In no other stage of our lives do we undergo such fundamental and above all rapid changes as we do in our childhood and adolescence. Digital media are playing an increasingly significant role in the growing-up process. And just as every child or adolescent is highly individual, the opportunities and challenges associated with using these media are equally varied. Key factors here include not just each respective child’s age, but also his or her personal preferences and interests. The FSM provides countless services and projects to help young persons in all stages of childhood and adolescence use mobile, digital and hybrid media, along with age-appropriate, interest-specific information about issues relevant to safe, creative media use.
Internet Guide für Kids
To help children get started on the Internet, the FSM, in collaboration with the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (German Child Welfare Organisation) and fragFINN, has developed an internet guide specially written and designed for children. In the online edition, available at www.kindersache.de/internetguide, the characters Leo and Lupe offer children a highly personalised introduction to digital media and the attendant potential benefits and challenges. The blog format is an especially engaging way of inviting them to discover the Internet as a realm for creative experience and to take an active role in shaping it. The online version of the Internet Guide is supported by the Auerbach Foundation.
There is also a brochure for children explaining how to navigate around the Internet purposefully and safely without coming across content that is not meant for them. Another key aim of the brochure is to make children aware of the dangers associated with revealing their personal data on the Internet.
The brochure can be obtained from the office of the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk.
YouNow is a so-called “streaming service” allowing images and sound to be broadcast over the Internet, easily, live and in real time. All it requires is a computer with Internet access and a webcam or a smartphone with a camera and the corresponding YouNow app. Viewers have the option of using a chat window to enter comments or questions, which will then be answered directly. Although one has to be logged in beforehand in order to stream own content, previously published streams can be viewed and commented on without any need to log in.
Above all, the fact that content is broadcast live on YouNow can cause problems. Children and adolescents often recklessly publish content that does not belong on the Internet. In particular, personal details such as addresses, names, phone numbers or names of schools may be misused by viewers, in this case anonymously. But insults and mobbing are possible on YouNow thanks to its comment and chat function.
If the live stream is happening in public, the personal rights of third parties will often be affected – if, for example, the material is streamed secretly at school without first obtaining permission from the person shown. Care must also be taken that any music playing in the background is not protected by copyright – otherwise GEMA fees may be incurred.
As with any other provider, users have to comply with the internal rules of the platform. Only young persons aged 13 and over are allowed to use YouNow. It is forbidden for minors to expose themselves on camera. Obscene or hurtful language is prohibited as a general rule. There is a reporting and blocking system designed to ensure that action is taken against problematic incidents on YouNow. However, monitoring is extremely difficult due to the wide variety of live streams and the fact that the service operates in real time. It is also almost impossible to check the age of users because they log in via an existing Google+, Twitter or Facebook account.
Younger minors should not use YouNow because even watching a stream and following the user comments and chat messages can be upsetting. Older minors should, above all, be aware of the dangers and possible problems associated with using the service, and
- should never reveal personal data,
- should not expose themselves, either physically or emotionally,
- should not get involved in any direct communication (either a one-to-one message or, especially, personal contact in the form of a meeting, etc.), and
- should be thoughtful in their own behaviour toward third parties, and should only film third parties with their consent
fragFINN is a search machine for children and will help you find information on the Internet. If you visit www.fragFINN.de, you can enter a search term or the name of a website into a search box and you will receive a list of suitable results. Then you simply pick the sites you want to visit. fragFINN also includes exciting surfing tips, cool games and great chats.
The “klicksafe.de” project aims to function as a nationwide platform highlighting the opportunities and risks presented by the Internet – a national hub for a network of existing information offers and initiatives within Germany. Partners from the political, business, social and economic spheres work together within the “klicksafe.de” network. The project was commissioned by the European Union as part of its Safer Internet Programme, aimed at raising the level of Internet skills among EU citizens.