: the Apple App Store. It entices users with numerous apps, games, and media content from a seemingly endless selection. Find out what the Apple App Store is all about and how you can set it up to be childproof in this article.

In brief

  • Official marketplace for all iOS apps
  • Over two million apps for Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads and iPods
  • Pre-installed on all iOS devices, linked to Apple ID
  • Provider: Apple
  • the app itself is free of charge, the offered apps are partly chargeable

Digital bazaar

The Apple App Store is a digital platform where users can download and install iOS apps for their Apple devices such as iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. It was introduced by Apple in 2008 and has had a significant impact on the app development industry and mobile ecosystem ever since.

From games and entertainment apps to useful tools and productivity apps, the App Store offers a wide range. Users can search for apps, read ratings and reviews, buy apps or download them for free, and sign up for subscriptions. Specifically, there are ‘Today’ (apps and news selected by Apple), ‘Games’ (different types of games), ‘Apps’ (apps by category), ‘Arcade’ (exclusive games within the Apple Arcade subscription) and the general ‘Search’ categories for this on the home screen. When browsing, however, advertised apps are preferred. This means that even when searching for a specific app, the app you are looking for will first appear under a promotional post.

For developers, the App Store provides a platform to market. To do this, the apps must meet certain Apple guidelines and requirements regarding privacy, security, and features that enhance user experience. Each app is pre-screened for this by Apple before release. Some female developers criticize the high fees Apple charges for selling apps in the Apple App Store, while others have concerns about the review and approval processes.

Browse, play and have fun

Games, coloring and drawing apps, music and creative apps, entertainment apps and learning apps – the Apple App Store offers children and young people numerous options. Many of the apps are interactive, entertaining and promote cognitive development, language development or fine motor skills.

There is a separate category in the Apple App Store for children up to the age of twelve: it is called ‘Kids’. The apps there are usually kid-friendly and educational. However, the category is not intuitive to find. To do this, you must enter ‘children’ in the search box. This is the only way to land in the children’s section with subcategories.

The age ratings are set by Apple itself based on the content of the app and the target audience. Factors such as violence, sexual content, drug use, or gambling are considered. Each app is then given an age rating of 4+, 9+, 12+, 17+ or no clearance. Apple uses its own guidelines and standards for this.

What does the provider think?

Strict guidelines for all apps for children should ensure their safety: child-friendly content. No use of tracking technologies. No advertising. No in-app purchases without parental permission. Easy navigation and operation. No links to outside websites or social media without parent permission. Educational Benefits.

You can also adjust the settings on their Apple devices to restrict access to certain apps or content and ensure that your child can only access kid-friendly apps.

What should parents pay attention to?

  • Age ratings: The Apple App Store specifies an age rating for each app. However, these clearances are only a rough estimate. Pay attention to age-appropriate offers for your child
  • Parental controls: Activate the parental controls. The “Screen time” option in the settings of your iOS device allows you to set restrictions and assign your own code for it. You can then, for example, allow or block the use of certain apps. Apps with a higher age rating can also be blocked automatically.
  • Costs and in-app purchases: Some apps are free for now, but additional fun then costs; more levels, better devices, more play money. Depending on their age, talk to your child about in-app purchases. Do not deposit bank details for free disposal, but gladly load the balance with pocket money for free allocation. For younger children, disable in-app purchases or approve the purchase process before your child can buy anything. You can do this both in the app itself and in the App Store. However, the settings may vary depending on the device and operating system.
  • Privacy: Some apps collect data about users, including personal information, or access to device features. Therefore, restrict app permissions if necessary. Although Apple checks all apps in advance, there are even harmful apps that steal personal data or smuggle viruses onto your own device. Before downloading, check if it is a reputable app by checking the provider, ratings and number of downloads. Make your child aware of the topic of data protection and set up rules together on whether and how your child is allowed to download apps on his or her own.

Tips on how to safely set up your child’s smartphone are available in this article.

Young people under digital stress

The smartphone vibrates in your pocket. When you look at it, there are 15 new messages in the family group and a voice message from your best friend waiting for your reply. This can be annoying or even put pressure on you. Being constantly connected and reachable can trigger digital stress – even among young people. But how does that happen?

What’s behind digital stress?

Digital stress is mainly related to constant accessibility, distraction and control. Most young people – but also many adults – assume that they will respond to messages on WhatsApp , Instagram and Co within a few minutes or have to respond. This expectation of always having to be available can lead to stress on both sides, e.g. if other important tasks such as homework are neglected in the process.

Many young people take their smartphone to bed with them. The first thing many young people do when they wake up in the morning is automatically reach for their smartphone. This also happens at other times of the day – often quite unconsciously as a distraction or out of boredom. For example, many people use their social media feed as a bedtime story before going to sleep, but the more screen time during the day, the more trouble you can have falling asleep or sleeping through it.

