The Internet, especially social networks, floods us daily with countless news, messages and stories. In the process, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between truth and deception. Teaching children how to recognize false information on the Internet is a real challenge. This article offers practical advice on how to deal with disinformation and false news on the Internet and how to talk to your child about it.
The many news items, reports and stories that we encounter every day usually come from television programs, daily newspapers, people in our environment or well-known personalities. Many are spread by lesser-known people on the Internet and through messenger services like WhatsApp. However, the senders also include websites and people who intentionally spread lies or half-truths in order to cause confusion. They deliberately spread disinformation, rumors, or even hateful messages designed to stir up insecurity and deliberately deceive us.
It is not only difficult for children and young people to distinguish trustworthy news from fake news. Because often these fake news are so skillfully made that at first glance they look like serious news . This can be problematic, especially when it comes to political contributions with an extremist or populist background or when conspiracy theories are spread. Content that can unsettle or frighten younger children in particular is also problematic. Deep fake videos in particular look deceptively real. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize the differences between disinformation, false news and satire.
Disinformation spreads especially when people are insecure anyway and even experts or politicians do not have answers to all questions – such as during the Corona crisis and the Ukraine war. Fake news often provides the answers you want and can help deal with uncertainty. Unfortunately, they are not true. Questions like “Are the vaccines safe, too?” or “Where does the virus come from?” are answered with inappropriate numbers and false facts. The problem with this is that the more often such articles are clicked on, the more often they are displayed – and people believe them to be true. That’s why it’s important to realize that not everything you read is necessarily true.
Determining whether it is indeed a hoax can be a tricky task. Therefore, it is helpful to follow clear steps to curb the spread of disinformation:
Check where the message came from and who wrote it. Is the author known and expert on the subject? Is it a reputable website?
Try to verify the message with different sources. Ask yourself how up-to-date the information is and check where the figures and data mentioned come from as well as the context in which they were collected.
Pay attention to the way the message is presented. Is the language serious and factual, or is emotional language and excessive capitalization used? Does the article contain catchwords such as “lying press” or similar provocative terms? Could the article be meant satirically?
Make sure photos and videos match the message and are up-to-date. Pay attention to captions and whether they actually represent what is being described or are from another context.
Discuss news and messages together as a family. Your child should understand that not everything on the Internet or sent via WhatsApp does not have to be true. If you check messages together, it can gradually learn to distinguish true from false. Ask for your child’s opinion and share your own thoughts. This will help you and your child be more confident and prepared to recognize and counter disinformation and fake news on the Internet.
Fake news spreads especially when many people forward or share it. Therefore, you should always consider whether a message can really be true. Here are some tips on where to check Fake News and how you and your child can learn to deal with it in a fun way:
The most popular messenger, even among children and teenagers, is WhatsApp. This is because communication is practical and easy, and many other people use it. Unfortunately, there are a few negative sides to the popular service.
WhatsApp is a free messenger. Registration requires a cell phone number and access to contacts’ phone numbers. After that, profile picture and profile name can be assigned.
The main function of WhatsApp is to send messages to people from your own contacts (address book) who also use the app. These can be text and voice messages, photos, videos, files, contacts as well as your own location. They can be sent to individuals or a whole group. Individual and group calls as well as video telephony are also possible. Among teenagers, sending emojis and GIFs is especially popular. They can also respond to individual messages with emojis. Self-deleting messages can be sent, which automatically disappear from the device after seven days. And there is the possibility to send photos and videos, which may be viewed only once and then disappear.
Via WhatsApp it is only possible to contact someone whose number you have. When receiving a message from an unknown number, the contact can be controlled using the “add” or “block” buttons. Calls from unknown numbers can be muted.
With the chat lock function, selected chats can be made virtually invisible. These then only appear in a certain category and are protected by a code, Face ID or fingerprint.
