There seems to be something for young and old on Disney+: from cartoon classics such as Snow White and Mickey Mouse to big blockbusters such as Star Wars and the most popular Disney films of recent years such as The Ice Queen. What parents should know about the offer.
The streaming portal offers a large selection of films and series, similar to Netflix, Amazon Prime and the like. In addition to successful movies from Walt Disney and Pixar in recent years, older Disney films are also available. In addition, there are exciting documentaries from National Geographic. Episodes of current Disney Channel series are also published on the platform at weekly intervals. This way, there is less danger of watching through an entire season without a break. There is also the option of downloading content (does not apply to the subscription model with advertising). With the Standard and Premium subscriptions, Disney+ can also be used on the go with any internet-enabled device. So far, the offer is not as large as on Netflix, for example. However, more and more films are being added.
Disney+ is clear and easy to use for children. The wide range of popular franchises such as Marvel and Star Wars offers both familiar and new adventures. Until February 2021, there were no films with an age rating above FSK 12 or certain scenes were cut out of individual films so that they are also suitable for younger children. In the “Star” category that was then added, adult content is now also available. Adults enjoy the favorite films of their own childhood.
Disney+ has additional parental control settings despite primarily adult content. However, films from the age of 12 can also be found in the offer. Especially smaller children can still be frightened by such films. It is therefore important to guide children in their film selection and viewing.
By creating a children’s profile (called Junior mode), films that are not approved for younger children are not displayed. There is no specific age rating. Disney+ decides what is displayed in Junior mode. This means that films and series with a rating of 0 are also missing from the children’s profile. In the children’s profile, you can, for example, prevent the next episode of a series from playing automatically and the user interface is simplified. Parental controls can be used to assign a PIN to individual profiles – e.g. the profile for adults or older children – so that younger children do not have access. Individual titles cannot be hidden.
If you want to set the age rating yourself, you can assign an age rating to a normal profile (without parental control, without junior mode): 0, 6, 12, 16 or 18 years. However, depending on the subscription model, advertising will run in such a profile.
Each profile, with the exception of the main profile, can also be subsequently converted into a children’s profile (junior mode).
Disney states that advertising content such as clips and trailers for content available on Disney+ or for other Disney products can be shown. Live content can also contain traditional commercial breaks and other advertising formats. There is no advertising in Junior mode. Incidentally, there are no in-app purchases with Disney+, which can lead to unwanted costs, especially for children and young people. And if tobacco products are shown in a movie, Disney draws attention to this with a warning at the beginning.
Account sharing, i.e. the use of an account by several people at the same time, is prohibited under the terms and conditions, but is possible. From 2024, Disney+ will take decisive action against this breach of the rules.
Since Disney+ is primarily aimed at children, they will quickly become accustomed to having access to their favorite series and movies at all times.
Especially accompany young children watching movies. Find out about specific movies and series in advance. Choose age-appropriate programs, for a younger child rather short episodes than long films. Also, schedule plenty of screen-free time for other activities such as walks in the fresh air or hobbies. Talk about set media times within the family.
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.
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.
Addiction, violence, conspiracy theories, cyberbullying – sometimes you can get the impression that the Internet only brings out the worst in us.
But they do exist: the good sites on the worldwide web. The positive and age-appropriate content, the good news, the community and cohesion. We present valuable digital offerings for children and young people.
For the youngest users, the Internet is a vast space that is difficult to navigate at first. There is a gigantic offer of pages and content. But beware: most of the sites are aimed at adults.
Especially the classic access to the web via Google -search engine often leads to results that are, at best, boring and incomprehensible for children, at worst, frightening and traumatizing. But there are other ways: With children of kindergarten and elementary school age, parents are best off turning before Google – and using children’s search engines. The best-known search engines are Blinde Kuh and fragFINN. Here, every search displays child-friendly, vetted sites that are guaranteed to be fun.
If you are looking for good websites or apps, you don’t have to despair at the flood of offers, but will find recommendations and tips bundled together. Seitenstark features more than 60 tested children’s websites with high standards of quality and protection of children and young people from harmful media. Here children can find everything on topics such as nature and the environment, music and film, history and politics, or religion. The app database of the DJI (German Youth Institute) presents good children’s apps. Those interested in news will find age-appropriate information on news sites for children. The EU initiative klicksafe gives children valuable tips on how to use media safely.