For children and young people, it’s part of the job to constantly communicate and stay in touch with their friends via messenger apps, social media or online games. However, this is also associated with social pressure . Social media apps are made to get as much user attention as possible, and not all content does teens good. The own self-expression, the comparison with idols or friends can be exhausting. Online games also want to keep players engaged with reward systems and performance principles.

Those who do not participate in group chats, for example, fear being excluded from the schoolyard as well. That’s why it’s especially hard for younger teenagers to escape the flood of news. This phenomenon has a name: FOMO stands for “Fear of missing out” and describes the fear of missing out or not noticing something.

The influence of the peer group

At the same time, many young people are annoyed that their friends are constantly looking at their cell phones when they are out together. On the other hand, they themselves find it difficult to take their eyes off their cell phones and constantly check their smartphones for incoming messages. When a red number appears on the app icon on the display, it makes you excited and curious. It is a small feeling of happiness that wants to be repeated as often as possible.

Older teenagers are often already aware of the problem and try to find their own solutions to it. They are more likely to be able to separate themselves from their own circle of friends and to pursue their own needs with self-confidence. Whether on vacation, while learning, or permanently – under JOMO (“Joy of missing out”), for example, social media users share their joy at being able to switch off and put digital media aside for a while.

Strategies against digital stress

In the age of smartphones, mobile Internet and messengers, almost everyone can relate to the term digital stress. Many children and young people are bothered by the fact that their parents also look at their smartphones too often. You are a role model for your child for conscious media use. If you yourself feel stressed by your smartphone, talk openly about it with your child. This way, it feels understood when it can’t put the smartphone down.

Together with the whole family, find strategies to reduce stress. Set rules together to reduce time on the cell phone. This can be, for example, a ban on cell phones during meals together or in the bedroom. Of course, the adults must also abide by these rules!

Or you can arrange a “digital diet” in which all family members abstain completely from digital media and the Internet for a while. If you do something nice together as a family instead, the renunciation may not be quite so hard!

Apps for regulating media time or setting options such as screen time can help to use media more consciously . A comprehensive list on how to avoid digital stress is provided by the saferinternet.at site.

Virtual parents’ evening on 5/31/2023 from 5 to 6 p.m.

Play, but safely! What parents should keep in mind when playing games

The selection of digital games seems endless, and the applications are diverse: games can entertain, impart knowledge, promote specific skills, or even function as fitness trainers. But as with all media, it is important to use them responsibly. In this context, the age labels of the USK are an important orientation aid for parents to find out whether a game is suitable for the respective age of the child or not. In addition, the license plates provide important information about whether a game has features such as “chats”, “in-game purchases” or “location sharing” that should be taken into account.
But how exactly are these age labels assigned? What factors are considered and what should parents generally keep in mind when dealing with games? At the virtual parents’ evening of Elternguide.online, these questions are answered directly by an expert from the USK.

Be there live and ask your questions to our expert – we will give answers and be available for exchange!

The event will be held in German.

Information and registration

Date: 31.05.2023 | Time: 5 to 6 pm
Course of events: Media pedagogical input with opportunities for open exchange
Speaker: Marek Brunner (USK)
Moderation: Lidia de Reese (FSM e.V.)
Platform: The virtual parents’ evening is realized via the tool “Zoom”.
Privacy Notice: Zoom is a service of Zoom Video Communications Inc. which is based in the USA. We use Zoom via the German operator easymeet24. easymeet24 ‘s server is located in Europe. Furthermore, within the Zoom service we have chosen the configurations with the highest data and security protection.
Please also take note of our privacy policy.


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    Reading and learning with Tiptoi

    On long car journeys, on train journeys, or simply cozily at home on the sofa – the Tiptoi interactive learning system is popular with children and parents. We explain the many functions offered by the hearing pen.

    In brief

    • Reading pen with recording function
    • usable in combination with special books, games and puzzles
    • only compatible with Ravensburger products
    • for children from 2 years
    • in the starter package for 70 Euro (from 2 years) or 60 Euro (from 3 years)

    What can Tiptoi be used for?

    The Tiptoi is a reading or listening pen. If you tap the stylus on a picture or text in a book provided for this purpose, suitable sounds, speech or music will sound. Stories, games and toys are thus brought to life. To do this, you need to download the corresponding audio files from the Internet in advance. For the old generation of the hearing pen (for 3 years and older), you have to connect the pen to a computer to do this. With the new version of the hearing pen (for ages 2 and up), this all works via the charging station with WLAN connection; it is completely independent of the parental computer.

