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Hate among gamers

Children and young people like to play with each other and argue in the process – and that is quite normal. These conflicts do not stop at virtual space. Sometimes arguments degenerate into name-calling, hate speech or cyberbullying. What you can do as a parent on the topic of hate among gamers, we explain in this article.

Why do children and young people argue about computer games?

Games are supposed to be fun. Gamers compete against each other in many online games. As in other competitions, there is always one team that wins and at least one that loses. Losing often triggers frustration and anger is taken out on each other. In the process, there are also times when insults are used.

In the process, the difference between fun and seriousness is not always clearly discernible. Rough language, so-called trashtalk, is the order of the day in the gaming scene. However, this gaming language is usually not taken as a personal insult, but determines the tone of conversation. In some conflicts, however, players cross red lines and utter racist or sexist insults, for example. This is called hate speech and is a form of digital violence. This is about the targeted discrimination of people on the net based on one of their characteristics such as gender, skin color, origin or sexual orientation.

One particular feature fosters hatred among gamers: In online spaces, we do not face each other personally. Therefore, it is not easy to recognize how statements from the other person are meant and how one’s own statements are received. Also, things are said thoughtlessly that one would not say to others’ faces. Real people hide behind nicknames, but the anonymity of the Internet sometimes makes you forget that.

What can I do if my child is affected?

Accompany your child in the event of cyberbullying. When children argue, they are often sad afterwards and feel misunderstood. It doesn’t matter whether the conflict takes place online or in real life. After all, the emotions involved are always real. If your child is sad and opens up to you, take your child’s feelings seriously. Answers like “But it’s just a game!” or “Don’t play it if you’re always going to be mad afterwards.” are not conducive to this. Show understanding and offer your child support: “I’m here for you. Let’s figure out what to do together”. If these events happen again, talk to your child about what he or she can change. However, wait until the anger has passed for the moment.

Ask if your child feels offended by the culture of communication among gamers themselves. Make your child strong against haters and trolls and show them how to fight back online. Educate your child about how to deal with digital violence and point them to help sites like juuuport or Hate Aid. If your child encounters hate and incitement in games, report the account together. It is important for the community of the game that harmful players are reported. Thus, the developer studios can take action and block accounts or exclude them from participating in the chat. Find out what games your child plays and check if there is an option to child-proof the game. For example, individual players can be muted so that your child is no longer a repeated target of nasty hostility.

If you observe your child using violent language yourself, talk to your child in a quiet moment about communication in Games. Clarify which insults are discriminatory and make it clear where you stand on them. Be a role model in your own expression, whether online or offline, and show understanding and interest in your child’s play worlds.

Flirting and dating on the net

Friendships in your child’s life are important and become closer over time. At some point, falling in love comes along and the first relationships are formed. We explain what the most popular apps and communication tools for young people involve for flirting and dating online.

Which apps are used for keeping in touch and flirting?

To keep in touch with their peers, many young people primarily use familiar platforms such as WhatsApp , Instagram or Snapchat . Outside of school and sports clubs, they are used to get to know each other better, to follow each other quite inconspicuously, or to feel closer to each other.

But dating apps are also gradually becoming interesting for young people – around the age of 15. However, there are only a few contact portals that are aimed at or suitable for young people, as it is mainly people from their late 20s who go looking for a partner here. Most communities also do not allow participation until the age of 18. Only a few flirting sites offer their services to younger teenagers: Yubo is aimed at young people aged 12 to 17. Although the service is not officially a dating app, it is also used for that purpose and works very similarly to Tinder. MyLOL is aimed at 13- to 19-year-olds and markets itself as a teen dating app, mind you without any age verification. The dating app Skout is now available for ages 17 and up.

Adult dating apps likeTinder, Bumble,Lovoo ,and queer-friendly offerings likeOKCupid . are also exciting for young people because of their playful design: You are shown a picture of another person and decide whether you find them attractive by swiping left or right. Out of curiosity alone, young people are also on the platforms for adults, because there is no age control for these apps.

What can be problematic?

Especially when flirting over the Internet, you have to be careful because you can’t see your counterpart. You don’t know whether what a person writes about himself or herself is true and what interests he or she is pursuing.Anyone can register with a portal or social media platform – whether they are of age or not. When you make contact with strangers, there is a risk of theCybergrooming, i.e., initiating sexual relations with minors.