Young people like to use the app because it allows them to quickly get in touch with acquaintances and family members, since almost everyone uses WhatsApp. Teachers and classmates in class chats, grandparents as well as friends in other countries are just a click away. Users can exchange information with their contacts and see when they were last online. Via the profile picture and the so-called status they can share impressions from their life (similar to Instagram). Fast communication via voice messages is particularly popular among young people.
Especially the read receipt function (two blue check marks on a message) can put young people under pressure to always reply directly. Even though hundreds of messages are sometimes exchanged daily in a class chat, this can overwhelm and stress children and young people. In addition, fakenews is often spread via class chats. Pictures and messages are sent quickly. There is a risk that personal data, pictures and videos will be carelessly shared, redistributed or used for bullying. Also dubious sweepstakes, Chain letters or misleading notifications can be problematic – before all, even sexting.
Since there are hardly any privacy settings on WhatsApp, users have to be careful themselves about what content they send or post in their status. They should only be ones that everyone is allowed to read or see.
In addition, WhatsApp accesses a lot of information about the users, e.g., the entire contact list in the cell phone. This is how foreign contact data gets to WhatsApp and other people without being asked.
WhatsApp offers so-called “channels” under “News”. This is a type of group chat in which only the person who created it can write something. Channels are used by celebrities, influencers and companies to stay in touch with their target groups and fans. However, be careful: messages, images and videos that are not suitable for children and young people may also appear on channels.
WhatsApp, just like Instagram , belongs to the Meta group (formerly Facebook). The GTCs in force since 2021 inform that user data will also be passed on to companies for advertising purposes.
Certain security settings are supposed to improve the usage: People or phone numbers can be blocked; location tracking and read receipts can be deactivated. Users can limit the visibility of their own profile. Messages are exchanged in encrypted form, so they cannot be easily “hacked” by strangers. However, this only works in individual messages and when the backup – i.e. the data backup – is deactivated.
In early 2022, WhatsApp announced that group administrators will be able to delete messages from others. This function has not yet been implemented.
If your child is younger than 16, you must consent to their use of WhatsApp. Make sure your child uses Messenger responsibly. Explain to your child how they can protect their personal information. You should not share sensitive data or photos with unknown people
Help your child understand the privacy settings and configure them correctly… This can be done in the app itself or in the access rights management in the Android or iOS operating system (in each case under Settings). In the app, under the category “Privacy”, you can set who sees what and whether or not you want to be invited to groups by strangers. It may happen that certain functions can no longer be used if certain accesses are denied. The Privacy Check function gives a good overview of the settings. At www.medien-kindersicher.de there are Video instructions on how to safely set WhatsApp on your child’s smartphone.
Talk to your children about communication risks and how they can protect themselves from them. Encourage them to let you know right away if they feel they are not being treated right or are being bullied.
Encourage your child to only contact people they know in real life. Warn against adding unknown contacts. Also, be mindful of your child’s privacy and give your child the space he or she needs. Set a good example yourself by being responsible and respectful with your own digital activities.
Snapchat ist ein kostenfreier Messenger zum Versenden von Fotos und kurzen Videos. Die Besonderheit: Das lustige Selfie mit den Hasenohren oder ähnliche Bilder „verschwinden“ nach kurzer Zeit vom Bildschirm des Empfängers.
Mit Snapchat können Fotos und kurze Videos als Nachricht oder als Story an Kontakte versendet werden. Diese Snaps, also Schnappschüsse, sind nur für bis zu 24 Stunden sichtbar und „zerstören“ sich danach selbst. Die Fotos und Videos können mit unzähligen Filtern bearbeitet werden. Mit der „Memorys-Funktion“ können Nutzerinnen bestimmte Inhalte abspeichern. Neben den privaten Storys von Freunden gibt es Inhalte von Stars und Marken. Über die Funktion „Spotlight” lassen sich außerdem kreative Kurzvideos im TikTok-Stil veröffentlichen. Userinnen können über sogenannte „Snap Codes“ sowie über ihre Handynummer gefunden werden, wenn dies in den Einstellungen aktiviert ist. Das eigene Profil enthält nur Bilder und Videos, andere persönliche Angaben werden nicht gemacht. Mit der Kartenfunktion „Snap Map“ kann man sehen, wo sich die eigenen Kontakte gerade aufhalten.