    The levels of experience in the books or puzzles are divided into four categories:

    • When you tap on the red eye icon of the Discover layer, the pen reads texts, makes sounds, explains pictures and much more.
    • At the orange light bulb symbol of the Knowledge level, children learn exciting facts about the respective book topic. New content is retrieved again and again on a random basis.
    • In the storytelling level, which is marked with a blue speech bubble symbol, the children listen intently to short stories designed to stimulate the imagination and deepen the play experience.
    • And finally, you can tap on the green cube icon of the Games level, whose content deepens what you have learned in a playful and interactive way.

    The reading pen can be used not only in combination with books, but also with games, a globe or puzzles. It is recommended for children from 2 years. Products for different age groups are offered.

    The earlier devices (since 2018) for children over the age of three have an integrated microphone so that children can record their own sounds and speech. The newer device (from 2022) for children from the age of two has no microphone and therefore no recording function.

    What fascinates children about it?

    The multiple uses of the listening pen offer an interactive and engaging way to learn. This encourages the children to become active and to foster their curiosity. By playing with Tiptoi books and toys, children can improve their cognitive skills and develop their language, math and social skills.

    Also, the listening pen allows children to discover the world around them in a new way. You can immerse yourself in a variety of topics and learn more about history, science, or geography. For example, not only is it explained what the hoot of an owl sounds like, but you can also listen to it. Even several times. The operation of the pen is simple and its use is adapted to the motor skills of a child aged from about 2 years.

    The products designed specifically for children over 2 years are usually simpler. They have larger and more colorful images, as well as less text and more complex interactive features. They aim to stimulate the senses and curiosity of younger children and develop their fine motor skills.

    The products for ages 4 and up are usually more complex and sophisticated in terms of interactive features and learning materials. They are often designed with more text and more challenging content to give children a deeper understanding of topics such as history, science, or math.

    What does the provider think?

    According to Ravensburger, Tiptoi inspires and motivates to play and learn! It is an innovative learning and creative system with which children discover the world through play. Its child-friendly design and high-quality content, as well as the wide range of possible uses, are particularly highlighted here.

    With the Create recording function, the provider promises to promote your child’s language skills and self-confidence.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    The listening pen is only compatible with the corresponding Ravensburger products. The cost of the pen and matching books should therefore not be underestimated. The pen alone already costs about 39 euros. However, you can choose from a variety of products in different price ranges, which are also always a nice gift idea.

    With the older version of the pen (for ages 3 and up), audio content can only be loaded onto the device using Tiptoi Manager, a computer program from Ravensburger. Computers and Internet access are therefore a prerequisite. The recording function cannot be used with all Tiptoi products, but only with Create products.

    For more on what to consider when using family read aloud pens, check out our general post on this.


    “Just ask a chatbot!” – or something similar could be the future motto when it comes to researching on the Internet or answering tricky questions. The chat program ChatGPT is currently the talk of the town, and even children and teenagers are trying out the language program. We provide an insight into the tool.

    In a nutshell:

    • Artificial Intelligence (AI) based language model
    • Chat program that gives answers from the Internet
    • Developer: OpenAI
    • Registration with e-mail address and mobile phone number
    • Free of charge, no age check

    What is ChatGPT?

    The chatbot gives users answers from the web using machine learning. We had a little chat with him.

    Question: What is ChatGPT?

    Answer: ChatGPT is a computer model developed by OpenAI to have conversations with humans. It is particularly good at answering questions and carrying on conversations, having been trained on large amounts of text.

    Question: What kind of texts was ChatGPT trained with?

    Answer: ChatGPT has been trained with texts such as news articles, books, conversations and other documents from the Internet.

    Question: Please write a two-sentence summary of “George Orwell: 1984”.

    Answer: “1984” by George Orwell is a dystopia in which a totalitarian government controls every aspect of its citizens’ lives. The protagonist, Winston Smith, works for the government but rebels against it and meets a woman named Julia, but is eventually captured and “reprogrammed.”

    Question: Does ChatGPT have an answer for everything?

    Answer: No, ChatGPT does not have an answer for everything. It is a computer model and can sometimes give wrong or inaccurate answers, especially to strange or unknown questions. It is important to check ChatGPT’s responses and use them with caution.

    Question: What do children and teenagers do with ChatGPT?

    Answer: Children and teenagers can talk to ChatGPT and ask it questions as they would with a friend or an online search engine. ChatGPT can help them find answers to questions that interest them. Some children also use it to improve their communication skills. It is important that children and young people learn how to use technology safely and responsibly, including ChatGPT.

    What fascinates children/youth about it?

    ChatGPT is an advanced voice AI that can do more than traditional search engines and voice assistants. It can write original texts, carry on fluent conversations, translate texts into other languages, and perform complex tasks. It can be fascinating to see how quickly and straightforwardly replies and interesting and entertaining information is delivered. Some children and young people also simply enjoy a conversation with a virtual counterpart or unexpected answers. Also, the technology behind ChatGPT can be impressive and interactions with an AI exciting. This supports children and young people in their self-exploration and promotes creativity and linguistic skills.

