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France aims to protect children from parents oversharing pictures online

Bruno Studer, an MP for Macron's Renaissance party, says pictures of children on social media could be a risk of infringement of the privacy of minors.

France aims to protect children from parents oversharing pictures online
Cover Image Source: mother takes a photo of her newborn baby on a smartphone. (Getty Images / Vera Livchak)

You might be unaware, but there are pictures of you circulating on the internet as you read this. If you grew up in a household where your parents constantly posted pictures of you from age 1 to 20, you are all too familiar with 'oversharing' or 'sharenting.' It is a term that refers to parents who use social media to share photos or other details about their children. It does not matter if your life is miserable or you haven't had a proper shower in days, but your baby is one month old today, and you have to snap an aesthetically pleasing picture of them with good lighting and the perfect outfit. Parents share a unique relationship with Facebook, where there is a constant need for validation or a positive portrayal of parenthood. However, for Bruno Studer, an MP for Macron's Renaissance party, this could be a risk of infringement of the privacy of minors. According to Le Monde, French members of the parliament have unanimously voted to adopt laws that will prevent parents from posting photos of their kids on the internet. 

Studer put forward the proposed legislation earlier this month at l'Assemblée Nationale, and it has been approved. "A 13-year-old child has an average of 1,300 images of themself circulating on the internet. These are photos that can be misused for child pornography or that can lead to bullying in the school environment," explained Studer. The bill is a reminder that 50% of the photographs on child pornography websites had initially been posted by parents on their social media accounts.



The text aims to protect children from the excesses of certain parents, exposing them without restraint on social networks. Studer told Radio France Internationale the law aimed to "empower parents and to show young people that their 'parents do not have an absolute right over their image." Furthermore, it emphasizes the concept of the "private life" of a child in the definition of parental authority of the civil code and that the image rights of minors are exercised jointly by both parents. A judge may prohibit one of them from publishing images of the child, in cases of disagreement. If the situation escalates, the way is open "to a forced delegation of parental authority," allowing a judge to entrust a third party to protect the child's image rights.



"When we make a law proposal, it is also to debate a specific issue," said the MP, who hopes to alert parents after discovering the role played by the internet in teenagers' daily lives. He was already behind the law on child influencers adopted in 2020. The first step was to regulate the exploitation of children's images online. The objective was to protect minors on income-generating platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, or Twitch. Vanessa Lalo, a clinical psychologist, says these practices can lead to a lack of trust in parents. "From the moment the person who is supposed to make us feel safe humiliates us publicly, it can be perceived as a betrayal. This can impact self-esteem in the child's development."





"Exposing children to social media prevents them from having anonymity in the future. It can also potentially lead them to have bad practices when they have their own social media account since they are not asked for their consent and their privacy is not respected," added Lalo. In her conferences across France that deal with support groups on digital parenting, Lalo claims that parents are unaware of the consequences. "It is a good idea to include the notion of privacy protection in the definition of parental authority, but I don't think it's the laws that will educate families. It is up to all of us professionals to be able to support families with new forms of parenting."

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