Wer Snapchat nutzt, ist seit Februar 2023 automatisch mit dem Chatbot My AI befreundet. Dahinter steckt eine künstliche Intelligenz, die Fragen beantwortet, chattet und insgesamt wie ein „echter“ Freund daherkommt. Für die Nutzerinnen kann das ein nettes Spielzeug sein – ist jedoch auch mit Vorsicht zu genießen. Löschen lässt sich der Chatbot nur sehr umständlich und mit einem kostenpflichtigen Snapchat+-Abonnement.
Snapchat+ bietet für 4,49 Euro/Monat die Premium-Version, dort testen die Anbieter noch nicht veröffentlichte Features. Besonders für Kinder und Jugendliche ist das reizvoll: Es gibt mehr Optionen, den eigenen Avatar (genannt „BitMoji“) zu gestalten, und mehr Informationen über Freundeskonstellationen als mit einem regulären Snapchat-Konto.
Die App gehört zu den beliebtesten Anwendungen bei Jugendlichen ab 13 Jahren. Teenager nutzen Snapchat sehr gern, um sich mit ihren Freundinnen auszutauschen. Dazu werden statt Text einfach Bilder und Videos versendet. Die Nutzung der Spaßfilter, Videos, die mit Musik unterlegt werden können, und selbst verschwindende Nachrichten machen den Reiz der App aus. Snapchat wirkt jugendlicher und verspielter als z. B. Instagram. Die Kommunikation erscheint Jugendlichen privater, da nur mit einzelnen oder in Gruppen Inhalte ausgetauscht werden. Auf der „Snap Map“ werden Personen als Avatare dargestellt, weshalb sie wie ein Spiel wirkt.
Alle Inhalte auf Snapchat zerstören sich nicht wirklich selbst, sondern sie lassen sich nach einer bestimmten Zeit nur nicht mehr aufrufen. Mit etwas technischem Know-how sind sie auf dem Gerät wiederherzustellen. Oder es wird einfach ein Screenshot gemacht – darüber wird der Versender des Bildes allerdings informiert. Trotzdem kann es problematisch werden, wenn Kinder und Jugendliche sehr persönliche – vielleicht sogar intime – Bilder und Videos von sich versenden und diese z. B. über Cybermobbing gegen sie verwendet werden. Durch die Vielzahl der versendeten Inhalte ist die Kontrolle darüber schwierig. Kinder und Jugendliche sollten daher genau wissen, wie sie die Melde- und Blockierfunktionen nutzen können. Das ist im Falle der unerwünschten Kontaktaufnahme besonders sinnvoll. Unter anderem deswegen ist auch die Funktion „Snap Map” kritisch zu sehen. Denn jedes Mal, wenn man Snapchat öffnet, wird auch die Snap Map aktualisiert. Und aus diesen Informationen lassen sich ziemlich viele Schlüsse ziehen wie Adresse, Schule oder Hobbys; auch von eher unbekannten Online-Freunden. Auch aus diesem Grund ist es wichtig, sich gut zu überlegen, wen man in den eigenen Kontakten aufnimmt.
Auch bestimmte Inhalte können für Jugendliche problematisch sein. Dazu zählen nicht altersgemäße Bilder ebenso wie unangemessene Werbung oder Snaps von Marken und Produkten.
Nutzende müssen sich an die Regeln der Plattform Snap halten. Die Nutzung von Snapchat ist Jugendlichen ab 13 Jahren nur mit der Erlaubnis ihrer Eltern gestattet. Es erfolgt allerdings keine technische Prüfung der Altersangabe.