When adolescents begin to fall in love and (want to) have their first relationships, there is also the risk ofSextingandCyberbullying to Sextortion: Some young people are easily persuaded to send revealing pictures of themselves without realizing the consequences and dangers.The swipe function of some dating apps also supports superficial judgments of others based solely on their appearance. This increases the risk of Insults and Hate Speech.

What should parents pay attention to?

Inform yourself about communication risks on the Internet and educate your child in this regard. Even if your child knows the person they are chatting with, they should be careful about what they write and what photos they send of themselves. Even with offerings like Snapchat where the photos delete themselves automatically, but they can still be saved forever via screenshot. Talk to your child about the fact that content on the Internet can also be disseminated quickly and unintentionally. Encourage your child to listen to his or her gut and not be pushed into anything.

No matter what app your child uses for communication, make sure to instruct them on privacy settings. It’s best to go through these together and consider which settings make sense, such as a profile set to private on Instagram . Make sure to turn off the location function of the apps. This way you can avoid strangers (or unwanted) tracking your child.

Flirting and dating are important for your child. However, make your child aware not to meet complete strangers. And certainly not on their own. At least one phone call should have already taken place. If you are completely unsure, start the first call with a suppressed phone number.

When it comes to a meeting, an adult person should always know about it. This person can, for example, come to the meeting and stay in the background. The meeting place should always be a public place where there are many other people. In addition, the meeting should take place during the day when it is still light outside.

Stay in regular communication with your child about which portals and apps your child is using, what he or she is doing there, or with whom he or she is communicating. However, please continue to respect your child’s right to privacy. Don’t control it, but agree together on rules for dealing with it.

And if your child doesn’t want to talk to you about such things, he or she can get very good information on the subject at ins-netz-gehen.de orhandysektor.de.

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.

How to make your child’s smartphone safer

By the end of elementary school, many children get their own smartphone. With it, they can do different things and have access to the Internet. In addition to many great opportunities, however, it also exposes children to risks. It is especially important that you talk to your child about possible dangers and make safety settings on the new cell phone together.


Without your child realizing it, he or she is leaving data trails by using a messenger and other apps, as well as by surfing the web. Explain to your child the various smartphone functions and how to set them sensibly: WLAN, Bluetooth and location should remain switched off by default and only be activated when absolutely necessary. For example, GPS is necessary if your child is looking for directions to a specific location using a map app. Check the app permissions in the settings together with your child. For example, you can avoid apps accessing the camera without reason or sharing data with other devices and networks. Educate your child about online scams, such as spam emails or phishing. A virus protection app helps against unwanted viruses. This way, your child can protect themselves from dangers such as data theft, subscription traps or fake offers.

Password protection

For a safe stay on the net, it is important to use codes and passwords. Your child’s cell phone should only be used after entering a code (PIN, swipe code or similar) so that no strangers can access the data. Set up secure password protection with your child. This also applies to registration with social media services and apps. Secure passwords consist of at least twelve characters and contain special characters and numbers in addition to letters. Depending on the device, a fingerprint of the child can also be used for unlocking (e.g. Touch ID on iOS). Tips for creating secure passwords are available – e.g. at Handysektor. For younger children, it is recommended that at least one parent also knows the screen lock combination and password.

Parental control settings on Android and iOS

On every smartphone, security and parental control settings can also be made in the settings. Detailed information on this can be found, among other things, in the article on technical youth media protection.

On Android, you can block the installation of apps in the Play Store or set a password for installation or in-app purchases. To do this, activate the parental control settings. You can choose which apps your child can install without a password.
In addition, for Android devices, it is recommended to install a parental control app such as Salfeld Parental Control or download a security app. Limiting screen time helps to control the duration of app use and ensure balanced media consumption. With the Kids Place app, you can, for example, set a time limit on screen time, only allow the use of certain apps, or block unsuitable websites. The Google Family Link app also offers some ways to regulate your child’s cell phone use.

iOS devices offer even more options in their own device settings. Under Screen Time you have the option to set restrictions and assign a separate code for them. You can then, for example, allow or block the use of certain apps and restrict in-app purchases with a password. Movies, music, apps and TV shows with a higher age rating can also be blocked automatically. iOS can automatically filter and hide web content in Safari and apps.

