In order to be able to follow the plot of a story well, children between three and six years of age are more likely to understand a linear and simple narrative style without jumps or flashbacks. A wealth of characters or numerous changes of place are not usually comprehensible by children in this age group. It is also important that the stories always have a positive ending.
A child-friendly language should be provided, primarily for audio media, but also for other types of media. Children’s common vocabulary and short sentences are more conducive for children. At the same time, varied suggestions such as new concepts, vocal variations, as well as rhythm and wordplay are enriching for the children. Written language can be also instructive in media offers for three to six year olds. Colourful, large and entertainingly designed letters can arouse curiosity when dealing with signs and writing.
Children under the age of six prefer one-dimensional characters. Media characters should therefore be clearly sorted into the categories good and bad by their actions, their attitude as well as their appearance. However, this does not mean that the characters should not be exciting and varied. The opposite is the case: characters should entertain and delight, amaze and surprise children. The social cooperation of the media characters is also important for the children. Popular characteristics are, for example, that they encourage each other or that they help each other. The characters become role models and companions and can help children to deal with current topics.
Short stories and narrative units are desirable, since the duration of media offers should not put too much strain on children's ability to concentrate and pay attention. If the period of use is not determined by the media offer itself, e.g. in television series, the period should be discussed and controlled beforehand.
When selecting media offers for children between the ages of three and six, care should continue to be taken to ensure that they contain as little advertising as possible. Younger children find it difficult to distinguish between advertising messages and actual content. Adult advertising in particular could be a source of concern for children due to inappropriate content.
With children's apps, handling and control are additional features of child-friendly media. Although children's apps should always be used when accompanied by adults or older siblings, it still makes sense if interactive content is clearly visible and navigation is playful (e.g. by using symbols instead of writing).
In addition, reading media assessments written by media experts can be very helpful for both ECEC professionals and parents. A large number of initiatives and testing agencies are intensively concerned with the evaluation of different offers and explain the most important criteria for their judgement.
By talking to the child about his or her specific media interest, adults can better understand the child's views and take them into account when pre-selecting appropriate media offers.
The right choice of media for children is an important and frequently discussed topic in families. In order to help parents with their assessment, ECEC centres can offer advice and information if they are duly interested.