Generell ist es verboten, nicht jugendfreie Inhalte, wie z. B. pornografische Bilder, zu verbreiten oder zu bewerben. Minderjährige dürfen keine Nacktbilder oder sexuell aufreizende Inhalte von sich posten oder versenden. Sicherheitsprobleme können innerhalb des deutschsprachigen Sicherheitscenters des Dienstes gemeldet werden. Außerdem ist es möglich, andere Nutzende zu blockieren und zu melden. Sogenannte Content-Manager prüfen Verstöße gegen die Snapchat-Richtlinien.
Snapchat sammelt jede Menge Daten von seinen Nutzern und erläutert das sehr offen in seinen Datenschutzbestimmungen – auch, dass Daten teilweise an Dritte weitergegeben werden. Die Daten, die man über Snapchat versendet, werden bei der Übertragung verschlüsselt. Über das Family Center können Eltern in der App verschiedene Kontrollfunktionen nutzen.
Über das Family Center von Snapchat erhalten Eltern Möglichkeiten über Kontrollfunktionen, z.B. einen Überblick zu den Aktivitäten ihres Kindes oder die Einrichtung von Inhaltskontrollen in der App. Um sich mit dem Konto des Kindes zu verbinden, wird allerdings ein eigener Snapchat-Account benötigt. Jugendliche müssen der Verbindung auch selbst zustimmen.
Wenn Ihr Kind die App gern nutzen möchte, sollten Sie unbedingt über mögliche Gefahren sprechen. Regeln Sie, wer die geteilten Inhalte sehen kann und wer nicht. Gehen Sie gemeinsam die Einstellungen durch. Erklären Sie Ihrem Kind, dass versendete Bilder per Screenshot vom Empfänger abgespeichert werden können. Es ist dringend zu empfehlen, dass Jugendliche nur Freundinnen und Freunde zu ihrer Liste hinzufügen, die sie tatsächlich kennen. Eine gute Übersicht zum sicheren Umgang mit Snapchat bietet Jugendlichen das Angebot Handysektor.
Sprechen Sie über die Funktion Snap Map: Was bedeutet die Sichtbarmachung des eigenen Standorts, welche Folgen und Risiken gehen damit einher und wird die Funktion überhaupt gebraucht? Das Teilen des Standortes kann auch unbewusst passieren (beim Öffnen der App). Dies kann im sogenannten „Geistmodus“ (Ghost Mode) verhindert werden. Auch kann der App die Berechtigung entzogen werden, auf den Standort zuzugreifen. Wenn eine Freundin Ihres Kindes Snapchat+ nutzt, sollte besonders darauf geachtet werden, die Tracking-Funktion zu deaktivieren oder die Person zu blockieren.
Twitter has been called X since July 2023. Not only the logo with the blue bird is passé, the American entrepreneur and new owner Elon Musk also wants to rebuild the platform concept. The popular social media offering is to become a multifunction app. After more than 15 years, this marks the end of the Twitter brand.
X works similarly to Facebook or Instagram, for example: A profile is created with personal information that others can follow. However, many users simply follow the postings of others. Famous personalities such as soccer players, female influencers, politicians or even journalists have the largest following. Companies and brands are also represented at X. In the “Follow Me” timeline, posts from subscribed channels appear chronologically. The “For You” feed shows content recommended by an algorithm. Unregistered readers can see posts, but cannot follow anyone directly.
Posts often consist of text only and are hashtagged. A maximum of 280 characters, i.e. letters, numbers, punctuation marks and symbols, can be used in one post. But also pictures, videos etc. can be sent and shared. Those who sign up for the X Blue premium subscription get advanced features such as post editing, longer messages with more characters, and fewer ads.
The peculiarity of X is that the short statements of mostly well-known people lead to discussions outside of X. US President Trump’s posts are a good example of this. The repost function also plays a role here. Posts are shared or referred to in a separate post. Discussions also often arise in the comments under the posts. In addition, direct messages can be written via a chat.
X is used relatively little by young people compared to other social media platforms. If they do, they are often politically interested and committed young people. But popular stars and musicians are also on X and post information about themselves.