What else can you do to ensure safe smartphone use for your child?

To avoid cost traps, a rate plan with targeted, limited data volume can be useful. Thus, your child has only a limited scope to spend time on the Internet.

Make sure to set certain settings on social media apps as well and use Instagram safely, for example. Here you can specifically regulate the visibility of your child’s profile and the basic contact options. Some platforms even offer a child-friendly alternative mode – for example, the accompanied mode at TikTok.

For more information on safe smartphone settings, it’s worth visiting medien-kindersicher.de. Here are helpful, tech protection solutions for all of your child’s devices, services and apps.

Accompaniment by the parents

Smartphones come with some features to make chatting, surfing the web and using apps safer for your child. Nevertheless, these settings on the device or even parental control apps do not replace the supervision of you as a parent. Your child should always understand why certain websites or apps should be blocked or why GPS tracking should remain disabled. Also, always base your control and safety on your child’s age and development. Especially with teens, don’t intrude too much on your child’s privacy. However, always try to stay in conversation with your child and be there as a point of contact for questions or uncertainties.


Especially adolescents in puberty want to discover their own sexuality, try themselves out and test how they affect other people. This also happens in the digital space via messenger or social network. We explain what sexting is and what you should watch out for.

What is it about?

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So sexting means sending erotic messages, revealing pictures or videos, like pictures in shorts, swimsuit or being completely topless. In doing so, you want to put yourself in the scene as sexy as possible in order to appear attractive to your counterpart. By the way, sexting is not a phenomenon that occurs only among young people. On the contrary, adults send such pictures much more often.

What can be problematic?

Basically, sexting is not a bad thing: it can be a proof of love, an attempt to impress your crush or simply testing your own impact. However, a fundamental problem arises: relationships between people change. Trust is not always a given. You can’t know what will happen to your own images. For example, images that were sent consensually and in confidence may then be forwarded to others without being asked or without consent.
So sexting itself is not bad, but the misuse of the images by other people is the problem – and can also be punishable. Young people whose images are used are the victims in this case. They are not to be condemned at all.

How can parents deal with this?

Educate your child about sexting. Speak frankly and respect privacy yourself of your child. In this way, you can support your child in using digital media safely and responsibly. Help your child develop healthy self-esteem and encourage him or her to confide in an adult if he or she has been harassed, threatened, or a victim of sexting abuse. If this ever happens: Help your child report the abuse and have the relevant material deleted, Explain to your child that he or she did nothing wrong. At www.safer-sexting.de you and your child can get extensive information about what is allowed when sexting, what to watch out for, what to urgently refrain from and where to get support.


“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.

Music live streams on YouTube

On stage or canned, pressed on vinyl or available digitally – music accompanies us throughout our lives in the most diverse forms. Currently in vogue: music as livestream, on YouTube or on other platforms. For young people, this is a popular way to listen to their favorite music and stay in touch with others at the same time.

What is special about the livestream?

At first glance, it looks a bit like a return to linear television: Music is broadcast live – and users have the option of clicking in and listening along if they want. They do not select the songs themselves individually, but call up a playlist that someone has compiled for them.

In fact, there are also many similarities – but also differences – to VIVA, MTV and Co. or 1990s:

  • Livestreams can be offered on many platforms, for example on Twitch and Instagram , Facebook or YouTube . While livestreams on social networks tend to be used for conversations, such as interviews, YouTube is home to news, gaming, and interviews, as well as many music streams.
  • In principle, any user can offer a livestream. YouTube requires a minimum number of followers and the function must first be activated – so the first livestream needs to be prepared.
  • Then you’re ready to go. Livestream providers use their webcam, external recording devices, or prepared files on their hard drive to livestream. Users can listen, chat or comment at the same time.
  • There is no time limit for the streams. After the live broadcast, however, only streams under 12 hours will remain available on the platform.

Livestreams are indeed very popular among users: 30 percent of YouTube users in a global study by Datareport in 2022 said they watch at least one livestream per week.

