Digital media has long conquered many children’s rooms. The Bremen Consumer Advice Center explains how to prevent app rip-offs and how much time children should spend on their mobile phones.
Whether it is a smartphone, tablet or game console – digital media is a part of everyday life for children and young people. This is a challenge for many parents. Here are a few tips from the Consumer Advice Center in Bremen.
1 Set rules for the duration of use
The Federal Center for Health Education recommends that children under the age of three should not use screen media such as cell phones or tablets. According to the recommendation, boys and girls between the ages of three and six can use smartphones and game consoles for up to 30 minutes a day. A period of 30 to 60 minutes is suggested for children aged six to ten.
Establish rules with your children, but also plan exceptions so that it is possible to visit the cinema, for example. “Conversely, there should always be media-free days,” says Katja Nonnenkamp-Klüting from the Bremen Consumer Advice Center. For example, parents and children can record an appointment at www.medienutilisation-contract.de.
2 Keep track of what your kids are watching on their smartphones and what games they are playing on consoles
Digital media already plays an important role in the everyday lives of children and young people. Take part in your offspring’s activities and let them tell you what your children are interested in and what they see on the internet.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, Nonnenkamp-Klüting also recommends keeping an eye on gaming apps and games on PCs or consoles. “Even free apps can become a rip-off through so-called in-app purchases.” With in-game purchases or in-app, users are regularly encouraged to unlock additional features or equipment for the game for a fee.
This is very tempting for children and also quite easy if parents have stored payment methods on their tablet or mobile phone at home. A third-party lock would be useful. “This prevents unwanted purchases from being processed via the monthly mobile phone bill,” says Katja Nonnenkamp-Klüting
3 Pay attention to content that is suitable for children and young people
Tabloid magazines and news programs are not made for the youngest and are not suitable. There are special children’s news such as “Logo” from ZDF, the WDR production “Diesendung mit der Maus” or the children’s radio station “Zebra Vier” from Radio Bremen. These formats are designed in a language that boys and girls can understand and avoid images that are unsuitable for little ones.
Nonnenkamp-Klüting also recommends avoiding Google and YouTube, as search results and ads are often not suitable for minors. An alternative is, for example, www.blinde-kuh.de. When it comes to movies and games, she recommends using the sails from Entertainment Software Self-Regulation (USK) and Voluntary Self-Regulation of the Film Industry – in short FSK.
4 Devices must fit the child
When does it make sense to have your own smartphone? The question gives rise to discussions in many families at the dinner table. There is no general answer. When making a decision, it is important to remember that agreed media times are adhered to. Bremen Consumer Advice Center recommends prepaid rather than contract cell phones. “For expensive appliances, it pays to take out insurance that covers damage such as theft or defects. Basically, it must be a cheap, possibly used appliance,” she says. In addition, there are numerous applications that limit the use of smartphones and tablets. “So that certain apps only run for a certain period of time. Times can also be set,” says Nonnenkamp-Klüting.
5 Talk about dangers online
Make your kids aware that their data is valuable and that they are not uploading photos or videos of themselves to platforms like Tiktok, Instagram or Facebook, for example. Age-appropriate discussion of the topics of fake news and advertising is also important. Explain how to recognize it and what its purpose is. “Advertising is particularly seductive for children, but there are a few legal things to consider,” says Nonnenkamp-Klüting.
Children under the age of seven are not legally competent. So if Junior has bought something online, those amounts can be booked back, she explains. As a starting point, for children from the age of seven and young people up to the age of 18, they can only buy something without the parents’ consent within the framework of the free use of the pocket money. This is only possible without the consent of the parents if the goods can be paid for immediately with pocket money.
This topic in the program:
buten un binnen, 14 June 2022, kl. 19.30