    What can be problematic about the offer?

    • Inappropriate content: Children and young people may find inappropriate or dangerous content on the platform.
    • Incorrect information: Chatbots are only as good as their programming and can provide incorrect or inaccurate answers.
    • No human interaction: the chat program is not a real human. It cannot provide the same kind of emotional support and understanding that children and youth expect from people.
    • Privacy: Children and teenagers can put their personal data at risk when communicating via ChatGPT.
    • Outdated state of knowledge: The state of knowledge of AI currently only extends to the year 2021.

    What does the provider think?

    According to OpenAI, children and young people should be protected as follows:

    • Content filtering: ChatGPT does not use inappropriate, vulgar or offensive words.
    • Monitoring of conversations: OpenAI pays attention to what is discussed with ChatGPT. Inappropriate questions may not be able to answer or the answer may be limited.
    • Education: OpenAI consistently encourages in its responses to think critically and to be careful to verify information from the ChatGPT with other sources.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    Explain to your child that not everything the chat program says is true or correct. ChatGPT has been trained with texts, and therefore only knows what it has seen. It can make mistakes. Make sure your child verifies the information they receive with other sources. It’s best to try this out together and explain to him how to deal with disinformation.

    The chatbot can assist with school-related tasks. For example, he can describe something in simple words. ChatGPT should not do homework for your child. Explain to your child that ChatGPT is a tool and not a perfect source. ChatGPT cannot think.

    Stay in conversation with your child and educate them about dangerous content online. The chatbot has also been trained with texts that may be inappropriate for your child. Work out boundaries and rules for use together.

    You and your child should not submit any personal information. Encourage your child to let you know if there is a problem. Make sure your child understands how to protect his or her privacy.

    Smartphones and tablets: battery and where it goes

    “I have to call it a day, my battery is almost out!” – does this sound familiar? Just when the smartphone or tablet was fully charged, it flashes red again. This article explains which functions consume a particularly large amount of energy and how you can increase the battery performance of mobile devices.

    Charge battery correctly

    Lithium-ion batteries are installed in smartphones and tablets. They store energy, release it into the device’s power circuit, and absorb new power via a cable. Do not allow your device to fully discharge, but do not fully charge it either. According to TÜV Süd, the ideal battery level is 30 to 70 percent. Leaving the device hanging from the power cord at night is not a good idea. More expensive models have a battery control system that automatically regulates the charging process. Use the charger supplied by the manufacturer, because then the charging power and speed will optimally suit your device.

    Increase battery power

    Batteries are very sensitive components of smartphones and tablets. Protect your devices from moisture and humidity, from cold and heat, as well as from shocks and falls. This will prevent damage to the battery cells.

    You can increase the battery life with the following tips:

    • The display eats up the most power in mobile devices. Reduce the brightness of the screen, use the “Automatic brightness” function and use the “Night mode” in dark environments. Avoid the “Always On” mode, where the display is on continuously, for example to show the time.
    • Turn off features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or location when you don’t need them. The constant search for reception consumes a lot of power.
    • Check the “Battery” section in the settings: how much energy does your device consume during the course of the day and which apps require particularly much power? If there is an app in the list that you have not used at all, it could be a buggy or data-robbing app. Uninstall the app or make an app update.
    • Close apps and processes that are running in the background. The more processes are active, the more power your device requires. Close apps that you don’t need at the moment. On Android, turn off automatic synchronization of accounts like the Google apps under “Settings” à “Accounts”.
    • Activate the “Energy saving mode” function. This automatically stops background processes. Your device may then operate somewhat slower, but with less energy.
    • Widgets, for example with current news or the weather, also consume a lot of power. Remove it from the screen again if necessary.
    • Reduce the number of apps that are allowed to send you push messages. Each time a notification is sent, the device is brought out of sleep mode. For Apple, go to “Settings” à “Messages”. On Android, you select the individual apps under “Settings” à “Apps & Notifications” and then specify which app is allowed to send you notifications.
    • To save power, use silent mode and reduce audible and sensory signals. Sounds and vibration consume quite a bit of energy.

    Here is what you and your child can look out for

    To ensure that you and your child enjoy your device for longer, check the settings on the smartphone and tablet together. If you are on the device a lot, you also consume a lot of battery. Gaming apps like Clash of Clans and video streaming are particularly energy-hungry. Set a good example and be a role model for conscious media use. Think together about how you want to shape media use in the family and agree on rules that apply to everyone. Especially for younger children, screen time settings can help regulate time on the device.

    If the battery is not enough, you can take a powerbank with you on the road. If the battery often runs down quickly despite all energy-saving measures, don’t buy a new device right away, but have the battery replaced by the manufacturer. This protects both our environment and your wallet.