The fascination around X is, on the one hand, the discussions, in which things sometimes go back and forth violently. On the other hand, some posts are sent out quickly and spontaneously. If you follow the posts at big events like soccer matches or elections, you get to see the reaction of the spectators live.
Personal information and statements are freely available to all. Through hashtags, posts that were actually intended for a small circle can suddenly be seen by very many users. Also, there is a risk that some users may try to contact your child with bad intentions.
If your child is under 18, you must agree to register with X. Make your child aware of how to report or block problematic content or people on X if needed. With the option to protect your own posts, they can be seen only by a selected circle. Explain to your child who may be able to see personal information and statements and what the consequences may be. Help your child understand and classify content on X by talking to them about how discussions can get heated and what other risks there are. If your child is interested in X or similar services, look at alternatives together, such as the decentralized microblogging platform Mastodon.
Who Snapchat is automatically friends with My AI since February 2023. Behind it is an artificial intelligence that answers questions, chats and overall comes across like a “real” friend. For users, this can be a nice toy – but it should also be used with caution.
My AI is based on Chat GPT . The chatbot has been publicly usable since November 2022 and offers a counterpart with whom you can talk almost like a person. The chatbot has a natural language answer to (almost) every question.
The Snapchat variant even seems a bit more “human”: you can personalize it, give it a name, and exchange texts or pictures with it. It is not only helpful in preparing a presentation, but can also find ways to predict the weather or comfort you in case of heartbreak.
My AI works very intuitively and straightforwardly – for children, communicating with a robot like with real friends can be very fascinating. Especially for a quick research or if a topic is on your mind and no one else has time to talk, My AI offers itself and is often really helpful. According to the provider, the AI chatbot has been adapted to give answers appropriate to the age of the user. Other chatbots do not necessarily have this function.
With all the personification of My AI, it can be hard for kids to realize that the chatbot is not a real person – nor can they build a friendship with it that goes beyond superficial chats.
In addition, the chatbot’s answers are often appropriate, but not always correct. It is sometimes difficult for children to distinguish what information they can rely on and where they need to be critical.
Also, kids should be careful about feeding the bot too much personal information – because Snapchat collects information and stores it too. The location is also queried and used to provide location-based recommendations (such as on restaurants, etc.). Note: Snapchat or My AI also accesses the location in ghost mode – if you don’t want to be ‘tracked’ at all, you have to disallow access to the location in general.
Snapchat itself states that My AI is primarily a useful information search tool – for quizzes, birthday gifts, or planning a hike. The provider certainly acknowledges that responses can also be “biased, false, harmful or misleading.” He therefore recommends only researching undisputed topics and points out that My AI is constantly being developed.
As a parent, be sure to discuss the offer with your child. In principle, there is nothing to be said against the use of chatbots – but with a certain amount of caution and an awareness of the limits of artificial intelligence.
It is best to try out My AI together and explain to your child in detail that My AI is a computer program and not a real person. Give him tips on how to deal with disinformation and verify information from other sources.
Talk to your child about how to handle their personal information online and determine together what private information is private and what your child should not share.
There are children and teenagers who spend a lot of time on TikTok spend. They watch short videos from others or produce their own TikToks. What exactly they look at there and publish themselves, many parents do not know and worry – also about the fact that their child can come into contact with strangers .
In response to criticism, TikTok introduced the “accompanied mode” for parental control back in 2020, which was revised again in 2023. This allows you, as the parent or guardian, to control how long the app can be used, whether private messages can be sent and received, and what content is displayed on the “For You” page. Click here for a detailed presentation of the app.
It’s understandable that you, as a parent, are concerned when your child is on social media platforms. Therefore, before using such apps, you should calmly talk to your child about what they are interested in. Explain your concerns to him and make him understand what risks there are in using it. If you are okay with your child using TikTok, ask regularly and stay interested. Let them show you what your child is doing there.
Often children are already interested in the app beforehand. If your child wants to use TikTok, consider whether they might watch TikTok videos without their own account first. Because this is possible via a browser!