Music and community: two birds with one stone for children and young people

For children and young people, the livestream serves two important needs at once. On the one hand, they can get their favorite music here and get inspired. Depending on their tastes and the situation, they will always find the right offer – such as the hits of the year for the New Year’s Eve party or LoFi channels.(LoFi stands for “low fidelity” and refers to music recorded with simple technical devices that are a popular acoustic accompaniment for learning). At the same time, the live chat offers them the possibility of a parallel exchange with their circle of friends, with other listeners or with the creators of the stream. That’s how they find connection and community – and people with similar tastes in music.

Children and young people with their own profile can also offer livestreams themselves. In this way, they become creative themselves, share and express themselves.

Everything great? If you follow the rules!

So, on the whole, livestreams seem to be a good deal for music lovers of all kinds. In principle, minors may only use YouTube with the permission of their parents. The use of YouTube is permitted in Germany from a minimum age of 16 years. From the age of 13, parents can allow their children to use the Family Link.

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to live music streams – and they’re something parents should definitely address before releasing their kids into the vastness of YouTube:

  • For one thing, streams – of course – cost a lot of data volume. If you have a stable WLAN at home, you don’t have to worry much about this. For cell phone contracts with limited options, it is important to make it clear to children and teens that continuous streaming throughout the month is more likely not an option.
  • Secondly, although chat offers opportunities for interesting contacts, it should also be enjoyed with caution. As in other chats, forums or networks, you never know who you are dealing with. Parents should therefore make their children aware of the risks of communication on the Internet. Detailed information on this can be found in these Parents’ Guide articles: Teenagers’ Communication on the Net, Communication Risks on the Net, and Cybergrooming.
  • There are no age labels for music. In some music genres, like gangster rap, things get verbally violent. In some songs, for example, there is misogynistic content, glorification of crime, violence or drugs. Stay engaged in conversation with your child about his or her favorite music and point out boundaries for inappropriate content.
  • Finally, the same applies to young people who want to become active themselves: The same rules apply here as for other social media use. Copyright and personal rights must also be respected in the livestream. You may only use music or images to which you have all rights. For example, self-made music or music under a CC license.

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.

How to protect your child’s data

When it comes to using the Internet, the topic of data privacy always comes up. Because many apps collect the data of the users. But what is actually behind it and what should you pay attention to as a parent?


Data protection refers to the protection of personal data. This is all the data that relates to a specific person, such as their full name, date of birth, their phone number, etc.

Data protection is a fundamental right in the European Union. Every person has the right to decide what happens to their own data. All companies that use and process such data must ensure that it is not simply disseminated. But also each person himself should pay attention to what data is circulating about him.

Once information has been spread on the net, it can be misused. The best way to protect your own data is to use online media sparingly. Think carefully about what data you disclose about yourself and your children online. Without us realizing it, we leave data traces, for example by using a messenger and other apps as well as by surfing the web.

How we leave data traces

There are privacy statements for the use of apps and platforms that state what data is collected and for what purpose. After uploading or during registration, each and every user agrees to them. Applications access certain functions of the user’s own smartphone or tablet for this purpose. But we also voluntarily disclose information about ourselves by uploading and publishing videos, photos, and so on.

Therefore, it is important to disable certain app permissions when the application is not in use or does not require access to individual functions. In our article on this topic, you will learn what to look out for.

In the coming weeks, we will take a closer look at the individual functions and app permissions here at Parents’ Guide. You’ll learn when location access can be problematic, what to look for when enabling Bluetooth, and more.

Password protection and two-factor verification

An essential requirement for protecting the data on one’s smartphone or access to applications by others is a good password. In our article “Safe is Safe: Passwords on the Net” you will learn everything you need to know.

Two-factor verification requires another confirmation in addition to a password. This can be, for example, a numerical code that is displayed on your smartphone via an app. This way, only the person who both knows the password and is in possession of your smartphone has access. You quickly get used to the extra step and the added security is worth it.


Data protection is also important when sending messages via messenger or e-mail. When a message is encrypted, the content can no longer be read. Only with the appropriate key can the message be recovered. This can be compared to a letter that has a lock on it. Only the person with the right key can open the letter to read what is inside. So if a third person gets hold of the message, they can’t do anything with the message without the key. Therefore, it makes sense to use services that work with encryption. For websites, you can tell from the address whether the connection is encrypted. Whenever there is an “s” after the “http” (i.e. “https://…) it means that the connection is encrypted. You can read more about encryption here.