But the offer does not have to remain purely passive: many websites offer opportunities to participate, such as the safe photo community Knipsclub, the portal Kindersache or other participation platforms.
And when the children get older? Then, in most cases, inappropriate search results are no longer the problem. Young people are moving more independently online, using social media platforms in particular for information and exchange. There they are confronted with many things – from negative headlines and political extremes to communication risks such as hate and bullying. And dubious role models, unrealistic life goals, such as those conveyed by influencers, can also be problematic.
For parents, it’s important to stay in communication with their child about what content they encounter online, what’s okay – and where they should rather steer clear.
Also, parents can give suggestions on valuable sites on the net. If you’re looking for positive news, for example, you’ll find it on sites like https://goodnews.eu/ or ZDF ‘s “Good News”. And thus perhaps creates a balance to the eternal negative news spiral, the doomscrolling.
There are many people and providers on social media platforms who stand for good, positive topics and values – and also good dealings. Starting with activists like Luisa Neubauer on Instagram for the climate or Raul Krauthausen on Facebook for inclusion. Under hashtags like #bodypositivity, stars like Sarah Nicole Landry convey a positive body image. This can be good for adolescents going through puberty.
And the great thing is that if you start following positive people and content, the algorithm helps you right along and flushes even more pleasant content onto your screen. This can quickly create a friendlier, more positive bubble where young people can feel more comfortable and safe than in the unfiltered social media world.
Whether for children, teenagers or adults, one thing is clear: There’s everything on the Internet. The good news and the bad, the beautiful sides and the terrible, the nice encounters and the unpleasant ones. Just everything that people have up their sleeves. And on and offline, we can and must choose well for ourselves what we want to occupy ourselves with.
Therefore, accompany your child to the net. Use – in consultation with your child – solutions for technical youth media protection such as settings on the smartphone, youth protection apps or special software. This can be used to secure devices and filter out content that is not age-appropriate.
Show your child the “good parts,” suggest content, and also talk about how they can choose content, why they should choose critically, and the impact the people and issues we engage with every day can have on us. The klicksafe materials, for example, are suitable for discussions about media use or for agreeing on rules with each other.
And if you do have unpleasant encounters with hate, extremism or the like, it’s also good to know the right places to go. We present these to you in the article “Digital counseling services for young people and parents“.
The latest news, preparation for a paper or the weather forecast – check TikTok right away. Teenagers and young adults in particular are frequent users of social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube as search engines. This can work, but it also brings its own unique challenges.
It was taken for granted for a long time – if you want to find something on the Internet, you “Google” it. But that seems to be faltering. Young people are increasingly starting their online searches on social media platforms such as YouTube, TikTok and the like. In some statistics, YouTube even appears as the second largest search engine after Google – and the trend is rising.
Why? That’s quite simple: Social media is the digital home of many young people anyway. That’s where they know their way around, that’s where they feel comfortable – and that’s why they have great confidence in the search results. When young people search here for products, events or places, the results are mostly (seemingly) personal recommendations and experiences from celebrities or from the community, instead of rather impersonal and complicated web links. This makes a credible and approachable impression on young people. In addition, videos or images are easier and more entertaining than eternal clicking through text deserts.
Platforms like TikTok and YouTube are responding to young people’s need to be able to search content easily. TikTok, for example, has made the search field significantly larger and more prominent, and now offers a widget for smartphones that can be used to operate the TikTok search directly from the home screen. The term “widget” comes from English and is a compound word from “window” = window and gadget = technical gadget. “Widget” refers to a type of interactive window.
But how can children and young people distinguish trustworthy from dubious information on social media? Is everything there really as authentic as it sometimes seems?
Because, of course, influencers are not always the nice buddies next door – but earn a lot of money with their appearances and recommendations. So if a restaurant is praised here with particularly warm words, it may well be that there is simply a particularly lucrative advertising contract behind it.
