Media Education: This is how children fit in with the phone and the mobile phone


“Hello Hello?” The little ones are still chattering and holding the building block in their ear, while the older kids are holding the resonant flashing mobile toy. And most of all, of course, a real phone. From an early age, children are fascinated by the fact that you can talk in a box and hear someone else. And they note in adults: such a mobile phone should be a very important thing – adults rarely ignore it.

Therefore, even young children often show a little shyness when it comes to telephone communication. However, although all this is normal, it is advisable to practice some rules of conduct, especially given the fact that more and more children have their own smartphones as early as elementary school.

“Children should be introduced to telephony step by step,” advised media educator Erin Schultz of “Look! What your child is doing with the media.” The first step could be: Allow the child to call his parents when the doorbell rings. The following skill: calling yourself, eg the stored number for ancestors. Preschool age is usually the time to let kids pick up the phone or tap the phone icon themselves when making a call.

Report with or without a name? Experts disagree

Should they report by name afterwards? “I haven’t decided on myself yet,” Schulz admits. For Joachim Auer, who, as a business coach, practices how to properly use the phone with young interns, among other things, the answer is clear: “Later in career, it is customary to report your full name.” taught to children.

The media educator stresses that the more children are allowed to use cell phones and phones, the more important it is to have clear rules. That mom’s work cell phone is a taboo for them or they only answer if the caller’s name is known. And hang up when a stranger is at stake. “The crucial question is always what children reveal,” says Erin Schultz. “So it should be absolutely clear that you should not send pictures to strangers.”

Raising awareness of this is even more important because photos and videos have been used more naturally in daily communication since the Corona pandemic: Grandma was spoken via zoom and there was a picture of a newborn cousin every day in the Whatsapp family group.

A range of dangers that can hardly be controlled

Even young children are very skilled with devices. “It is easy to overlook the fact that of course they do not have an overview of the range of possibilities and risks,” the media educator points out and recommends a very clear comparison for child-friendly illustration: “We don’t have the ‘opening of the apartment door only to every stranger’.”

Understanding the risks is very important because children often keep their smartphones at their primary school age. A third of eight to nine-year-olds own their own devices, and between 10 and 11, that’s 75 percent, according to a 2019 Bitkom Industry Association survey.

It’s no longer just about making calls: people play games, chat, and broadcast. Iren Schulz recommends youth protection apps to limit device functionality to make it child friendly. “Privacy options should also be used in a restricted way.”

Contact by strangers is the biggest danger

She sees the greatest danger in the possibility of direct contact with children by strangers without parents noticing, for example via game chats. Nearly a quarter of children and young adults aged 8-18 were asked to make an appointment online by adults, according to a 2021 study by North Rhine-Westphalia’s state media agency.

“But some chain messages that are distributed as voice messages via messaging apps also frighten children,” Schulz says. And last but not least, it’s important to know how to handle advertising calls – or best of all, stop them immediately.

stay in the conversation

Banning everything to protect children – this is not a solution, according to Media Advisor: “The older the children, the easier it is to do without technical restrictions. Increasingly children are able to circumvent them anyway.” It is very important to establish clear rules and routines And transparent from the start, to stay connected, to take an interest in the games and apps kids use – and above all, to be a role model.

Instead of phone calling, many young people prefer to communicate via messaging services like Whatsapp — and then make an effort when they have to talk on the phone again during training or at work, notes Joachim Orr, a business coach. He has the impression that many young people find it difficult to “build a relationship over the phone”.

However, in a professional context, it is often precisely what is decisive: “Only those who win their conversation partner remain positive in their memory. That is why they may get the desired demand, or at a lower price, or they can talk about Complaint profitably.” That’s why Auer also practices the art of small talk in his courses: “Many young people can’t do that anymore.”

Practice short talk at dinner

This can easily be practiced at home with the family—using the same method that a media professional recommends: “It is always important to stay in touch,” says Auer: “Parents and children, for example, can talk about things at the dinner table in the evening Experience things Beautiful and positive all day long.”

And without constantly looking at your cell phone. Because the correct handling of cell phones and phones also includes the ability to leave them where they are when it is not appropriate – on the subway, in restaurants and above all in personal conversations. However, this will only work if the parents stick to it as well.

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