What else can you do to ensure safe smartphone use for your child?

Smartphones come with some features to make chatting, surfing the web and using apps safer for your child. Nevertheless, these settings on the device or even parental control apps do not replace the supervision of you as a parent. Your child should always understand why certain websites or apps should be blocked or why GPS tracking should remain disabled. Also, always base your control and safety on your child’s age and development. Young people can better and more independently assess how to protect devices and their own data than children with their first own cell phone. Especially with teens, don’t intrude too much on your child’s privacy. However, always try to stay in conversation with your child and be there as a contact person in case of questions or uncertainties. Here you can find more tips on how to make your child’s smartphone safer.

The appeal of voicemail

When young people on the street hold their cell phones in their hands much like a sandwich or talk excitedly into the air with headphones, it’s hardly surprising: they’re probably recording a voice message. This is also a popular way for families to stay in touch with each other in their often busy daily lives or over long distances.

How do voice messages work?

Almost every messenger has the function to record voice messages. To do this, press and hold the microphone to the right of the text field within a chat or group and speak the message into the smartphone. After releasing the microphone button, the voice message is automatically sent to the selected person. This can listen to the message as many times as desired and also pause in between.

Voice is usually a better way to express how a message is meant. Does the voice sound angry, perhaps? Or is someone making a joke? The spoken voice can replace the emojis of a text message and make the message more authentic. With a voice message, there is more scope to express and communicate thoughts and feelings to others in less time than typing.

Why are voice messages so popular?

The advantages of this type of communication are the low effort and time savings that voice messages bring. On the road, for example, you can quickly ask in the family chat at the supermarket with shopping bag in hand what is needed for dinner. Eternal typing or the planning of telephone calls, for which both conversation partners must have time at the same time, are eliminated.

Voice messages can also help keep in touch with friends or family members who live farther away. Using your own voice is a quick and uncomplicated way to make it clear that you are thinking of each other.

Are there any disadvantages of voice messages?

Voice messages can also be annoying: Some people use them because they don’t feel like typing long texts. With voicemail, some get into the talking and don’t really have anything important to share. Instead, you get minutes of audio. Not always the received persons are able to listen to a voice message. While text messages can be read, voice messages must be listened to again in order to comprehend what may be important information. This is especially annoying with long audios.

Voice messages are sometimes sent faster than intended as soon as the microphone icon is released. Many messenger apps now offer the option of listening to the recorded message before sending it and checking whether it should really go out that way.

Attention should also be paid to

When recording and listening to voice messages, people in the vicinity should not feel disturbed. A text message can be read and typed silently – this does not apply to voice messages. Therefore, care should also be taken to ensure that when a voice message is played, not everyone can simply listen in. To avoid eavesdropping, many young people play the messages very quietly and hold the speaker of their smartphone very close to their ear. What may look a bit strange at first glance is a way to use voice messaging in public as well.

When recording voice messages, loud noises such as road noise or wind can interfere. Sometimes it also happens that you accidentally close the microphone, which means that the recipient cannot hear what is being recorded. Be aware that voice messages are a convenient option, but can never replace face-to-face exchanges. Make an agreement within the family and also with other people for which messages and in which situations audios are suitable and when not.

Algospeak – the secret language on social media?

Under posts or in short videos on TikTok, Instagram & Co. they can be read more and more often: Terms in cryptic spellings, such as “Seggs” or “d1ck. If you say the words out loud to yourself, you usually know immediately what is meant. But what is it all about?

Tricking the artificial intelligence

Changing the spelling of certain words, abbreviations or inventing completely new vocabulary is used by users to circumvent the algorithm. Because the algorithm automatically removes illegal content but also terms related to porn and sex. Very special TikTok or the company behind it, ByteDance, is accused of censorship on the platform: Videos with certain content, e.g. from queer people, are suppressed.

The term Algospeak is composed of “algo”, as an abbreviation of algorithm, and “speak”, the English word for “to speak”. Algospeak is constantly changing as the platforms keep adjusting their algorithm.

