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Adequate Online Content and Services for Children Aged 4 to 12 Years

The Internet provides plenty of information on different websites, many of which are also addressed to children. Every day new content is posted online, partly by providers who are known from other areas, partly of the users themselves (so called user-generated content). That is why it is often difficult to decide what is suitable for children and where they should not surf the web. Accompanying especially younger children when they use the internet is helpful.

If your target group is commonly unattended on the internet, you should install a child protection software on the computer, smartphone or tablet to protect them from content which is meant for adults only. Information about the various available programmes on the market is provided on the website www.sicher-online-gehen.de, where you can also find the results of the European product comparison project www.sipbench.eu.

Talk to the children about the fact that not every website is suitable for them and that they can come across content which can distress or shock them. Tell the children that you have installed a youth protection programme to restrict their encounter with such content. Ideally you and the children find out together what websites offer content which is good and appropriate for them.

A checklist has been developed in the European project POSCON which includes various aspects that should be considered in online resources for children. The following criteria play an important role: appropriate way of addressing children, attractive and appealing structure, usability, safety, reliability, privacy protection, rules for user-generated content and social media elements as well as regulations for commercial elements like advertising and online shopping.

You can find a detailed version of the Checklist: Criteria for positive content and services for children (4 to 12 years of age) on the POSCON website:
http://www.positivecontent.eu/checklist-en/

Based on the POSCON criteria we developed a short and plain twelve-point list which can help you find out if a website is suitable for children. Go and surf the web together with the children, look at websites for children and let the children assess them with the following criteria*: (This material is also suitable for distributing it to parents.)

Twelve-Point List for Parents and Children *

Find out if a website is suitable for children:

  1. The design / the appearance of the website.
    I like / I don't like
  2. I understand the issues of the website.
    Good / Not very good
  3. I understand the text on the website.
    Good / Not very good
  4. I easily find my way around the website.
    Good / Not so good
  5. The website has an additional part for adults.
    Yes / No
  6. I can easily find a contact person I can write to on this website.
    Yes / No
  7. I see ads/commercials on this website.
    Yes / No
  8. The ads/commercials are easy to differentiate from other things on the website.
    Yes / No
  9. Am I asked to buy something on the website?
    Yes / No
  10. Am I asked to state my address before I can use the website completely?
    Yes / No
  11. Am I asked to state my age before I can use the website completely?
    Yes / No
  12. I see things that frighten me on the website.
    Often / Rarely / Never

Think about every red-marked answer in collaboration with your target group and thereby find out if the website is inappropriate and should better not be used.

Depending on the age of the children, there are websites where you can accept some of the critical aspects in relation to the use by children. It is best if you can make the decision which websites should rather be avoided by mutual agreement with the children.

* The criteria are based on a selection of the items on the POSCON checklist, prepared in simple language for children.



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