What do child and youth protection programs do?

Children need protection from developmentally harmful content on the Internet. In addition to sound media education in the family, filter solutions can provide support, e.g. by making only a protected surfing space accessible (whitelist principle) or blocking content that is harmful to development (blacklist principle).

Parents should accompany their children closely during their first steps on the Internet and familiarize them with the rules. It is a good idea to provide children with a manageable range of child-friendly websites at the beginning. With all common operating systems, you can create a separate user account for each family member. When the children then log in under their name, they will find the websites selected for them there.

However, this does not block unsuitable Internet sites. This only works with a filter program. Such a program can be set so rigidly that it only opens websites that have been approved by parents or other guardians. With these so-called positive lists (whitelists), the rest of the WWW remains hidden from the children. This is a safe method for parents who don't always accompany their offspring on their online excursions and who want to make sure that their children don't venture into the net without permission. Negative lists(blacklists) contain sites that are not suitable for the corresponding age group. The listed websites are blocked from access.

Caution: Negative lists do not offer one hundred percent protection against confrontation with problematic content and cannot replace parental media education. As an accompanying measure, they can relieve parents.

The age-appropriate combination of technical measures and educational means is most likely to provide safety, even if there is no guarantee of safe surfing! The basic principle should be: Do not preserve, but strengthen!

The Medien-kindersicher.de portal informs parents about technical protection solutions for their child's devices, services and apps. With the Medien-kindersicher wizard, parents can create a customized protection solution based on their child's age and the devices and services they use.

How reliably do child and youth protection programs block problematic offerings?

It is currently not possible to provide comprehensive technical protection on the Internet because it consists of an abundance of websites and different services such as social media, e-mail, instant messaging, and file sharing. Child and youth protection programs currently offer limited protection at most when calling up websites. Filter programs are ineffective when it comes to e-mailing or chatting and social media services. It is true that some filter programs allow you to block such services. However, there is always the risk that the blocking will be circumvented.

Problem areas

Parental control filters do not offer one hundred percent security. They must be continuously developed to reflect the current state of the art. User-generated content in social media services still causes problems for parental control programs. Nevertheless, you should not do without a parental control filter, because it can support your security efforts. Parental control programs block at least some of the problematic sites, and they offer help in restricting the surfing space to content that is suitable for children, for example. If the child wants to go to sites that are unnecessarily blocked by the filter, you can add your own entries.

Recognized child and youth protection programs

In the best case, filtering software blocks as many unwanted sites as possible and allows the majority of unproblematic sites. Several user accounts should be adjustable -  suitable for the age of the respective child. The filter should be easy to use for adults, but difficult for children to crack. The Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia (FSM) tests such youth protection programs. Here you can find information about requirements for youth protection programs in the FSM's recognition procedure.

The recognized youth protection program JusProg can be used free of charge for all end devices.

Avoiding dangers - security tips from the BSI

Tips for safe surfing

The first step: create a separate user account for each child - depending on their age - with restricted rights. As children get older, controlling Internet use becomes increasingly difficult, as young people know exactly how quickly and easily parental controls can be circumvented. Jointly negotiated agreements therefore become all the more important.

A responsible companion is the best protection and filter for younger children. As long as you sit next to them, nothing can happen. In addition, a comprehensive positive list can open up a safe surfing space for younger children. The fragFINN wh itelist offers children the opportunity to discover the Internet in a safe surfing space, to gain positive first online experiences and to acquire important skills while playing, learning, communicating and becoming creative online. The whitelist consists of around 14,000 checked websites (including ad servers and supplementary URLs) and thus includes around 4,000 online offers.

Do not let children search with adult search engines such as Google, bing or yahoo. Children can also find what they are looking for with children's search engines. On our children's page you will find children's search engines and an overview of other child-friendly web offers for safe entry into the Internet.

Older children need greater freedom of movement and cannot be permanently controlled by their parents. A youth protection program that works with a negative list is useful in these cases. There is a wide range of youth protection programs, including both free and paid programs. Please note: Parental control programs do not offer one hundred percent security. Nevertheless, you should not do without a parental control filter, because it can support your security efforts.

Establish online rules together with your children: these include time limits and restrictions for all screen media consumption, but also rules of conduct for online communication. Post the rules visibly above the surfing area. Discuss the consequences of not adhering to the agreements. The agreements should be reviewed again and again and updated and adapted as the children grow older. We offer a media use agreement for creating rules. Here you can find more information about screen time and media time.

Find out about your child's online activities on a regular basis. Ask about their current favorite sites or games on the web and find out about them. Although your offspring are often more familiar with the latest Internet services, they lack the life experience to properly assess the Web in all its facets. You should not rely on technical protection alone. It is at least as important to talk to children about the problematic aspects of the Internet. Children should always feel they can talk openly with their parents about unpleasant experiences on the Net. Also, observe how much time your child spends on the net. Look at what exactly he or she is doing and discuss how useful or perhaps time-wasting the online activity is.

Do not blame your child if problematic web content has been displayed despite all agreements and precautions. This can easily happen unintentionally with one wrong click. In addition, fear of punishment such as an Internet ban can lead to your child trying to solve Internet-related problems on their own. This leads to excessive demands, especially for younger children, and stands in the way of an open exchange.

Internet sites that provide direct access to pornographic, violent or other problematic content without access barriers can be reported to the appropriate reporting and complaints offices. These check the content and initiate the necessary steps.