The universal language on the Internet is English. Many users from Germany mix German or other languages with English online. Therefore, the algorithm cannot distinguish certain terms. For example, the English “dick” is censored, even if nothing offensive is meant by it in German. Thus, it happens that even harmless content is deleted.

How can parents deal with this?

Algospeak not only serves to circumvent possible censorship, thereby making many different voices and opinions visible. People who manipulate opinions and spread hatred can also use them to circumvent technical hurdles and laws. If you notice that Algospeak is used to disguise hate speech and insults, be sure to report such cases. Make your child aware of this feature as well.

As a parent, don’t be surprised if you come across unusual spellings on social media. This doesn’t have to mean that your child can’t spell. Get an explanation if you don’t understand something, and also explain to your child if he or she wonders about funny spellings.

So Algospeak is not a real secret language – at most for the algorithm.


Snapchat is a free messenger for sending photos and short videos. The special feature: the funny selfie with the bunny ears or similar pictures “disappear” from the recipient’s smartphone after a short time.

In a nutshell:

  • free messenger app for Android or iOS
  • Paid version with additional features: Snapchat+
  • Features: share creative pictures, videos, funny emojis and filters with friends
  • According to provider from 13 years allowed (according to DSGVO from 16 years)
  • Various contact risks, including the location function that enables tracking of one’s whereabouts

What is Snapchat?

With Snapchat, photos and short videos can be sent to contacts as messages or stories. These snaps are only visible for a certain time and “self-destruct” afterwards. The photos and videos can be edited with countless filters. With the “Memories” function, users can also save certain content. In addition to private stories from friends, there is also content from stars and brands. The “Spotlight” function also allows creative short videos to be posted in the TikTok -style. Users can be found via the so-called “Snap Codes” and via their cell phone number if this is activated in the settings. The own profile contains only pictures and videos, other personal information is not provided. With the map function “Snap Map” you can see where your contacts are at the moment.

Snapchat+ offers a few more features, but so far (as of October 2022) they are rather gimmicky, e.g. selecting different app icons for the phone screen or tagging a very best friend.

What particularly fascinates children and young people about Snapchat?

The app is one of the most popular applications among teenagers aged 13 and older. Teenagers are very fond of using Snapchat to share with their friends. For this purpose, images and videos are simply sent instead of text. The use of fun filters, videos that can be accompanied by music, and the fact that the messages disappear again after a short time is what makes the app so appealing. Snapchat seems more youthful and playful than, for example. Instagram . Communication via Snapchat seems more private to young people, as content is only shared with individuals or in groups here. On the “Snap Map”, people are represented as avatars, which is why it looks like a game.

What can be problematic about Snapchat?

All content on Snapchat doesn’t actually self-destruct, it just can’t be accessed after a certain amount of time. Theoretically, they can be recovered on the device with some technical know-how. Or a screenshot is simply taken – the sender of the image is informed about this, however. Nevertheless, it can be problematic when children and young people send very personal – perhaps even intimate – pictures and videos of themselves and these may be used against them, for example, via cyberbullying. Due to the large amount of content sent, it is difficult to control it. Children and young people should therefore know exactly how to use the reporting and blocking function. This is especially useful in the case of unwanted contact. This is one of the reasons why the “Snap Map” function should be viewed critically.

Certain content can also be problematic for young people. This includes images that are not age-appropriate as well as inappropriate advertising or snaps of brands and products.

What does the provider think?

Users must abide by the rules of the Snap platform. The use of Snapchat is allowed to teenagers from 13 years only with the permission of their parents. However, there is no technical verification of the age information.

In general, it is prohibited to distribute or advertise adult content, such as pornographic images. Minors are not allowed to post or send nude pictures or sexually provocative content of themselves. Security issues can be reported within the service’s German-language security center. It is also possible to block and report other users. So-called content managers check violations of Snapchat policies.

Snapchat collects a lot of data from its users and explains this very openly in its privacy policy – even that data is sometimes passed on to third parties. The data that you send via Snapchat is encrypted during transmission.

What should parents pay attention to?

