Tips for accompanying older children on the Internet
The following tips will help you guide your child towards independent and responsible use of the Internet:
Tip 1: Help your child gain age-appropriate online experience
At the end of primary school, most children have already learned to move safely on the net. Familiarise your child with the possibilities of accessing previously selected websites via bookmarks or favorites. Accompany your child if he or she wants to try out general search engines in addition to children’s search engines (e.g. fragFINN or Blinde Kuh). Without age- and experience-dependent filter and youth protection settings, your child can quickly and unintentionally come across problematic content. Help your child to assess the information on websites correctly.
Tip 2: Set up your child’s Internet access according to age and experience
Boys and girls under the age of 12 should better not have their own computer, under the age of 14 they should not have their own internet access in the children’s room. Please note that you can also surf with your smartphone. The family computer (e.g. in the general living area) makes concrete arrangements necessary and thus facilitates a certain control of media use.
Tip 3: Stay in touch and agree on clear rules
You should not rely on technical protection alone. It is just as important to talk to children about the challenges and dangers of the Internet and mobile phones and to set rules. This should include clear agreements on downloading music and movies and on handling personal data. The topics of rip-off, advertising and cost traps should also be discussed.
Tip 4: Surf together with your child
Let us show you the internet worlds of your child. The insight you gain is an insight into your child’s surfing habits and interests. Do not devalue pages immediately, but form a fair judgement. Remember your own experiences that you gained growing up with media and the fascination media used to have for you. Justify your decision if you want to prohibit certain sites and activities on the Internet. As a rule, the children understand your concern – even if they cannot admit it immediately – and thus learn to better assess dangers.
Tip 5: Check your own media behaviour and think of your role model function
Children orient themselves towards their parents – even when it comes to media use. Therefore our tip: Check regularly how important media are in your own life. Do you look at your smartphone even in inappropriate moments? How many hours a day do you use the Internet, television, mobile phones, etc. for your private life? This also has an effect on your child’s use of the media.
Tip 6: Share online activities and friendships with your child
Just as you talk to your child about “real” activities and friends, you should also stay in touch with them through Internet experiences and contacts. Think about how you should behave on the Internet. Make it clear to your child that he should not meet strangers he only knows from the Internet (chat, social networks, …)! If it is about a “real” friendship developing on the net, accompany your child to the first meetings (in a public place).
Tip 7: Talk about problematic content and etiquette on the Internet according to age
Despite all agreements and measures, children can come across problematic websites. Here they should know that they can involve their parents without immediately being threatened with an Internet ban or having to be ashamed. Children need support to deal with possible negative experiences. As a rule, your child can either inform you immediately or close the offers relevant to the protection of minors and tell you (or another adult confidant) about them. Using the browser history, you can then check whether the content is relevant for the protection of minors and report it if necessary.
You should also talk to older people about pornography, violence, (cyber)mobbing and other problematic Internet issues. Be sensitive and respect your child’s limits. Show them good websites on sexuality. Stay open to your children’s questions and topics.
Tip 8: Find out about excessive internet, mobile phone and computer game addiction and be vigilant
In connection with the Internet, mobile phones and digital games, the terms “excessive use”, “addiction” or “dependency” are increasingly used. Therefore, be aware of whether your child is often unable to keep to agreed times on the computer and find out about possible warning signs of addiction.