If your child is allowed to create a TikTok account with your permission and you choose to use the Accompanied Mode set it up as follows:
TikTok must be installed on your child’s smartphone and on your own device. You can find the Accompanied Mode in the “Digital Wellbeing” settings under “Privacy and Settings”. On the parent’s device, clicking on it opens a QR code that is scanned with your child’s smartphone. By doing so, your child agrees that you, as the parent, may control its use. IMPORTANT: Talk to your child beforehand about the functions in accompanied mode and consider together what should be switched on and to what extent:
TikTok would like to establish a “TikTok Youth Advisory Board” during 2023 to engage with the community itself on how to further develop the app.
Note that there are other setting options in TikTok outside of Accompanied Modethat should definitely be enabled. For example, make sure the account is set to private so that your child’s videos can’t be seen by strangers. For users between the ages of 13 and 15, TikTok makes this setting automatically – but you should definitely talk to your child about what the advantage is and why they should leave it that way or set it that way themselves from 16.
As a parent, you cannot track what content is being viewed. They also cannot read messages or comments, so your child’s privacy is preserved as much as possible. If you trust your child and he or she is already able to use media consciously and safely, it is certainly nicer to be able to do without this control option. Regularly discuss with your child whether the settings still fit as they are, or whether you can change certain settings.
Minecraft is a kind of Lego for the computer or tablet, where you can create your own world from virtual blocks with a lot of creativity and skill.
The game world in Minecraft consists mainly of cubes or blocks. These are always the same size, but is procedurally generated and thus looks different in each run. The world in Minecraft is made of different materials, for example, wood or earth. In different modes, these cubes are used differently:
In creative mode, players combine these cubes and build houses, models, or even working computers. In this way, they create their very own world, which they shape creatively and change constantly. This function is now even used by schools for learning. The materials used do not have to be collected, they are directly available to the players and can be used infinitely.
In survival mode, thanks to the tools, players can fight monsters and hide at night in the hut they built themselves. The big difference to the creative mode here is that the materials have to be collected by yourself and additionally a hunger bar and life bar have to be managed. Also, many of the items, such as chests, swords, doors, stoves, etc. must first be made. The level of difficulty can be adjusted so that there is something for every age group. This can be adjusted at any time in the game menu.
Minecraft can be played online with others, or offline alone. The current version of the game is 1.20.1.
Despite the simple graphics, which consist only of large pixels, Minecraft is very popular among children from about ten years old. Minecraft sets no limits to creativity. Players can create their very own virtual world and get excited about constructing landscapes and buildings and acquiring the raw materials they need. Playing with others especially challenges competition and strategy, but creating worlds together can also be a lot of fun and requires that you coordinate with each other.
Minecraft is released by the USK from the age of six. How well children cope with the game depends, among other things, on the game mode they choose: While Creative and Adventure modes are easy to handle, Survival and Hardcore modes are more about defense and survival. Here you have to overcome obstacles such as encountering monsters, which brings a certain tension.
Since the game doesn’t set its own limits, e.g. through different levels, it tempts you to play endlessly and lose yourself completely in the virtual world. Also, the control of the game can be difficult for inexperienced.
Minecraft offers in-app purchases, e.g. via the “Minecraft Marketplace”, the “Minecraft Marketplace”. This is a platform where gamers can buy skins, mini-games and other content. One popular offering is PvP maps, where players compete against each other in game worlds according to the “player vs. player” principle. Such paid elements are appealing to kids and teens because they enhance the gaming experience.
Some paid offers are unsuitable for younger children, for example, the “Scary Mods”, which makes the game environment more exciting with creepy creatures, gloomy environments, eerie sounds and events.
Minecraft belongs to Microsoft. Auf der Webseite gibt es die Datenschutzerklärung und Nutzungsbedingungen auf Deutsch. Data is processed and used for product improvement and may also be shared.