    News for children and teenagers

    A bad event, such as the start of the war in Ukraine, usually dominates media coverage or street conversations for days. Children get to hear what adults are preoccupied with and are thus confronted with frightening, current events. It is hardly possible and makes little sense to keep children and young people completely away from the news. In this article, we explain how young people can be accompanied on the subject of news and what age-appropriate offers there are.

    Introduce children to news

    Many parents rightly wonder how to explain such events to children without frightening them. Adult news overwhelms children due to its complexity and the depictions of e.g. catastrophes, terror and violence. Especially pictures or videos are often still unsuitable for them, as they are difficult to classify and process. In times of fake news and many news sources that are difficult to assess, children and young people should be strengthened in their ability to understand, analyze and evaluate news in an age-appropriate way.

    Child-friendly offers in video format

    A variety of safe news services suitable for children are available for this purpose. They offer a wide range of topics and cover children’s interests. Your child will find news here conveyed in an age-appropriate way, in understandable language, with simple and clear sentences. In addition, dramatic and frightening images and videos are avoided. Sometimes children even become reporters themselves and report on events from their own perspective.

    Examples of messages for children and young people on the Internet are

    • logo! from ZDF – the news program for children is broadcast daily on KIKA
    • kindersache.de from the German Children’s Fund – on the join-in page, current news texts are prepared in a way that is suitable for children, and the comments from the community are moderated.
    • duda.news of the Kölner Stadtanzeiger – here the children’s editorial office of the newspaper writes

    The children’s search engines blinde-kuh.de and fragfinn.de help to check news from different sites in a quick run. Here, articles from various child-friendly offers are displayed at a glance.

    News podcasts

    Podcasts have also long since arrived in the children’s room. In short audio files, children can get an overview of what is happening in the world right now. News in audio format comes entirely without frightening images, creating an inclusive opportunity for all children who cannot read or see.

    Interesting examples of podcasts are:

    • Daily Toggo from SUPER RTL – the news portal creates a positive view of events through understandable everyday comparisons. Recommended actions for parents will help navigate difficult issues.
    • Nine and a half is the name of the children’s news from WDR’s Maus editorial team – the focus is always on a topic that has currently attracted attention.
    • Children’s news from NDR Info – every Saturday news for children as podcast
    • Ask me! News and me from BR – children’s news in participatory format with podcast telephone for listeners’ questions
    • Podcast logo! – To go from ZDF – The logo! news programs from television to listen to

    News for teenagers

    Young people inform themselves less via linear television and more via social media platforms such as
    . Social networks and messengers are not only home to serious news offerings, but it is precisely there that young people are confronted with disinformation and opinion mongering, for example on extremist positions. The following formats from public broadcasters and other providers are recommended:

    • funk from ARD and ZDF – The content network is active on various social media channels and targets teenagers and young adults aged 14 and over with a mix of information, orientation and entertainment.
    • LeNews on YouTube – German web video producer LeFloid offers young people a mix of news and entertainment, marked by irony and satire.
    • tagesschau by ARD – The Tagesschau short clips on YouTube are hosted by young people and depict daily events in just a few minutes.
    • mitmischen.de – the website of the German Bundestag for young people is designed by young reporters directly from the Bundestag.
    • nicetoknow from WDR – The news channel on TikTok prepares news for young people between 14 and 16 years. Five young hosts write their own texts, produce clips with professional support and answer comments from the community. The selection of topics takes place in cooperation with a 10th grade class.

    Do not leave children and young people alone with news

    The following also applies to messages suitable for children: Depending on the child’s individual stage of development, you should watch or listen to messages specifically for the respective age group together with your child. Younger children in particular absorb news unfiltered and have difficulty assessing the extent to which the content affects them and influences their lives. Especially with bad events it is important to classify them well. Take your child’s fears seriously, talk to him about them, and comfort him. This will help your child understand the message and process it well.

    For young people, it is important to continuously strengthen their information literacy. Give your child access to youth-friendly news portals. Stay in touch about what is happening on a daily basis and also talk critically about sources. Educate your child about phenomena like fake news, conspiracy myths, and propaganda, and set a good example by getting news only from reputable sources.

    TikTok and drug use

    It’s actually forbidden – and yet surprisingly present: On social media platforms like TikTok and Facebook but also in messengers like WhatsApp and Telegram there is a drug scene in which some very young users are active.

    Drug use and social networks – what do you find there anyway?

    Illegal drugs are finding their way into the public domain via social media platforms like TikTok. Under corresponding hashtags, the popular short video app features videos of users talking about their own drug use or showing it live. This goes from weed and mushrooms to meth, MDMA or heroin. According to both Germanyouth media protection laws and the platforms’ community rules, such videos are prohibited. Some videos come from children and young people who get encouragement for their behavior via likes and comments.

