JFF - Institute for Media Education in Research and PracticeCurrent report on online risks and parental media education

Social media services and games are very popular among the ten to fourteen age group and are used a lot by them. However, children and young people are confronted with many risks. Their parents are not always helpful in coping with these risks from the age group's perspective. In order to support them competently and on an equal footing in their media experience, parents need more knowledge, more engagement with the content and more empathy from the children's perspective. This is the conclusion of the monitoring study in the JFF's ACT ON! project.

ACT ON! is a project of the JFF - Institute for Media Education in Research and Practice. In the monitoring study, around 70 adolescents per year aged 10-12 and 12-14 are interviewed in research workshops. In these workshops, the preteens reported on online risks that they are confronted with in popular services such as YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp and in games such as Minecraft, Fortnite and Roblox.

It is primarily contact risks such as various forms of cyberbullying, but also content risks such as overly demanding clips, that are perceived differently in this age group and need to be dealt with. Sexual harassment, insults and hate speech, scamming as well as the risk of blackmail and kidnapping are predominantly seen by children and young people in contact with strangers. Depending on the usage situation, individual skills and their knowledge of service structures, 10 to 14-year-olds show qualitatively different strategies for dealing with these issues. Children and young people do not regard costs incurred in online games, for example, as a risk in all circumstances, but rather as an everyday element that they want to deal with confidently.  

Parents' media education efforts are primarily perceived by children in the context of contact risks in the form of deterrence narratives and de-escalation. With regard to parental concerns about unsuitable content, many parents are guided by USK and FSK age ratings and minimum age specifications for social media content. The associated access restriction is often organized for 10 to 12-year-olds through the use of parental control apps. The children's statements show that they primarily perceive their parents in a gatekeeper function with regard to media selection and online times, while comparatively few children describe a more in-depth parental involvement with media use. An exchange between parents and children about safe use options or setting up safety settings is comparatively rare.

The report "My parents have an app that allows them to control my entire cell phone" - Online risks and parental media education from the perspective of 10 to 14-year-olds is available to download free of charge in a long version as an Elaborated Report and in a short version as a Short Report.