How can you protect your child?
Children today grow up in households where it almost goes without saying that there is a full range of different media. Most families have a television, one or more desktop computers, laptops, tablets with Internet access, smartphones and other devices. According to a study into how children use media, computers and the Internet (known as the ‘KIM study’), a good proportion of youngsters aged between 6 and 13 already have their own mobile phone or smartphone (47%) and/or their own television (35%).
However, most children in this age group go online at home using a device belonging to their parents. Generally speaking, this means that the family home tends to be the place where children and teenagers come into contact with the Internet for the first time. The way in which parents educate their children to use media has a decisive influence on their behaviour online. This is no easy task given the constant stream of technological innovations surrounding the (mobile) Internet and the available content.
It is important to watch over children as they use the (mobile) Internet, making them aware of the various opportunities and risks and bringing them up to be conscious and in-formed media users. Working hand in hand with media education by parents, there are various technical safeguards, and these are especially relevant for younger Internet users up to the age of 12.
How can you protect your child? When your children start to brave the online world, it is important that you as parents follow their first steps and make yourself available to talk to at all times. For children younger than 12, it is advisable to install some technical safeguards on the devices that they will use. This can prevent them from coming into contact with specific on¬line content that they might find overwhelming or unsettling.
Desktop computers and laptops:
- Install a spam filter and firewall
- Create a separate user account with restricted access rights
- Install parental control software (e.g. JusProg, child protection software from Deutsche Telekom)
- Install a child-friendly search engine as the default browser (e.g. fragfinn.de, blinde-kuh.de)
- Define an appropriate home page (e.g. meine-startseite.de, fragfinn.de, blinde-kuh.de)
- Add bookmarks and favourites for suitable sites
Tablets and smartphones:
- Consider a contract without Internet access or disable Wi-Fi
- Install a spam filter and firewall
- Install parental control software (e.g. Vodafone Child Protect, Surfgarten, KinderServer)
- Install suitable apps (e.g. gute-apps-fuer-kinder.de, klick-tipps.net)
What should your child know when surfing the Net?
The older children are, the more they will want to venture away from the protected area into the World Wide Web in order to gain more personal experience. When this happens, it is essen¬tial to have an open conversation with your child in order to dis-cuss some relevant issues:
- Talk to your child about problematic online content that might be encountered. Make it clear that you are always available to talk to if and when such content appears. If your child comes into contact with problematic content despite your discussions, do not apportion blame. Instead, consider working with your child to lodge a complaint against the problematic content (e.g. on jugendschutz.net, kjm-online.de or internetbeschwerdestelle.de).
- Explain cost traps and financial risks online to your child, and bring up the issue of advertising. Try to sit down together and scrutinise the messages and intentions behind online advertis-ing (e.g. internetabc.de, mediasmart.de, watchyourweb.de).
- Make clear to your child the importance of respect when interacting with other users online such as on social networking sites and in chat rooms or forums. They should treat others as they wish to be treated themselves. If this does not happen, your child can end up using reporting tools as a defence mechanism. Take a look with your child to see what reporting options exist for his or her favourite online communities.
- Make your child aware of issues surrounding the use of per¬sonal data. Not all information about us is intended for the general public to see. Before revealing any personal information, it is important to think about who will be able to access it and what they can do with it. After all, once information has been made available, it can no longer be withdrawn (see e.g. internetabc.de, youngdata.de). If your child is asked to reveal any personal information, this should first be discussed with you as a parent. On social networking platforms, you should take a look at the privacy settings together with your child and make any necessary changes (what do you want friends, acquaintances and strangers to know about your child?).
- Make it clear that your child has rights, but also that it is important to observe the rights of others – there are obligations. It is not acceptable to post a picture or video online without seeking permission from the people shown (key word: right to one’s own image). Conversely, nobody may post a picture or video of your child online without first asking for permission. It is also worth noting that images, music and videos found online may not be used again without further ado. Point out to your child that the rights belong to the person who created the content, and in many cases they require money if someone wants to use their content (e.g. irights.info, watch - yourweb.de).
Once you feel that your child understands the most important issues and knows that you are available to talk to at any time – and the appropriate technical safeguards are in place – then there are no more obstacles to exploring the World Wide Web. If you would prefer to agree very specific rules with your child, you can also draw up a media use contract: www.mediennutzungsvertrag.de
Hilfestellungen zum Umgang mit dem Internet für Kinder und Infos für Eltern
Umfassende Informationsseite rund um das Thema „Smartphone und apps“
Studien des medienpädagogischen Forschungsverbunds Südwest zur Mediennutzung von Kindern und Jugendlichen
Klicksafe ist eine initiative der Europäischen Kommission für mehr Sicherheit im Netz.
Seit 2004 finden Eltern und Erziehende auf der Webseite www.klicksafe.de Antworten und Informationen rund um das Thema Internet. Die Landeszentrale für Medien und Kommunikation in Rheinland-Pfalz und der Landesanstalt für Medien in Nordrheinwestfalen sind für die Umsetzung von Klicksafe zuständig.