    Social media has not only made the topic of drugs itself more visible. It may also be easier to find the drugs themselves via websites or groups, if contact can be made with dealers there.

    Funny and harmless? The videos convey fatally wrong images

    The problem with this drug scene, which is just a click away: the colorful images, the fun depicted, the feeling of being in a group of like-minded people, as well as unifying elements like the music initially seem inviting. Often drug use is trivialized in the videos, experiments are praised and supported by other users. This can create a completely false image of drug use as recreational fun among adolescents. Children and young people in particular, who are looking for support and confirmation, can easily be attracted to such content.

    It can be problematic that platforms often suggest similar videos to their users again with the help of algorithms. This can make topics that you deal with more and more present.

    What do the platforms do?

    According to the community guidelines, such videos are of course not permitted – neither consumption and glorification nor the sale of drugs on the platforms. TikTok therefore blocks obvious hashtags or deletes posts and groups if they are noticed or reported. However, not all newly invented hashtags can always be blocked immediately.

    What should parents pay attention to?

    In terms of both media and drug use, the golden road is a trusting relationship and open communication. Stay in touch with your child and show interest in them and their media use. In the best case, you will notice early on if your child encounters questionable content or has questions or problems. Then you can find a way to deal with it together.

    If your child is still very young, you can also control his or her media use technically – for example, with the help of the accompanied mode on TikTok.

    If you feel your child is changing, has mental health issues, or may already be in contact with drugs, there are several steps you can take:

    • Address your child directly. Ask specific questions and be open with your concerns. Sometimes a frank conversation gets a lot moving.
    • Educate your child about algorithms and give them tips on how to handle recommendations from social media apps. Clicking “not interested” helps the TikTok algorithm understand that your child does not want to watch such videos.
    • Encourage your child to report such posts so that the appropriate social media platform can delete them.
    • Talk to trusted people, such as teachers, school social workers, or social educators.
    • In all larger cities, there are contact points such as educational counseling centers, counseling centers for mental health problems or drug counseling centers. A directory for the latter is provided by the Deutsche Hauptstelle für Suchtfragen e. V. Visit them alone or together with your child and seek help!
    • Under the nationwide Addiction & Drugs Hotline, experienced professionals offer anonymous, telephone counseling around the clock.
    • Give your child access to age-appropriate educational resources like drugcom.com that provide information about the dangers of drugs.

    Cyberflashing – unwanted messages on the smartphone

    The cell phone vibrates, a message arrives. But the click on the notification contains an unpleasant surprise: instead of a message from the circle of friends, an obscene photo appears on the screen. When people send photos of their private parts to others without consent, it’s called cyberflashing. For children and young people in particular, this can be very unpleasant or even disturbing.

    Cyberflashing – who, how and especially why?

    New media offerings and technical possibilities make many things easier in communication. Sometimes, however, they also open the door to unpleasant phenomena. Cyberflashing is one such.

    Mostly it is men who photograph their private parts and send the resulting photos – so-called “dickpics” – to women. Sometimes these pictures are sent to your own contacts via Messenger without being asked. More often, however, senders use social networks or dating apps to send their images, directing them at people they barely know or don’t know at all.

    The problem has been exacerbated by functions such as AirDrop: This allows content to be sent to other devices in the vicinity – without the number or a clear name being displayed. So women can receive pictures from unknown and do not even know from whom. Why especially men send such pictures is not entirely clear. It could be a form of exhibitionism or a desire to initiate a sexual relationship or to get similar images back.

    What can parents do against cyberflashing?

    For those affected, receiving an unwanted dick pic is usually something unpleasant. Depending on the situation, the image can only annoy, disgust, disturb or traumatize – especially if it hits teenagers and young adults, or happens in a situation where others can still see the display. Talk openly and objectively with your child about the phenomenon of cyberflashing. If your child can be confident that he or she can discuss such issues with you, he or she will approach you if an incident should occur.

    Receiving snapshots of your private parts without being asked is not only unpleasant – it is also punishable for the person sending them. According to paragraph 184 in the Penal Code, cyberflashing falls under the “distribution of pornographic writings”. This is not a trivial offense, but a criminal offense and can result in up to one year imprisonment or a fine. If you or your child receives a Dickpic, you should fight back. You can report the incident to the nearest police station. There are also online portals that make it quick and easy to advertise, such as the website dickstinction.com. If you suspect that your child is sending such pictures themselves, it is imperative that you discuss this seriously. It is best to advise your child of the possible consequences and the unpleasant situation for the recipient before it even happens. Therefore, stay in touch about your child’s media use!

    To avoid receiving unwanted images, it is recommended that you check the security settings on your smartphone thoroughly with your child. AirDrop, as well as Bluetooth, is best turned off when your child is in a public space.