In addition, classic advertisements also appear on social networks. The algorithm also still has a say and constantly presents us with similar results – just like other search engines. And caution is also called for in other respects: In addition to serious information, fake news or even deliberate propaganda from various interest groups can also be found on the networks. Social media platforms often collect and collate at least as much data as traditional search engines.
As a parent, you should think carefully with your child about how to use the search function of social media services safely:
Show interest in your child’s media use and his or her favorite offerings on TikTok and Co. Encourage your child to use social media platforms critically. Only if your child knows the possibilities and also the advantages and disadvantages of different offers, he can choose consciously and purposefully.
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.
Sharing children’s photos online, chatting in Minecraft or setting up the first smartphone – in everyday family life with media, there are many points of contact with the topic of privacy. But what exactly does privacy mean? And what can parents do to adequately protect their child’s privacy on the Internet? That’s what this article is about.
When we talk about privacy, we mean the personal space in a person’s life. That’s the part that’s around us where we can do things privately. In the realm of privacy, we can live our lives the way we want without it being anyone else’s business.
While we protect ourselves from prying eyes at home with curtains, there are other things we need to watch out for in the digital world. Maintaining privacy on the Internet specifically means protecting personal information and activities online. This includes personal data such as name, age, address and other private details. This starts even before birth with the sharing of ultrasound pictures, continues with the use of baby monitor apps and ends with smart toys in the nursery. As soon as your child is consciously on the Internet, you should discuss the topic of privacy on the Internet with him or her and explain to your child how to handle private information and online activities prudently. Make it clear to your child that he or she should not share personal details with strangers. Educate your child about scamming online. Make them aware of how they can recognize subscription traps, fake sweepstakes and the like in order to prevent the criminal misuse of their own data.
By the time they move on to secondary school at the latest, many children receive their first smartphone of their own. Depending on which phone your child has (Apple or Android), there are ways to set certain settings for apps to protect privacy:
In today’s connected world, it is very important to protect your child’s privacy, especially when using social media platforms:
Solutions for technical youth media protection such as parental control programs or the accompanied mode on TikTok are one way to increase your child’s safety when using media. However, they do not replace your responsible role in media education. An open conversation between you as parents and your child about what they are experiencing online is very important to help them navigate the web safely and responsibly.
For parents, it is a challenge to keep track of the huge range on offer on TV and streaming platforms: Movies and TV shows, series, non-fictional formats such as reports and documentaries, casting, stunt and game shows, erotic offerings, music videos and docu-soaps or coaching programs. Which media content is age-appropriate for my child, which is unsuitable and which should I protect my child from? An initial orientation for age-appropriate programs is provided by the age ratings and the associated broadcast times – they are often based on a rating by Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Fernsehen e.V. (FSF).
The FSF is a non-profit, legally recognized association that supports private television broadcasters, telemedia providers and streaming services in implementing youth protection regulations in Germany. To this end, the FSF offers content review by independent experts who set age ratings and broadcast times, identify objectionable content, and recommend cuts if necessary.
The basis for the audit is the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV), which regulates the protection of minors from unsuitable media content. The aim is to protect children and young people from content that is harmful to their development, e.g. drastic depictions of violence, excessively frightening scenes or questionable role models. This content is rated with the ability of different age groups in mind and given a clearance of 6, 12, 16 or 18. In media libraries or streaming services, these age indicators are displayed; on TV, they are associated with specific broadcast times:
The age ratings are also stored by many providers as technical identifiers that can be recognized by youth protection programs. More information is available here on the FSF website.
The FSF reviews content of all genres, especially series, documentaries and films shown on television or online platforms. But commercials and program trailers, music videos, show formats, docu-soaps or reportage and news programs can also be relevant to youth protection and submitted for review.
The FSF reviews content submitted by TV broadcasters or streaming service providers upon request. The evaluation takes place in examination committees with three or five independent examiners. They come from different disciplines such as media education, psychology, media science or law. A program is screened and possible risks are discussed. The decision for the appropriate age rating is made by simple majority. More information on program review can be found on the FSF website.
The key risk areas are violence, fear and disorientation. Essential for the evaluation is the context.
