Hamburg. 07.11.2017. 73 percent of German parents are worried about their child's safety on the Internet. They fear their children might come into contact with strangers online, see images of disturbing violence or pornographic content or become the victims of data theft. As a result, the majority of parents feel obligated to protect their children from negative online experiences. However, only one third of these parents are aware of the contact points available, which are equipped to answer their questions on this subject. With adolescents, parents are mostly worried about the behaviour of other children, such as cyberbullying, the possible results of copyright infringement, technological traps, viruses or the time spent on media. These numbers are the results of the first Youth Media Protection Index
on "How to Deal with Online-Related Risks", which the Hans-Bredow-Institut implemented in cooperation with the Institute for Media Research and Media Education (JFF)
on behalf of the Association for Voluntary Self-Regulation of Digital Media Service Providers (FSM)
, which is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.
"We are observing a shift in the concerns of parents and adolescents. As they get older, the fear of coming into contact with disturbing content decreases, while worries related to a negative interaction with peers increases. The challenge will be adapting traditional youth media protection accordingly," Martin Drechsler, CEO of the FSM, explains.
During the presentation of the results in Berlin
, Hans-Bredow-Institut Director Prof. Dr. Uwe Hasebrink elaborates that even though technological youth protection is "well-known by now", there are still huge uncertainties on how it should be applied. Furthermore, experts argue that technology alone is not enough. "The important thing is that parents talk to their children, so they know what's going on," says Hasebrink. Conversations are more effective than technological systems or rules. Hasebrink also argued in favour of further developing the youth media protection system. "With the Youth Media Protection Index, we now have a solid empirical foundation. We need to continue discussing the chances and risks of online communication, adapt the youth media protection system accordingly and take all necessary steps to promote it."
"In the end, the effectiveness of these youth media protection tools will be proven during day-to-day family life. This is why the study shifts its perspective from children and parents to the interaction between them. It was important to us to include the worries of parents and their children, which had not been previously covered by other youth-media-protection-related research," says Dr. Niels Brüggen, head of the JFF research department.
For this representative study, 800 adolescents and their parents were interviewed between February and April of 2017.