The impact of representations of sex and violence on television cannot be dealt with merely by implementing legal measures or by introducing methods of self-regulation. In light of the abundance of German TV channels and the growth in the number of European channels available via satellite, a comprehensive reduction in representations of violence in the media cannot be achieved simply by tightening the regulations in Germany. Licensed abroad, the European channels are by and large able to broadcast programmes without heeding the limits set by the German Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag: JMStV).
Technical developments (data compression, copying digital data) will support what educationalists already know: an adolescent who wants to watch a certain (harmful) channel will always find a way to do so, regardless of strict legal regulations. What can be limited, however, is the ease of access to such programmes.
Thus, educational measures should be one of the main focuses of protecting young people. Laws can support measures to inform people about how to protect minors, though never replace them. The general aim should be developing young people’s abilities to use media in a competent and critical way. It is also important to inform parents and teachers about the effects of excessive television consumption and about educational and legal measures to protect minors. A further important aim is informing adults about the ways in which children use media and providing educational aid.
Teaching units for media education in primary school
The FSF has published teaching units for media education in primary schools. The goal is to provide teachers with manageable material with specific modules that can be integrated into their lessons. In addition, the publications introduce the work of existing institutions and projects and provides information on what is offered in terms of media education in Germany.
Media projects with children and young people
The FSF, working in cooperation with schools, organises media projects with children and young people. The aim of these events is to make television consumption a subject for discussion – a critical reflection on one’s own media consumption; a reflection on how television is integrated into one’s own life; discussing attitudes to moral values resulting from the media – and to develop a practical skills for handling the media, e.g. film analysis, information about production processes, background information, commercial links, creating one’s own productions, acquiring knowledge about special effects, support in dealing with fear and practising different ways of distancing oneself.