In the case of depictions of violence, for example, the question is whether the violence appears positive overall and could thus increase children’s and young people’s willingness to engage in violence and conflict: Is the depicted violence more likely to be endorsed or rejected? Is it presented as something fascinating? Does it seem more artificial or realistic? Is it exercised by the villain or the hero or heroine? And is it successful in the end?
Similar questions arise in the case of the effect risk of disorientation, e.g. in the case of representations of prejudices or role clichés, of drug abuse or of risky behavior: Do problematic behaviors appear attractive and worthy of imitation or are they critically commented on or rejected?
Risks of excessive anxiety come into consideration especially in the lower age groups. Younger children often cannot adequately process moments of shock or images of violence or injury or separate themselves from stressful issues such as parental separation.
The extent to which media content is likely to trigger fears or negatively influence the values of children and young people depends on the ability of the respective age group to cope with stressful scenes and to classify and question problematic statements. More information on impact risks is available on the FSF website.
Age ratings and broadcast times are a guide, but should not be the sole basis for media selection. Each child develops individually and has different needs and levels of maturity. Therefore, use other information to assess whether a content is suitable for your child and fits his or her personal situation. Age ratings are not recommendations!
Accompany your child’s media use. Talk to him about his media experiences and help him understand and classify media content. The FSF’s assessments can help you make informed, age-appropriate choices.
Parents can contact the FSF Complaints Office with comments and complaints about TV or streaming content. In justified cases, an audit will be initiated.
Whether in the cinema, on DVDs, when streaming series or watching TV – children, young people and parents frequently encounter the FSK age labels in their everyday media lives. Find out what’s behind the FSK ratings, how the ratings can help parents choose appropriate movies and protect young people from potentially inappropriate content in this article.
The FSK stands for “Voluntary Self-Regulation of the Film Industry.” It is a German institution concerned with the age rating of cinematic content on all distribution channels such as cinema, DVD/Blu-ray and streaming.
The FSK’s task is to classify and label movies and videos in an age-appropriate manner. In doing so, they examine the entire content and the portrayal of problematic aspects such as violence and sexuality. The labeling with an age rating takes the form of colored symbols such as “from 0” or “from 6”. The symbols can be found, for example, on packaging such as the DVD case or on movie posters.
The FSK ratings are based on the German Youth Protection Act (JuSchG). It contains legal provisions to protect children and young people from inappropriate content. The FSK is not a state institution, but a self-regulatory body of the film industry, which in Germany is supported by various interest groups under the umbrella of the umbrella organization of the film industry. However, state representatives are directly involved in the audits.
The FSK evaluates various media in the film and entertainment industry when a review is requested, in particular
Not all media are rated by the FSK. Computer games are checked by the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK), while the Voluntary Self-Regulation Body for Television (FSF e.V.) is (also) responsible for television content and streaming services.
The age restrictions serve to protect minors in Germany and are based on the media competence attributed to different age groups of children and young people. Volunteer examiners from all over Germany work at the FSK. They come from different professional fields, e.g. journalism, media studies, education and justice.
The committee examinations take place at the FSK in Wiesbaden. After viewing the films and videos together, they discuss and vote on the age rating. The basis for the rating is the Youth Protection Act and the principles of the FSK. Consideration is given to plot, dialogue, character portrayal, visuals, specific themes such as violence and sexuality, and music.
Alternatively, after training, applicants can have their content rated using the FSK classification tool. The final decision on the test result is then made by the state representatives at the FSC. More information on the testing procedures can be found in the FSC’s principles and on the FSC website.
The following indications and problem areas have particular relevance for the respective release:
Since 2023, the FSK has been implementing a new provision in the German Protection of Minors Act and adding additional information to the known age ratings. These so-called “descriptors” are intended to explain the main reasons for the release and thus offer families more guidance when selecting films and series. More information can be found on the FSC website.
The FSK’s age ratings serve to protect minors, ensuring that children and young people are not adversely affected by content that is unsuitable for them. The releases are binding, which means, for example: films from the age of 12 may only be viewed by younger children in the cinema when accompanied by an adult.