The game is designed to encourage creativity and problem-solving skills. In Sweden, it’s even on the curriculum. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind as a parent:
Younger children should be accompanied while playing in the beginning and should rather use the creative mode or easier difficulty levels of the survival mode. For older children, the hardcore mode may come into question later.
As always with media use, keep an eye on how much time your child spends playing. Make sure to adhere to set media use times and discuss together as a family which modes your child is allowed to play. Make sure the content is age-appropriate and control what content your child is allowed to purchase and use. Some offers in the “marketplace” are not suitable for younger children.
Players can communicate with each other in Minecraft using the chat function. In the process, children are exposed to communication risks such as conflicts, cyberbullying, but also cybergrooming. Talk to your child about being respectful in chat, encourage them to block and report inappropriate messages. This way, your child can protect themselves from harassment. Explain to your child that he or she should not disclose personal information such as name and address in the chat.
Using the Parental Control feature of a Microsoft account, communication functions can be restricted to friends only or disabled completely. Access to in-game purchases can also be controlled via the control function.
The game was tested for accessibility as part of the Gaming without Borders project. In the areas of comprehension, control and hearing, Minecraft already does a lot right in terms of accessibility, according to the test results. The game is quite suitable for children and young people with impairments. However, some hurdles were identified in the “vision” area, making it difficult for people with visual impairments to use. However, Mojang as a developer studio is also interested and working to build accessibility.
Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp are used by many young people. All of these services offer a particularly popular function: the creation of so-called Stories. Snapchat had them first, but since Instagram, every teenager knows them.
The “Story” is for sharing current experiences with others. You don’t post a single photo in the chat or in your channel, but upload photos or videos in a story, which are displayed in an automatically running sequence. Subscribers or contacts can usually see them only for 24 hours.
You can decorate your story with all kinds of means – depending on your talent and taste. The apps mentioned above offer similar options here, such as captions, emojis, location markers, linking people, filters, funny stickers, or even polls.
Stories often seem very realistic or close to the lives of others. It can be especially exciting to see what’s going on with your favorite influencer and girlfriends. When you just experience something exciting or beautiful that you would like to share with your friends or followers, the story is a popular tool. Because with pictures and videos a little story can be told.
Since Stories deletes itself after 24 hours, the inhibition threshold is lower to publish rather unflattering, embarrassing and private pictures or videos of oneself. The rule here is: Think first, then post! Only pictures and clips that could easily be seen in the newspaper or on television should be published.
But the possibilities of the Story function can also endanger privacy: The location marker can be used to track where you are at any given time. Unpleasant or dangerous situations can quickly arise, for example, if someone comes to the linked location and seeks out your daughter or son.
Here it helps to agree on rules. Clear rules about what is posted and when create orientation. It doesn’t always have to be at the same moment that a photo is taken! Consider establishing cell phone-free zones with the family where family life can be spent undisturbed and private.
To protect privacy, make sure your (minor) child’s account is set to private. This way, his stories can only be seen by his own followers. It is best to create the user account together with your child, set up the privacy settings and check the security settings.
Talk openly about the potential dangers of careless posting so your child can understand rules of behavior. Your child will then know that you, as parents, are the first point of contact in the event of cyberbullying, harassment or disturbing content.
The content from the stories of your child’s favorite influencers and friends should also be critiqued. Talk to him about it and consider together how calculated a snapshot is likely to be among stars and influencers.
The cell phone raised in front of you and your lips twisted into a pout – this is what it can look like when young people in particular take a photo of themselves. This quickly ends up on WhatsApp, Instagram or Snapchat. Maybe a filter is put over it beforehand to make the colors shine more and you virtually put on bunny ears.
Young people in particular always have their smartphones in their pockets, and in any situation they can quickly whip them out to take a picture of themselves and their friends and capture the moment.