Handysektor offers a good overview of how to use Snapchat safely. Snapchat ‘sFamily Center gives parents an overview of their child’s activities on the app. However, to connect to the child’s account, a separate Snapchat account is required.

If your child is eager to use the app, be sure to talk about potential dangers. Regulate who can see the shared content and who can’t. Go through the settings together. Explain to yours that sent images can be saved via screenshot by the recipient. It is strongly recommended that teens only add friends to their list that they actually know.

Also talk about the Snap Map function: What does making your location visible mean, what are the consequences and risks involved, and is the function even needed? Location sharing can also happen unconsciously (when opening the app). This can be prevented in the so-called “ghost mode” (Ghost Mode). It is also possible to revoke the app’s permission to access the location. If a friend of your child uses Snapchat+, special care should be taken to disable the tracking feature or block the person.

BeReal – Your friends for real

“I can’t right now – I have to do a BeReal!” It may have sounded like this or similar in your home for some time. The social media app BeReal wants to be different and inspires with its unusual concept: spontaneous snapshots from everyday life instead of staged pictures and videos. BeReal is one of the most downloaded apps in 2022.

In brief

  • Free social media photo app for Android and iOS
  • Age rating: from 12 years (no verification of the age statement)
  • Advertising-free
  • Requires registration with name, date of birth and phone number
  • Problematic: collection of personal data, lack of data encryption, handling of personal rights

How does BeReal work?

BeReal translates as “Be real!”. Once a day, users receive a request from the app to take a photo of themselves in their current situation. The exact time is unknown, varies from day to day and goes out to all users at the same time.

Within two minutes, a photo must then be taken and published simultaneously with the front and rear cameras. The two photos are displayed as picture-in-picture. Other images from the photo gallery cannot be uploaded. Within the given two minutes, you also have to decide whether the image will be shared only with your friends or publicly in the discovery feed. Once the photo is uploaded, the photos of friendly contacts are also viewable. If an image is uploaded at a later time, it will be marked “Late”. The posted recordings will automatically delete from the feed after 24 hours. On certain days, BeReal calls out special challenges.

There are no filters or image editing in the app and no videos can be recorded. Likes cannot be assigned either, and one’s follower count is not publicly visible. Instead, there’s another unusual feature: reacting to other people’s posts with emojis or so-called RealMojis. This can be used to send personalized grimaces and greetings.

Public photos can be seen at any time. Friends can be found and added via synchronization with your own contacts or by searching for usernames. Profiles from the public feed can also be added.

What excites young people about the app?

New apps are interesting for young users when they are different. That’s why BeReal is fascinating for teenagers with its new and unusual features. It’s exciting and thrilling because the push message can come at any time. Then spontaneously and under time pressure, a photo must be made – without many attempts and without filters. As long as the app is new and still unfamiliar to many adults, it is particularly attractive to young people because it can set them apart.

What can be problematic about BeReal?

From the young people’s point of view, it won’t always be easy to comply with the app’s request because they won’t be able to pull out their phones at any time while at school. For some, the pressure exerted by the push message can be uncomfortable or lead to rashly taking and posting photos in private situations. There can also be social pressure to take photos that are exciting without filters and image editing, and then receive positive comments and reactions accordingly.

When registering on BeReal, personal data such as name or telephone number are collected. In addition, the IP address is stored and data is transmitted unencrypted. If access to the user’s own address book is permitted, the app providers can also access the data of non-BeReal users without being asked. There is a block function for third-party contacts in the Android app (as of September 2022) – but not yet for iOS.

The posted photos can also show other people who were not able to look over the consequences fast enough in the unexpected photo situation and then end up in the app’s public feed. Photos can also be saved and redistributed unnoticed by others via screenshot.

Behind the app is a French company with the same name: BeReal. On its website, BeReal explains the terms of use and the handling of data (privacy policy), but only in English and French.

What should parents pay attention to?

If your child is interested in the app, you should also take a closer look at BeReal – it’s best to do this together. Talk to your child about potential communication risks associated with using the app. Agree beforehand which photos may be published there, so that your child can react consciously in the pressure situation.

The app accesses many functions of the smartphone, some of which are unfounded, such as microphone and location. Check the app permissions immediately after registration and consider together with your child which accesses are necessary and useful. It is best to set the account to private so that only people in the friends list can see the posted pictures. Discuss with your child that they should only add people as friends that they actually know.