The state does not determine what movies children can watch at home. Parents can also make media accessible to their children that are not approved for their age. In doing so, they must not neglect their duty to educate:
The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) is the voluntary self-regulation body of the games industry. It is responsible for age rating reviews of digital games in Germany.
The USK is recognized as a competent self-regulator under both the German Federal Youth Protection Act and the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media. In the area of the German Youth Protection Act, state representatives issue the statutory age ratings at the end of a USK procedure on the recommendation of independent youth protection experts.
In addition, the USK assigns age ratings within the international IARC system (International Age Rating Coalition) for online games and apps. In addition, the USK supports companies from the games industry in complying with and further developing the protection of minors in the gaming sector, for example in the area of technical protection of minors, and is involved in the area of media education, among other things with initiatives such as the Elternguide.online.
The games applied for USK testing are played through completely by trained volunteer reviewers and then presented to a testing panel that is independent of the games industry. The review panel consists of four youth protection experts and one permanent representative of the supreme state youth authorities (OLJB). The youth protection experts come from academia, media education, church institutions and youth facilities, and have experience in working with media and with children and young people. After extensive discussion, the youth protection experts recommend an age rating. The OLJB Permanent Representative may adopt or appeal this age release. Subsequently, the USK receives the test result and communicates it to the applicants. If they also do not appeal, triggering a new review, the game will receive the legal age rating by the OLJB’s Permanent Representation to the USK.
In the online area, the USK assigns age ratings within the framework of the international system IARC (International Age Rating Coalition). This is an association of the various organizations responsible for age rating worldwide, such as ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) in the USA, PEGI (Pan European Game Information) in Europe, ClassInd (Classificação Indicativa) in Brazil, GRAC (Game Rating and Administration Committee) in South Korea, ACB (Australian Classification Board) in Australia and the USK in Germany. At IARC, online game and app providers go through a questionnaire on content relevant to youth protection. An age rating is then issued from the respective entries according to the specifications and criteria of the respective national self-regulation (for Germany, the USK). In all distribution platforms connected to this system, age ratings from the USK are thus available. Connected systems include the Google Playstore, Nintendo eShop, Xbox Store, Sony Playstation Store, and Oculus Store.
There are set criteria for the age rating of digital games. These guiding criteria are decided and adapted by the USK’s advisory board, which is made up of various social groups. The guiding criteria serve as a basis for review panels in assessing the risks of possible developmental impairment to children and adolescents when playing games that are not age-appropriate. They provide support in the decision-making process.
The focus is on the presumption of impact, i.e. the extent to which young people’s development could be impaired or even endangered. These include criteria such as the atmosphere in the game, violence or pressure to act. Since 2023, so-called “usage risks”, for example functions such as chats, in-game purchases or location sharing, have also been taken into account in the youth protection review and can have an influence on the age rating. More information about the USK’s guiding criteria can be found on the USK’s website.
The age rating symbols awarded include USK 0 (released without age restriction), USK 6, USK 12, USK 16 and USK 18 (no youth rating).
Since January 2023, the USK’s age rating labels have included additional information about the reasons for the age rating as well as existing online functions in the game. In this way, parents can see at a glance which reasons led to the age rating (for example, “comic book violence” or “pressure to act”) and which risks should be kept in mind when using media (for example, “chats”, “in-game purchases” or “location sharing”). The notices can be found on the back of the game packaging, on the corresponding online platforms and in the USK title database.
In principle, the state does not regulate with its age labels how and what media content parents make available to their children at home. However, parents should only give or allow their children to play games that have an appropriate age rating. However, the labels do not provide any information about the difficulty level of a game or its respective pedagogical suitability. An educational assessment on digital games is provided, for example, by the NRW Game Guide, which is funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Three tips for parents from the USK:
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.
Digital games are a popular pastime among children and young people. People also like to play via the Internet. There are various game sites on the net where children can play, some for free and some for a fee. Beim Spiel allein oder im Team werden verschiedene Fähigkeiten gefördert, aber vor allem sogenannte Multiplayer-Spiele bergen auch Gefahren wie Mobbing.