    Your child should not even accept unexpected messages from unknown people. Some messengers, such as Signal, also offer settings that require people who are not yet in the phonebook to first make a contact request before they are allowed to send anything.

    You can find help and advice here:

    • Extensive information on cyberflashing is available on the Deutsche Welle website.
    • HateAid explains exactly how to protect yourself or take action against cyberflashing and offers advice.
    • Further help pages for children and young people and for parents on the subject of sexual harassment online are listed in our article on cybergrooming.

    Reading in the age of social media

    Books and TikTok – how do they fit together? Young people show that it can be done. TikTok has long been more than a platform for colorful dance videos: Young people also use it to find out about current topics – including hot books. There are also people on YouTube and Instagram who share stories about reading and their latest reads.

    Of bookfluencers and booktokers

    Reading books seems to be losing importance in the age of social media. However, Booktok’s trend proves that digital and analog media need not be mutually exclusive. Reading also still has its place in the world of young people.

    The term Booktok is a combination of the English word for book and the second part of the name of the popular app TikTok. There, mainly female readers share book tips under the hashtag #booktok – far away from bespectacled older gentlemen talking high-toned about literature. The videos are entertaining and appeal to young users. The so-called booktokers particularly enjoy reading books from the romance, fantasy, crime/thriller, and young adult genres.

    The Young Adult book genre tells stories about growing up and therefore appeals especially to teenagers and young adults.

    Publishers and bookstores are now also on TikTok, cranking up their sales in popular genres. Certain books become trendy via Booktok and thus become bestsellers. Some bookstores have their own book tables where the most popular publications are presented.

    Reading challenges are also launched. In doing so, TikTokers introduce books on a particular theme, cover, etc.

    There is also a large book community on Instagram: Bookstagram. Users exchange more information on books here than on TikTok. In the comments, people talk together about current readings, create reading circles and start so-called buddyreads (joint reading rounds).

    It probably all started on YouTube, where reading recommendations can also be found under the hashtag #booktube.

    Apps support the hype

    Special apps can help make book reading itself a challenge. How many pages have I read this week? How many books can I finish in a month? They are called GoodReads, Read-O, Bookstats or Booksup – apps that can be used to track one’s reading behavior. Statistics can be shared directly on social media in some cases.

    Such apps can motivate people to read more. Through some, users network with each other and write their own reviews. You can read a particular book in a buddyread at the same time and exchange ideas about it. When installing the app, you should pay attention to what other users see and what data the app collects and possibly passes on to third parties.

    What else is there to consider?

    Publishers use social media and influencers for advertising just like other companies. Even though books and reading are usually seen as positive, you and your child should look closely at what book is being advertised. Not always the opinion of the booktoker and bookstagramer is honest and unbiased, advertising is not always marked. Finally, book purchases can also run into money. Therefore, you should talk with your child about what and how many books really need to buy. Is your child just interested in presenting the book in a video or is he or she really interested in reading?

    Use your local library and borrow some books from there. Many libraries have digital access points through which e-books can also be borrowed. An e-reader is also available for check-out at the library.

    Practical functions on the smartphone: WLAN, mobile data & Co.

    Whether at home or on the road – with the smartphone, access to the Internet is possible almost everywhere. There are different ways to connect mobile devices to the network. The WLAN at home should be password protected. Anyone who uses mobile data must pay attention to the data volume. Surfing on public WLANs means being careful with personal data.

    WLAN – how it works

    WLAN is the abbreviation for the English term “Wireless Local Area Network” and means in German: “Kabelloses lokales Umgebungsnetzwerk”. The wireless local area network is tied to a specific location, for example, home or office. Data transmission works via radio and is limited to the area around the router location. Payment is made via a contract with a telecommunications company, often in combination with telephone and television. Many contracts offer a high or even unlimited data volume.

    “Give me your Wi-Fi password real quick!”. Those who have guests often share not only the living room, but also Internet access with family and friends. For WLAN access at home, you should set a password and change it regularly. It is important to give the password only to trusted persons and to set up guest accesses if possible.

    Don’t be afraid to switch off: set the WLAN provisioning times so that the WLAN is switched off for a time during the day, for example at night. Taking a break from screen time can be good for the whole family.

    Public WLAN – how to use it safely

    There are often public WLAN hotspots in places like train stations, restaurants, or squares. This can be practical, because they are free of charge and save your own data volume. In most cases, public WLANs operate via a login with or without a password, during which consent to the terms of use is requested.

    Caution: Public WLANs offer little control and security. They are usually not as well encrypted as the private WLANs at home and offer points of attack for hackers – keyword data theft. Use only trusted public WLANs and pay close attention to the correct name of the network. If you are unsure: as a precaution, do not share any personal information and do not log in to any accounts such as email or social media accounts. Avoid sensitive transactions such as online banking or online shopping.

