Children and Media - Tips for parents

Computers, play stations, televisions and mobile phones have become an integral part of the children's everyday lives. Even primary school pupils are talking shop about new computer game extensions. You know online games as well as community networks. With a mobile phone to film, take photos and listen to music - no problem. No more than they can quickly exchange and download files.

For many adults, the media world holds some uncertainties. It is therefore a good thing that you are calling here today to find out about the world that has become your children's favourite playground in recent years. As is so often the case, there are two sides of the same coin in the new media. They should not demonise technical developments - they are now part of everyday life. There is no point in prohibiting media consumption by children and young people. This is because supply and access to the media are omnipresent and are an important part of the lives of children and young people. But you should not blindly approve of the media either, but there are a number of possible dangers to dealing with it. The only way to use the good sides of the media is to get to grips with the new offers and maybe even surf the Internet with your children. Otherwise, children and parents can move away from each other and eventually really live in two different worlds.

Let us therefore take a closer look at some of the new media. The Internet, for example, is a valuable and partly exciting source of knowledge. There are special sites for children, with age-appropriate games and well-prepared knowledge. For example, under www.ard.de many good sites are listed under the menu item "Children". There is neither violence nor pornography to be seen here, but there is good learning content.

Children also find it exciting to meet in the chat room. To do this, they log on to the Internet and can create a profile of themselves, either with real or fake names. The children think this is cool, it's fun to experiment with their own identity and they can make contacts with others. The possible dangers: The children are sitting at home in the familiar children's room, at their computer and are supposed to reveal private information. Sometimes adults pretend to be children in these chat rooms to gain confidence or to arrange a meeting. Here the rule applies: find out at www.jugendschutz.net which chat rooms are safe because a moderator checks the content. Tell your children not to give out their phone number, address or email address.

The next topic is Internet and computer games. There are a lot of good and strategic games here, because you have to think logically and react quickly. Such games can be found on www.spieleratgeber-nrw.de. Nevertheless, there is a danger that children will escape from the world and their problems with the computer. This can lead to internet addiction or computer addiction. Alarm signals are when children sit in front of the screen longer and longer, become more and more irritated and aggressive during the play-free time and meet hardly any friends. It is also important here that you do not simply prohibit the computer, but that you make clear agreements about the use of it with your children. Provide alternatives such as joint leisure activities.

The mobile phone has also become an important media tool as well as a status symbol. For some children and young people, however, the mobile phone has taken over further functions: it serves to bridge breaks and waiting times and fills loneliness and inner emptiness, if you don't know what to do with yourself.

Mobile phones are also used to exchange violent or pornographic videos. Keep an eye on your children's mobile phone, tell your child about your concerns and ask them if they've seen such videos before. Do not reproach yourself, but state that violence is fundamentally despicable and that not only the violence itself, but also these films in particular, are inhuman and punishable by law.

Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany

Text: Dr. Beatrice Wagner, Editor: Birgit Kahl