Many games portals that are particularly popular with children and young people, such as spielaffe.de, are financed by advertising. This is the only way they can offer the games for free. In return, children are confronted with many advertisements and links to external partners. Not every child is able to distinguish advertising from the actual content of the website and may thus unintentionally end up on other pages.
Play monkey is not made specifically for children. Not all games are suitable for every age of child, but still achievable. One problem here is that games that are offered online do not yet have to be provided with an age rating.
Younger children in particular are likely to be overwhelmed by the wide range of products and the many colorful pictures and buttons on spielaffe.de. The chat with other users is only possible after prior registration – but you can also play without registration. The section with information for parents and children on how to use the site safely is hard to find – at the very bottom left.
Even if Spielaffe does not collect data directly, data is collected and passed on via the integrated external pages, such as Facebook. The situation is similar at spielzwerg.de and spielkarussell.de. When registering, parents are not asked whether they agree that their children who are not yet of age can play here.
Many of the games offered on such portals also work with outdated gender stereotypes. There is often a category “girl games”, where you can find games about household or beauty. None of the three websites are displayed directly in a search with the fragFINN child search engine. Websites that are otherwise harmless for children can be found via fragFINN.
Despite all the risks, children and young people like to use these sites – certainly also because of the large selection of games. Try to understand your child’s fascination with these sites and show interest without ignoring the dangers. Help your child recognize advertising and agree on rules for using such sites. Install ad blockers and check out what educators have to offer and what they think. Online services such as the initiative Gutes Aufwachsen mit Medien (Growing up well with media ) or the Seitenstark community offer help here. Educationally valuable offers can be found via fragFINN and the Blind Cow, among others.
TikTok gehört noch immer zu den beliebtesten Apps unter Jugendlichen. Sie ist eine Plattform für kreative Kurzvideos aller Art.
TikTok ist Social-Media-Plattform und Video-App in einem: Userinnen und User können bei TikTok aus einer bunten Sammlung von bekannten Popsongs, beliebten Audios und Zitaten, z. B. aus Filmen, wählen. Dazu „singen“ oder „sprechen“ sie Playback und filmen ihre Choreografie innerhalb der App mit dem Smartphone. Aber auch komplett selbst kreierte Kurzvideos werden umgesetzt. Die meisten Videos sind ein paar Sekunden bis wenige Minuten lang. Bestimmte Clips lösen einen richtigen Hype aus, werden nachgeahmt oder im Sinne eines Trends oder einer Challenge weitergeführt.
Die Videos der TikTokerinnen und TikToker, deren Account öffentlich ist, lassen sich über einen Browser anschauen, ohne dass man bei der App angemeldet sein muss. Um selbst Videos zu erstellen, wird allerdings ein Account benötigt.
TikTok bringt immer mehr Funktionen heraus, z. B. sich im Duett mit anderen Usern filmen, die Clips anderer weiterführen (Stitch) oder Livestreams. Auch Unternehmen nutzen die Plattform, um darüber zu werben.
Jugendliche nutzen TikTok gern zum Spaß und für den Austausch untereinander. Auf TikTok lassen sich die jungen Nutzenden unterhalten, suchen nach Vorbildern, an denen sie sich orientieren können, stellen sich selbst dar und erhoffen sich positive Rückmeldung von anderen.
TikTok ist außerdem eine tolle Plattform, um die eigene Kreativität auszuleben. Die Hürde, ein eigenes Video zu erstellen und zu teilen, ist niedrig: In der App gibt es viele Videoeffekte und eine Musikbibliothek mit beliebten Songs, die sofort verwendet werden können.
Kinder und Jugendliche schätzen an TikTok, dass es darin weniger um Perfektion und Professionalität geht, wie auf Instagram oder YouTube, sondern Kreativität und Spaß im Vordergrund stehen. Die Videos sind näher am Alltag und die TikTokerinnen und TikToker werden als nahbarer empfunden.
There are a number of things you and your child should consider before using the app:
TikTok ist sich der Gefahr von verstörenden und unerwünschten Inhalten bewusst und passt seine Sicherheitseinstellungen immer wieder an. Folgende Sicherheitsfeatures stehen Jugendlichen und Ihnen als Eltern zur Verfügung:
Generell lassen sich Accounts melden und/oder blockieren und es gibt einen Filter für beleidigende Kommentare.
In der App wird nach der Registrierung durch einen roten Punkt auf die Einstellungen verwiesen. Im Sicherheitszentrum der TikTok-Website können Eltern Tipps nachlesen.
Personen, die selbst TikToks erstellen und veröffentlichen, können seit einiger Zeit „Alle Kommentare filtern“ und einzeln freigeben. Wer die TikToks anderer kommentieren möchten, wird vorher gefragt, ob dieser Kommentar auch wirklich veröffentlicht werden soll. Außerdem gibt es einen Hinweis auf die Community-Richtlinien, die unangemessene Sprache und Hate Speech verbieten.
TikTok steht wegen seiner Moderationsregeln in der Kritik, denn offenbar wird durch den speziellen Algorithmus stark kontrolliert, welche Videos die Nutzenden sehen können. Auf diese Kritik hat TikTok reagiert. Nutzende haben mittlerweile mehr Optionen, Einfluss auf die vom TikTok-Algorithmus angezeigten Inhalte in ihrem Feed zu nehmen:
Sie können Videos nun mit „nicht interessiert“ markieren oder konkrete Inhalte mit bestimmten Hashtags oder Wörtern automatisch herausfiltern. Seit März 2023 stellt TikTok eine Neustart-Option für den Für-Dich-Feed zur Verfügung. Wer findet, dass die vorgeschlagenen Videos sich wiederholen oder nicht mehr zu den Interessen passen, kann den Feed zurücksetzen und nutzt die App wie nach der erstmaligen Anmeldung. Trotz dieser Maßnahmen bleibt der Für-Dich-Feed Algorithmus-gesteuert und bleibt somit nach wie vor in der Hand des Anbieters. So filtert TikTok zum Beispiel immer wieder Videos von Menschen mit Beeinträchtigungen heraus und je nach Nutzungs-Land kann es sein, dass die Videos der Zensur ihrer dortigen Regierungen unterliegen.
Wenn Ihr Kind sich bei TikTok anmelden möchte, fragen Sie nach seiner Motivation. Sehen Sie sich vor dem Download gemeinsam die Nutzungsbedingungen an. Bei Handysektor finden Sie diese in einem kurzen Überblick. Um TikTok zu erkunden, ist es nicht notwendig, einen Account zu erstellen. Vielleicht ist das Surfen auf TikTok via Browser für den Anfang eine gute Option für Ihr Kind, um herauszufinden, ob ihm TikTok überhaupt gefällt.
Wenn es irgendwann einen Account geben soll, richten Sie diesen gemeinsam ein und probieren Sie zusammen die ersten Schritte aus. Geben Sie das richtige Geburtsjahr an. Für 13- bis 17-Jährige greifen gewisse Sicherheitsfeatures, die den Jugendschutz erhöhen. Eine Anleitung zu kindersicheren Einstellungen TikTok finden Sie auf medien-kindersicher.de.
Sprechen Sie mit Ihrem Kind über die möglichen Gefahren. Besonders wichtig ist, auf die Privatsphäre zu achten und in den Videos nicht zu viel von sich preiszugeben. Im privaten Modus ist mehr Kontrolle möglich. So ist die Kommunikation nur mit Freundinnen und Freunden möglich und Ihr Kind behält den Überblick darüber, wer die Videos sehen kann.
Versichern Sie Ihrem Kind, dass es sich jederzeit an Sie wenden kann, sollte es Beleidigungen erhalten oder belästigt werden. Zeigen Sie ihm außerdem, wie man unangemessene Inhalte blockieren und melden kann. Mehr Informationen dazu bietet der Leitfaden für Eltern von TikTok in Zusammenarbeit mit der FSM.
Um die eigene Privatsphäre und die von anderen besser zu schützen, muss bei einem Video nicht unbedingt immer das Gesicht zu sehen sein. Mit Hilfe von Emoji-Stickern oder anderen kreativen Lösungen ist das möglich.