These self-portraits with the smartphone are very popular among young people. Selfies are used to put oneself in the limelight and to test one’s own effect on others. This desire on the part of young people in the midst of their personal development is nothing unusual or new. But smartphones and social media make it especially easy. The most beautiful pictures are published on Instagram & Co. – in the hope that as many people as possible will like them. From this you can see your own popularity and attractiveness. But there are other reasons to take selfies. Young people can be creative and have fun posing together. It is not uncommon for selfies to be taken simply out of boredom.
And if truth be told, many adults also take selfies to show how you’re feeling, what you’re doing, and where you are. Selfies are a great way to capture memories and share yourself with others.
It becomes problematic when an excessive amount of photos are taken or erotic selfies are posted. Young people copy this from influencers or other people. If you notice this in your child, he or she may be looking for attention. Self-dramatization is increasingly taking place digitally. Children and young people can get the feeling that they have to present themselves and constantly show what they are experiencing. Especially erotic pictures that end up on the net can damage your child’s reputation. You as parents should counteract this by staying in conversation with him! Make it clear to your child that once anything ends up on the web, it can’t be properly deleted and you have no control over where and how images spread.
There are situations or places where selfies are not appropriate. Posing at a memorial site, for example, is not very tactful. You should also talk to your child about this and set a good example yourself. This also applies to the protection of personal rights when other people are visible on the selfie. They must agree to be photographed and published.
Self-dramatization and self-presentation are important topics in adolescence, as this is how children and young people come to terms with themselves. It’s important that they try out – this can also be in the form of selfies! Accompany your child in this process and, if necessary, also show him the downsides of this trend phenomenon. Very personal pictures do not belong on the web and some experiences are much nicer as memories.
In the following video, our media educator Björn Schreiber answers a father’s question about his daughter’s self-promotion on Instagram:
Do you think of folk music from the Alps when you hear “yodel”? Then you’re just off the mark. Yodel is a social media app with the distinction of anonymously sharing text messages with a local community. The name Yodel reflects the basic principle of the social media app: Yodel is used as if something is being called from the mountain to the valley.
Anyone who wants to sign up for Yodel needs a Google account, an email address or a cell phone number. The app only works with access to the device location. Users register by specifying their gender, age and group characteristics, such as student or trainee.
Yodel offers the following functions:
Yodel offers the usual social media features like hashtags, reactions, emojis and favorites. Some features are only available against purchase of the offer Yodel PLUS , such as certain background colors for the posts or advertising freedom.
What distinguishes Yodel from other social media services is that there are no profiles, no friends and no followers, and all posts are anonymized. Yodel offers various functions for interacting with each other: users can report inappropriate posts, rate content and collect so-called “karma” points depending on their rating and activities.
“My boyfriend wants to leave me. What should I do?” – “Go a cowboy to the barber. Does he go out, bangs gone”. Many young people are active on Yodel. Young people appreciate the offer because they can post anything that comes into their head without any constraints. From profound questions to funny incidents, everything is included. Here they can find themselves and their interests and can exchange information anonymously and at the same time very personally. Comments and reviews give them recognition and make them feel connected to the local community.
Yodel only works if access to the device location is allowed. Having the GPS signal on the mobile device on all the time has disadvantages for data protection and battery performance. With the help of the location function, the location of Yodel contributions can be tracked to within a few meters with a little effort. Anonymity tempts users to behave inappropriately. Although the posts on Yodel are moderated, they may still include inappropriate content such as nude pictures or hate speech. Love, sex and psychological problems are frequent contents on Yodel.
Yodel is not suitable for children and younger teenagers. As with other social networks, users face challenges such as cyberbullying, cybergrooming, and hate speech. For this, young people need a certain degree of maturity and experience in dealing with negative content and unpleasant contacts online. If your child is 16 or older and wants to use Yodel, set up the app together. Your child should indicate his true age, because the content is presorted by gender, age and group. Talk to your child about communication risks online and how to deal with them. Agree with your child on how to use the device location responsibly. You can find out more in this article. Make it clear that your child should not share personal information such as address or name with strangers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 like Tinder, Bumble, Lovoo and queer-friendly services like OKCupid 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.