Unsuitable for children depending on their age
Legislators have included this term and especially this area of concern in laws to underline how important it is for children and young people to have the opportunity of healthy development, in particular in light of the fact that minors primarily seek out answers and role models in the media.
In this context, one speaks of children and young people developing into personalities who are "independent and active members of the community". This allows Internet content which may not fit into the category of pornography "yet" to be viewed from the point of view of its potential harmful or dangerous effect on minors and pursued accordingly.
What exactly constitutes online content which is harmful or dangerous to the development of minors?
Generally, this refers to content which minors cannot process emotionally or which can overwhelm, upset, or scare them. For example, this includes erotic images which fall below the threshold of pornography or shows fetishes, as well as violent computer games and other scary images, such as pictures of battlegrounds without any context.
It is legal to disseminate content like this on the Internet. However, lawmakers do require that the respective providers ensure that their content is normally not viewed by children and young people.
What does that mean?
It is relatively easy on television. Content rated with age restrictions is only broadcast at certain later times of the day. There is a general assumption that children are no longer watching television from a certain time on.
On the Internet, content providers have a variety of options to safeguard the protection of minors from harmful media. First, providers can make content only accessible at certain times of day along the same lines of time restrictions on television. Some media libraries exercise this option.
An additional possibility is only granting access after verifying the age of the user by having them enter their identity card number. Furthermore, content providers can furnish their websites with an age rating which can be read out by suitable youth protection programmes.
When users notice online content which they deem "harmful or dangerous to the development of minors", they can use our complaint options to report it.