Do you remember the feeling when the day was approaching, when a new episode of your favorite series was on TV, and you planned everything so as to be on time in front of the family TV in the living room? Thanks to media libraries, Netflix and the like, this scenario is largely a thing of the past.
More and more children and young people today watch videos, movies and series online via legal streaming services. This non-linear TV makes it possible to watch when you want with the device of your choice – whether smartphone, computer or an Internet-enabled smart TV.
The range of options is huge: There are paid online video stores like Netflix or Amazon Prime and free video streaming platforms like YouTube with content produced by users themselves. Many TV stations also make their programs available free of charge or, in some cases, for a fee via their own media libraries. Some broadcasters also offer a livestream, via which – as with traditional analog television – the currently running program can be viewed online. Content can be viewed without having to download and save it to your own device. In some cases, it is also possible to download individual movies or series and play them offline.
This wide selection is of course also available to children and young people. If they have their own device with an Internet connection, it’s hard to control what and how much they see.
What is attractive is the wide variety of current and selected series, films and documentaries, which can theoretically be watched at any time of the day or night. It has become normal for children and young people not to have to watch their favorite show at a specific time, as is the case with “normal” television. In addition, a new episode of the favorite series can be easily watched while sitting on the bus or train, for example.
As with TV programming, there are movies and videos on streaming portals with content that is not suitable for children and can scare them. Streaming services must also comply with the statutory protection of minors in the media and adopt the age ratings of the FSK (Voluntary Self-Regulation of the Movie Industry). If there is no FSK rating for films or series episodes, they must make the age ratings themselves and comply with German law.
The criteria for streaming services’ own age ratings are not necessarily apparent. Therefore, be sure to read up on the parental control settings of the respective streaming provider and use the functions and settings offered, such as passwords and PINs.
Set specific time windows during which watching is allowed. Media time should always be just one of many other, non-media activities. If you are not sure how much time your child should spend in front of the TV or laptop, you can find more information here on the website.
Ask your child about their favorite shows or movies and watch them together. Depending on your child’s age, you should watch movies and videos together so that if there is something scary or questionable in them after all, your child is not left alone with it.
Movie night with the whole family can also be a nice shared experience and ritual. Here you can have fun together and get to see how your child reacts to certain content.