Regularly ask about your child’s usage experience and always be responsive to problems.

Popular games: Lost Ark

Mysterious stories, enchanting castles in the air, magical creatures and epic battles – if you want to be a heroine or hero in a fictional fantasy world and save it from demonic attacks, Lost Ark is the right choice for you. Amazon Games online game is very popular among teenagers. Here you can find out what it’s all about!

In brief

  • Age rating (according to USK): 16 years and older
  • different game modes, e.g. as a single player or in a team
  • free game
  • includes in-game purchases
  • only playable online on Windows PC

What is Lost Ark?

The Lost Ark game is a so-called MMORPG. This abbreviation stands for “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game” and means that players can take on different roles online, share a world and play together with strangers or friends. In Lost Ark, the game is played from the perspective of a hero or heroine. The main mission (also called quest) is to protect the fantasy world from demons. This is achieved by the hero or heroine collecting the lost arks (“Lost Arks”). There are five types of characters: Warrior, Martial Artist, Cannoneer, Mage or Assassin. Players can freely create up to twelve characters, play them in turn, and gradually expand them. If you don’t feel like doing the main quests, you can switch to the side quests and fight against other game ends in arenas, hunt monsters in groups of friends or improve your characters and their equipment.

What fascinates young people about Lost Ark?

Lost Ark is about heroines and heroes, demons and conquests – many young people are enthusiastic about such stories. The imaginative design with its diverse and detailed play world offers youngsters plenty of room for discovery. Thanks to the freely-creatable characters, youngsters can let their imagination run wild, collect different equipment and customize their characters with different skins.

Lost Ark offers teens a wealth of gaming opportunities. If you don’t feel like doing quests, you can explore dungeons, go on adventures or fight other players in the arena.

What can be problematic about the game?

The game contains depictions of violence that may overwhelm persons under the age of 16.

Lost Ark is a free game and thus completely playable without the use of real money. In the game is traded with crystals. Those who successfully complete quests receive crystals for them. There are also various paid starter packs that grant access to more crystals, better equipment and temporary bonuses. These purchased advantages cause game players to progress faster. Lost Ark is therefore accused of being a so-called PTW game (pay-to-win). Only after playing the main quests from level 50 on, the fight against the strongest, the so-called boss opponents, really starts. This can tempt youngsters, especially in the early stages, to make in-game purchases to reach higher levels faster.

Gamers can use the in-game chat to exchange information while playing Lost Ark. Here, contact may be made by strangers, which is associated with risks such as cybergrooming.

What does the provider think?

The provider of the game is Amazon Games. By playing Lost Ark and using the Lost Ark website, the Amazon Privacy Notice applies.

Amazon Gaming provides the ability to report gamers who cheat, harass, or otherwise violate the Code of Conduct.

Amazon Games and Lost Ark operators are active on Twitter and their websete, where information such as server issues and new updates are shared.

What should parents pay attention to?

Lost Ark is not suitable for children and younger teenagers due to the depictions of violence and the age rating by USK and PEGI. Basically, as a parent you should take the official age restrictions of the youth media protection seriously. Always choose media content based on your child’s age and developmental level. The USK has cleared the game for ages 16 and up, since fights and violent confrontations take place within the storyline. The pan-European age rating system PEGI has even approved the game only from 18 years old, because the game contains violence, such as the gratuitous killing of innocent characters.

Lost Ark tempts you to make in-game purchaseswith the use of real money. Talk with your child about if and when he or she may purchase items. If your child downloaded Lost Ark via Steam you can restrict certain features of Lost Ark, such as in-game purchases, in Family View. With it, you’ll be able to let your child play Lost Ark without fear of accidental costs.

Talk to your child about responsible use of online chats and what risks are involved. If strangers want to contact your child, he or she should be careful not to share personal information. Make it clear to your child that he or she can turn to you at any time when confronted with unpleasant or frightening content.

The captivating game world allows your child to quickly forget about time. As a parent, you should make sure that your child does not overexert himself while playing. Together with your child, determine when and for how long he or she may play. Agree together when and if you (need to) control media time.

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