    Mobile data – Internet on the move

    The mobile data connection enables access to the Internet via the user’s own mobile communications contract. A good network reception must be available for this. When using mobile data, it is important to observe the data volume specified in the contract. Therefore, have an eye on your consumption. If possible, don’t download apps or watch long videos. Gaming apps also consume a lot of data volume. Additional costs could arise here. Check your app permissions: certain actions should only happen when you have access to a WLAN, for example downloading large files such as photos or voice messages.

    Private hotspot & tethering – connect multiple devices

    The private hotspot (or mobile WLAN hotspot) works like a bridge: via it, the Internet access of one device is transmitted to another device. For example, mobile data from the cellular network can also be used on the laptop. This process is called tethering. A hotspot can be set up via the settings, but not every smartphone and not every cell phone contract offer this function.

    Attention: If you activate a hotspot, it will be displayed as WLAN for all devices in the vicinity. Therefore, be sure to protect the hotspot with a secure password. Pay attention to your data volume and battery consumption: Video conferencing, streaming services and online games draw a particularly large amount of energy and data. If you share your mobile data with third parties, you are liable for violations of the law by the users, such as illegal streaming. Share your private hotspot only with trusted people in your immediate circle.

    This is what you and your child should pay attention to

    Children and young people want to be online wherever possible and access the Internet quickly. Set up a secure WLAN connection at home. With routers such as the FRITZ!Box, you can make parental control settings and set a blocking time, for example. Agree on rules to whom the password may be disclosed. Explain to your child the difference between the use of WLAN and mobile data and encourage him or her to save data. Protect your child’s data: talk to your child about the risks of public WLANs and hotspots and check the settings on the smartphone together.

    Secure streaming on Netflix, Disney+ and more.

    Many families no longer rely on linear television, i.e. watching what’s on. Instead, people use their smart TVs or tablets to access streaming services – whenever they have the time and the inclination to watch TV.

    Kids and teens like to stream

    The offer for children and young people is virtually unlimited and available at any time with streaming services and media libraries. Children watch movies and series partly on their own. This makes it all the more important to set the services so that they can only access content that is appropriate for children and their age.

    Keep track of how much your child watches. Binge-watching can also occur among children and young people if they are not accompanied in their media use.

    Use parental control settings

    Youth protection measures are intended to prevent children and young people from having experiences that are inappropriate for their age. These are, for example, content that may frighten or disturb them, or unwanted contact by strangers. Streaming services must use certain settings to ensure that their services are safe for children and young people to use.

    Each streaming service has its own parental control settings, which are adjusted from time to time. Therefore, we can only reflect a current status (December 2022) of the most popular services in each case.

    Regularly inform yourself about current functions and parental control settings of “your” streaming provider. Many have their own information portals for parents.

    Amazon Prime Video

    You can find the parental controls in Prime Video either in your Amazon account via the browser (Gear: Settings) or in the app under “My Area”. Here you can set up a PIN, after entering which secured content can still be viewed. In addition, purchase restrictions and playback restrictions can be activated with the parental control. Parents can create their own children’s area on Amazon via the paid additional subscription Amazon Kids+. Read more about how to set up the Amazon parental control here.


    Disney+ also allows children’s profiles to be created with a child-friendly user interface. In these, only content with age ratings from FSK 0 up to and including FSK 6 is displayed. However, it is not possible to specify preferences for certain age ratings of content. A PIN can be used to prevent the creation of new profiles. Read more on the Disney+ help page.

    Media libraries of the public broadcasters

    ARD and ZDF have implemented youth protection in two ways: Films, series and programs that are not suitable for children and young people under the age of 16 or 18 can only be watched without registration from 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. (until 6 a.m.). There is also a children’s section that displays only content suitable for children. As soon as this is left, there is a hint. Those who set up an account to use the media libraries can also make additional individual settings, such as additional age ratings, setting a code, and creating a personalized media library. More about this on the help pages of ARD and ZDF.


    With Netflix Kids environment, you can create one or more kids profiles for Netflix. This parental control allows you to set age ratings for a profile, block individual titles, set up a PIN, and enable or disable autoplay. With a child profile, no changes can be made to the own or a
    other profile can be made. The Netflix Kids environment does not only apply to movies and series, it can also be used to restrict access Netflix games. You can get step-by-step instructions on how to set up parental controls on the corresponding Netflix help page.

    Technology only partially protects

    Technical parental control settings are particularly useful when children know about them. Talk to your child about possible dangers and the goal of the settings. You should regularly consider whether settings can be adjusted – together with your child.

    Despite a parental control, your child needs companionship in their media use. Be approachable when questions or fears arise. And watch your child when they watch videos. Choose content together in advance – then you can let your child watch an episode alone. When you set media rules together, you support the promotion of media literacy.

    You can read more about the setting options and detailed instructions in the klicksafe guide.

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