Children and young people use the Internet and cell phones a lot, depending on their stage of development, age and interests different. The way families interact with media also shapes the way it is used. Therefore, the following ages, times, and descriptions can only be Guidelines be to discuss the topic of "screen time" in the family. And more important than the exact adherence to minutes is a balanced daily routine as far as possible. Consider how much media use is fun for your child, fits into your family’s daily routine, and still leaves your child enough time for other exciting activities.
The suggested times refer to computer use. However, children and young people also spend a lot of time watching TV or z. B. Using game consoles, tablets or smartphones to spend time in front of a screen. Therefore, parents should always include total media use or. Keep track of children’s screen time.
Recommended usage times
10 to 13 years
Children approaching puberty are in a special phase of life: they want to be independent, but are still very dependent on their parents – and their circle of friends is becoming increasingly important to them. You can obtain popular website addresses from z. B. From friends or from television. At this age, video portals, social networks and mobile use of these offerings via apps are also becoming increasingly important.
Parents should continue to clearly regulate Internet and cell phone use while giving children initial freedom to do so. Installed filter and parental control programs should be set appropriately for the age and experience of the child and give the young person more and more freedom. If parents want to check surfing behavior, this should not be done behind the child’s back to avoid a breach of trust.
When it comes to usage times, parents should keep in mind that computers and the Internet are being used more and more frequently for school and factor in these times. If a family works with a weekly budget for the use of various screen media (TV, games, computer), this can be adjusted to 9 to 12 hours per week as the child gets older. If parents allow their child to use the Internet via smartphones and other mobile devices, clear rules and a certain level of trust in the child are extremely important. Because with the use of mobile devices, the child takes on a great responsibility. Depending on the operating system of the cell phone, there are also suitable settings and filter programs here. Nevertheless, when it comes to mobile use, it is comparatively more difficult for parents to keep track of the content accessed and usage times of their offspring. For many children in this age group, this may be too much for them to handle.
- Duration of use: Negotiable, ca. 60 minutes per day
14 to 17 years
Adolescents at this age strive for independence and primarily seek recognition among friends and acquaintances. Parents’ values often clash with those of their peer group.
As far as Internet use is concerned, they are usually open to and interested in all new applications and often know more about many areas than their parents do. As a rule, however, they lack the life experience to correctly assess the Web in all its facets. And so young users in particular are very "generous" when it comes to publishing private data. Aspects such as copyright and personal rights are also increasingly important.
For the younger ones in this age group, parents can help them surf the Internet safely (on the move), z. B. By adhering to jointly created internet and cell phone agreements and through ongoing conversations (see media use agreement). The tips for mobile use mentioned under "10 to 13 years" should also be followed here. As the adolescent grows older and gains more experience, parents should take more and more of a back seat and give the adolescent more freedom accordingly. Media usage contracts or similar are then no longer the right way to go about this.
- Usage time: At this age, usage times should also still be agreed, also to prevent excessive online use. It is extremely difficult to give guidelines in this age group, because the family and personal situations are too different here. Regularly check whether there is enough time left for school, education and other hobbies in addition to media use.
Media vouchers – More responsibility for the child
Media have a great attraction for children and young people. Accordingly, screen time often becomes a contentious issue in families. In addition to clear rules, especially for younger children up to approx. 12/13 years Media vouchers help. They are a good support to keep time agreements. They also help children to independently allocate the "allowed" time appropriately. This is how children gradually take on more responsibility when using media.
On media vouchers, appropriate times for certain devices/media can be entered depending on the age and experience of the child. Templates can be found below. The child hands in these vouchers to his parents when he wants to use the corresponding devices/media. Sounds complicated – but it is simple.
Example: Peter is 10 years old and is allowed to play on the game console for 3 hours a week. His parents give him 3 vouchers of 1 hour each every week. (Of course, parents could also distribute 6 vouchers of 30 minutes each).) Since he wants to play a game today that requires a longer "gamble" at a stretch, he gives his parents 2 vouchers for 2 hours. Then he can play longer on one day, but then has correspondingly less time available for the other days of the week. Parents help make sure he keeps to the times. It can also help to set an "egg timer" that rings when the time is up.
In this way, children learn to decide for themselves how they want to use their (valuable) vouchers. However, parents should still check whether the desired games/movies/videos are appropriate for their child’s age and developmental level. The agreed media times should be checked regularly and, if necessary. be adapted.
In conclusion, we would like to emphasize that media vouchers are not a Panacea and they are not the right support for all families. In case of doubt, you can simply try it out in the family.
Templates for time vouchers can be downloaded as PDF here. With the German version, the data (name of the child etc.) can be entered directly in the PDF in the colored fields and then printed out. Of course, the vouchers can also be printed out and filled in by hand. Or you can create your own vouchers together with your child and in a very creative way: