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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.8 Media literacy and safe use of new media

Last update: 24 May 2024
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  1. National strategy
  2. Media literacy and online safety through formal education
  3. Promoting media literacy and online safety through non-formal and informal learning
  4. Raising awareness about the risks posed by new media

National strategy

The German Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors (Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag, JMStV) is the standardised legal basis for the protection of minors in the media of radio, television and the internet. It regulates when, how and what media content may be broadcast or distributed. The aim is to protect children and young people from electronic information and communication media services that may impair or jeopardise their development or education. In addition, it is designed to protect against electronic information and communication media that violate their human dignity or other legal interests protected by the German Criminal Code. The JMStV was last amended in 2020; amendments were also made to the new Youth Protection Act (Jugendschutzgesetz - JuSchG) in 2021.

In Germany, there is no national strategy for media literacy and safe use of new media, but these topics are the subject of various laws, initiatives and resolutions. Key actors in this area at federal level include the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV)Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) and the Federal Ministry of Justice (BMJ). The Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (Bundeszentrale für Kinder- und Jugendmedienschutz, BZKJ) and the German Federal Centre for Health Education (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung, BZgA) also perform important tasks in this context. As most areas of education in Germany are the responsibility of the federal states, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK), as the permanent representation of the education ministers of the federal states, also makes recommendations and resolutions on the issue of media education in general schools, vocational schools and universities.

The Youth Protection Act (Jugendschutzgesetz, JuSchG) of 2002 forms the legal framework for the protection of children and young people from dangers to their mental, emotional and physical well-being. Among other things, it sets age limits for attendance at public film events or for the sale of computer games. The reform of the Youth Protection Act (Reform des JuSchG) in 2021 made amendments in the area of digital media. For example, internet services are now obliged to take precautionary measures to protect the personal integrity of children and young people, and regulations on age labelling for computer games and films have been updated. In addition, as part of the legislative reform, the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (Bundeszentrale für Kinder- und Jugendmedienschutz, BZKJ) was established as the successor institution to the former Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Minors (Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien - BPjM). The BZKJ is an independent higher federal authority under the BMFSFJ. 

The Network Enforcement Act (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, NetzDG)) of 2017 operates at the interface of media literacy, youth protection and internet policy. The law aims to combat online hate speech and make social media service providers more accountable. In April 2023, the Federal Ministry of Justice (BMJ) also presented key points for a law against digital violence (Eckpunkte für ein Gesetz gegen digitale Gewalt), which aims to improve legal options for private individuals to take action against violations of their rights in the digital space. The law was mandated by the coalition agreement.

In addition to this legal framework, there are various initiatives of the federal government aimed at advancing digital education in Germany. These include a new digital strategy (Digitalstrategieadopted in 2022 under the leadership of BMDV, which sets out digital advances up to 2025. One of the strategy’s three fields of action is the ‘networked society’, which includes also the topic of ‘education in all phases of life’. This underscores the importance of lifelong learning in the digital world and formulates strategies for school education, higher education and continuing education. As part of the new Digital Pact 2.0, schools will take a simple and flexible approach to teaching digital skills. In higher education, the federal government is seeking to increasingly promote dialogue between the federal states and universities. A particular focus of these efforts will be on girls and women.

With its Digital Education Initiative (Initiative Digitale Bildung), the BMBF aims to improve learning, teaching, instruction and training across the entire educational pathway with the aim of enabling all generations to navigate the digital world with confidence. To this end, it not only supports construction of the digital infrastructure required, but also development of digital learning tools and training for teaching staff.

BMFSFJ supports the development of media skills through various activities. These are aimed at parents and professionals, as well as at children and young people. Individual initiatives are described in greater detail in the following section.

Finally, the KMK sets out goals and areas of activity in the field of media education in its various resolutions and strategies. The declaration on media education in schools (Erklärung zur Medienbildung in der Schule (PDF, 191 KB) of 2012 remains valid today and is intended to provide schools and teachers with guidance on media education in their teaching and to help mainstream media education as a compulsory element of school education in the long term.

In its Strategy on Education in the Digital World (Strategie 'Bildung in der digitalen Welt' (PDF, 2.6 MB), the KMK sets out guidelines for the further development of digital learning at general schools, vocational schools, universities and further education. The KMK’s strategy seeks firstly to ensure that federal states include in their curricula and education plans the teaching of skills required for ‘active, self-determined participation in a digital world’. Secondly, digital learning environments should be systematically integrated into the design of teaching and learning processes.

In a 2021 Supplement to the Strategy on Education in the Digital World (Ergänzung zur Strategie ‘Bildung in der digitalen Welt’), the KMK amplifies the detail on various aspects and places a focus on teaching in addition to learning. It addresses measures for school development and the design of digitally supported teaching and learning processes, as well as the competences of teachers and their initial, advanced and continuing training.

In an annual report (Bericht), the KMK reports on the implementation status of activities introduced by the federal states with regard to teaching and learning in the digital world.

Media literacy and online safety through formal education

Integration in curricula

In the aforementioned Strategy on Education in the Digital World (Strategie 'Bildung in der digitalen Welt' (PDF, 2.6 MB), the KMK sets out the objective that federal states should include in their curricula and education plans the skills required for ‘active, self-determined participation in a digital world’. For general education schools, this is not to be implemented as an individual subject through a separate curriculum, but as an integral part of the curricula for all subjects. In its strategy, the KMK also defines the skills it considers relevant in this context. These are skills in the areas of ‘searching, processing, storing’, ‘communicating and cooperating’, ‘producing and presenting’, ‘protecting and acting safely’, ‘problem-solving and acting’, ‘analysing and reflecting’. 

The KMK also sees the acquisition of skills in the context of digital work and business processes as an interdisciplinary cross-sectional task in vocational schools. In its strategy, it formulates requirements that are intended to provide teachers with guidance on a specific educational programme or profession. It sets out the following requirements: ‘application and use of digital devices and work techniques’, ‘personal professional skills’, ‘self-management and self-organisation skills’, ‘international thinking and acting’, ‘project-oriented forms of cooperation’, ‘data protection and data security’, ‘critical handling of digitally networked media and the consequences of digitalisation for the living and working environment’.

Finally, in the field of higher education, the KMK formulates the objective that universities must take into account the possibilities, opportunities and requirements of digitalisation when developing their curricula. It calls upon teaching staff to develop curricula in terms of skills acquisition to use and apply digital media and tools, while at the same time respecting the autonomy of universities and their freedom for research and teaching.

Implementation of these areas of activity set out by the KMK is the responsibility of the federal states or the universities. Information on the various framework plans, concepts and curricula of the federal states in the field of media education and training can be found on the website of the German Education Server (Rahmenplänen, Konzepten und Curricula der Bundesländer im Bereich der Medienbildung/-erziehung).

In many federal states, so-called media passports or media driving licences have also been developed to boost and document the media literacy of children and young people. These can also serve as guidance for schools and teachers and can be integrated into the curriculum. Examples include the Bavarian media licence (Medienführerschein Bayern) and the media passports of Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia (Medienpass HamburgNordrhein-Westfalen). 

Topics addressed

The skills taught in lessons or training are essentially those defined by the KMK in its Strategy on Education in the Digital World (Strategie 'Bildung in der digitalen Welt' (PDF, 2.6 MB), set out in the previous section. For general education schools, the KMK defines further subgroups for each of the aforementioned areas. For example, ‘protecting and acting safely’ includes skills in the areas of ‘acting safely in digital environments, ‘protecting personal data and privacy’, ‘protecting health’ and ‘protecting nature and the environment’, while ‘communicating and cooperating’ includes the skills of ‘interacting’, ‘sharing’, ‘collaborating’, ‘knowing and complying with rules of behaviour’ and ‘actively participating in society’.

Support for teachers

As already mentioned in the section 6.7 entitled Skills for Innovation, for several years the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been pursuing an OER strategy (OER-Strategie), the aim of which is to enable free access to teaching and learning materials. Teaching materials for different subjects and school types, as well as materials on interdisciplinary topics such as media skills, are available on the website of the German Education Server (Bildungsserver). 

Initial, further and continuing training also plays an important role in supporting teachers in the area of media education. The KMK also turns its focus on the training and professionalisation of teachers in its Supplement to the Strategy on Education in the Digital World (Ergänzung zur Strategie ‘Bildung in der digitalen Welt’). Among other things, it calls for the three phases of teacher training to be more closely linked and for theoretical and empirical insights to be integrated with practical experience in the context of advancing digitalisation.

This is organised decentrally at federal state level; KMK provides an overview of the relevant institutes and academies (Überblick über die jeweiligen Institute und Akademien). In addition to the state institutes for teacher training and school development, the state media authorities (Landesanstalten für Medien) also organise relevant events. The state media authorities also provide materials on media education on their respective websites. 

In addition, various other platforms also offer teaching materials and further information on media education that may be helpful to teachers. These portals include the following:

  • The website Ins Netz gehen, run on behalf of the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA), provides teachers and other target groups with materials and information on the subject of media literacy. 
  • The klicksafe portal also provides teaching materials for primary and secondary school teachers and educational professionals. Klicksafe is an EU initiative that aims to boost media literacy.
  • The Internet ABC for Teachers website (Internet-ABC für Lehrkräfte)  provides teachers with help in preparing children and young people for the internet. Here you will find teaching materials, tips for using Internet ABC in the classroom and information about 'school children and the media'.
  • is a media literacy platform operated by ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio, which is aimed at teachers, pupils and others. 

Further information on these portals can also be found in Section 6.8.4 Raising awareness of the risks of new media.

Finally, teachers can also receive support as part of the so-called ‘peer education’ approach, in which young people impart knowledge and skills to other young people. For example, the BZgA-funded Net Pilots project (Net-Piloten ) provides training for pupils who then run workshops in classes to strengthen the media skills of their peers. The Media Scouts NRW project (Medienscouts NRW) run by the media authority of North Rhine-Westphalia pursues a similar concept, training small groups of pupils in secondary schools to become media-literate scouts supported by counsellors.

Promoting media literacy and online safety through non-formal and informal learning

At federal level, the Federal Ministry for Youth and Young People (BMFSFJ) funds various projects to strengthen media skills (BMFSFJ verschiedene Projekte zur Stärkung der Medienkompetenz). The purpose of these is to improve media education skills among parents and professionals, support good media programmes for children and young people and promote the creative and responsible use of media. They include the following projects:

  • The ‘Look out!‘ (Schau hin!) initiative, which was launched in 2003, informs parents and carers about digital media and raises awareness of the opportunities and risks. The website offers recommendations for action in various areas of media. Parents can also ask questions in a live chat.
  • The ‘Growing up well with media’ initiative (Gutes Aufwachsen mit Medien) supports and advises educational professionals, volunteers and parents on media education for children and young people through editorial content and digital training formats. The office also promotes media education cooperation between institutions at a local level. 
  • The ACT ON! project (ACT ON! aktiv + selbstbestimmt online) is a media educational research and practice-based project that focuses on the online behaviour of adolescents aged 10 to 14. The opinions of young people are at the heart of the project. The results are intended to provide information on further developing support for media literacy and in so doing establish a basis for protecting minors from harmful media.
  • Awarded by BMFSFJ and the Society for Media Education and Communication Culture (Gesellschaft für Medienpädagogik und Kommunikationskultur), the Dieter Baacke Prize recognises outstanding media projects that promote media literacy in educational, social and cultural fields.
  • The German Multimedia Prize mb21 is a nationwide competition that recognises digital interactive works by children, adolescents and young adults up to the age of 25. Germany’s Children and Youth Film Centre (Kinder - und Jugendfilmzentrum in Deutschland (KJF) is one of the competition’s implementing partners. On behalf of BMFSFJ, it organises creative competitions, publishes film recommendations and develops concepts and content for the teaching of media literacy. The aim is to promote young people’s creativity in handling media.
  • TINCON  is an interdisciplinary festival for digital youth culture that teaches media literacy and social participation across a broad range of topics aimed at the younger digital generation of 13 to 21-year-olds. 

In addition to BMFSFJ, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und MedienBKM) also supports initiatives and projects to support literacy in the media, information and news. They include the following:

  • As part of the strategy to prevent extremism, from 2021 to 2023 BKM is funding the Call of Prev project run by cultures interactive. An online game geared to prevention work is being developed in joint workshops involving teenagers and young adults. The aim is to engage in dialogue with young people on democracy and human rights and open up new viewpoints for them. It is hoped that this will help young people to expand their media skills and experience digital self-efficacy.
  • The Nachgefragt - fragFINN-Kinderreporter project gives children and young people an opportunity to prepare media topics for their peers and make reports about them in short videos. The project’s aim is to strengthen the news literacy of children and young people by getting them to report to each other on the opportunities and risks associated with individual media. 
  • The RISE project (RISE - Jugendkulturelle Antworten auf islamistischen Extremismus) , which addresses the cultural responses of young people to Islamist extremism, aims to strengthen the processes by which young people form opinions, improve their argumentation skills and raise awareness of how to deal critically with extremist messages. 

The Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (Bundeszentrale für Kinder- und Jugendmedienschutz, BzKJ) supports measures of supra-regional significance that contribute to further developing the protection of children and young people in the media. Projects that are eligible for funding are those that support the right to age-appropriate, carefree digital participation, empowerment and self-protection.  A particular focus is on measures that involve children and young people as well as digital media providers.  The BzKJ is also home to the ZUKUNFTSWERKSTATT, which is committed to the guiding principle that sustainable child and youth media protection must be considered from the perspective of the child. It brings together various stakeholders within different formats with the aim of jointly implementing the rights of children and young people to protection, empowerment and participation in relation to digital media use.

At federal state level, the state media authorities (Landesmedienanstalten) fulfil their mandate to promote media education for young people. They offer a wide range of projects. One example is the Handysektor project run by the Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia, which aims to raise awareness among young users of the potential dangers of mobile phone use and encourage them to use smartphones responsibly and thoughtfully. The youth protection and media literacy report (Jugendschutz- und Medienkompetenzbericht) by the state media authorities provides an overview of other best practice examples from the federal states. Further information on media literacy programmes offered by the state media authorities (Medienkompetenzangeboten der Landesmedienanstalten ) can be found on the websites of the media authorities.

There are also various opportunities for further training and counselling for employees involved in child and youth welfare services, youth work and multipliers beyond the services mentioned. Examples include the Federal Agency for Civic Education, with its collection of materials on media education (Materialiensammlung zu Medienpädagogik), or the services of the Federal Centre for Health Education (BzGA). Specialised training courses on media skills and media education in child and youth welfare are also offered by the  International Association for Educational Assistance (IGfH)  (Medienkompetenz und Medienpädagogik in der Kinder- und Jugendhilfe: Zweiteilige berufsbegleitende Weiterbildung) and the Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) with its training courses for qualifications in media education (Fortbildungen zur medienpädagogischen Qualifizierung). 

Raising awareness about the risks posed by new media

In Germany, various institutions provide counselling services to raise awareness of the opportunities and risks of new media. These include in particular:

The Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (Bundeszentrale für Kinder- und Jugendmedienschutz, BzKJ) assesses whether media content is harmful to minors or not; it also carries out media education and raises awareness. Among other things, it provides information for parents, children and young people, teachers and specialists, and publishes recommended media education links on its website. 

TheFederal Centre for Health Education (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung, BzgA) is responsible, among other things, for ‘addiction prevention’. BZgA also operates the website Ins Netz gehen, which provides materials and information on the topic of media literacy for teachers, specialists and other target groups. 

At federal state level, the state media authorities (Landesmedienanstalten) fulfil their mandate to promote media literacy and raise awareness. To this end, the state media authorities are involved in the following initiatives:

  • The state media authorities of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia are responsible in Germany for implementing the EU’s klicksafe initiative, which aims to promote the population’s online skills. To this end, klicksafe pools and develops information and services for safe, competent and self-determined internet use. The particular focus is on people who support children and young people in developing their internet skills, i.e. parents, teachers, specialists and multipliers. In addition, klicksafe networks initiatives and stakeholders in Germany and Europe to promote media literacy on the internet.
  • The state media authorities are also members of the non-profit organisation Internet-ABC, which operates the Internet-ABC platform. Here, children and young people can learn the basics of internet use safely and responsibly; parents and teachers receive background information and support.
  • Seven state media authorities operate the portal, which provides young people with online advice on cyberbullying and other online problems. Juuuport also offers online seminars and trains young people to become juuuport scouts, who offer peer-to-peer support in the event of negative online experiences. The portal is supported from BMFSFJ funding.

The portal, which was founded in 1997 as a central hub for all German states and has a legal mandate, is also supported by the state media authorities, BMFSFJ and the Supreme Youth Protection Authorities of the Federal States (OLJB). scans the internet for dangers to children and young people. It focuses on topics such as self-harm, political extremism, sexualised violence, harassment and cyberbullying. Violations can also be reported online. The results are processed for different target groups. For example, the Infoservice of provides information about current risks and offers practical tips.

BMFSFJ also supports the initiative ‘Look out!’ (Schau Hin! Was Dein Kind mit Medien macht  – see section on Promoting media skills and online safety through non-formal and informal learning).

Until 2015, BMFSFJ also funded the online anti-bullying initiative Mobbing – Schluss damit!' for children, young people, adults and schools. This website still exists.

In the past, BMFSFJ has also supported the No-Hate-Speech campaign, which was launched by the Council of Europe in 2012. In Germany, the project is monitored by Neue deutsche Medienmacher (NdM). It campaigns against disinformation on the internet and through its campaign work aims to educate and raise public awareness.

Other counselling services, including on the issue of cyberbullying, can be found on the following websites: