77 percent of parents in Germany are concerned about the online safety of their children. Parents of 11- to 14-year-olds are particularly concerned. The focus lies on risks of interaction, frightening content and how long they use the internet. Children and young people are particularly concerned about becoming victims of bullying, insults or hate messages. This is shown by the study "Youth Media Protection Index 2022", which has now been published.
It was conducted by the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI) and the JFF - Institute for Media Research and Media Education on behalf of the German Association for Voluntary Self-Regulation of Digital Media Service Providers (FSM e. V.).
This is the first time that empirical data on this topic has been available thanks to the Youth Media Protection Index 2017. "We observe that parents' concerns about online risks have grown compared to 2017 and that more children have already had negative online experiences," says Martin Drechsler, FSM Managing Director. "With this study, we have a tool to determine current deficits and identify necessary protection mechanisms."
92 percent of parents believe that it is their duty to protect their children from risks and negative experiences on the internet. However, they think that media providers, politicians and supervisory bodies share the responsibility. Dr. Stephan Dreyer from the HBI explains, "Parents take the actors of youth media protection more seriously than they did five years ago, but value the concrete measures of youth media protection less. This shows considerable need for action - both for the further development of measures and for promoting their acceptance."
The results show an overall decline in parents' commitment to protecting their children from online risks. Parents of 9 to 10 year olds remain as engaged as in 2017. If parents take protective measures, they mainly set time and content-related rules, observe age restrictions and talk to their children about online use.
Youth media protection measures work when they are accepted by parents and adolescents alike. Dr. Niels Brüggen, head of the research department of the JFF - Institute for Media Research and Media Education points to the fundamental trade-off: "The higher significance of online use for the everyday life of children and adolescents poses challenges for parents - especially when they have to weigh the participation needs of adolescents against online risks."
71 percent of parents agree with the statement "The protection of children or young people of my child's age is more important than easy access to all online offers". This shows a high appreciation of youth media protection. Technical measures, such as youth protection settings on devices, are considered sensible by parents and children especially for younger age groups (9- to 11-year-olds).
Despite this predominantly protection-oriented basic attitude, free access to all online offers has become significantly more important to parents and children compared to 2017. There is also a lot of agreement with the assumption that children and young people are best protected if they know how to protect themselves.
Children are using digital media increasingly earlier and for more and more areas of their lives - accelerated by the pandemic years. This also increases the awareness of risks, as well as their own experience of negative online experiences.
The Youth Media Protection Index 2022 clearly confirms the relevance of youth media protection, which must meet the individual needs of families even more than before.