There are parents who “never” do it, like Christelle, because they want to “protect the image” of their children. Those who publish “back” photos or hide faces, like Nini. Those, again, who do it “from time to time” like Cécile. “I have to post photos of my children on Facebook about once a year,” says the mother of three teenagers. I do it mostly to show how they are growing up to friends who are far away. But since my son pointed out to me that I hadn’t asked his permission, I publish less. »
And then there are those who publish a lot. Just type in the keyword “family” or “family”, on Instagram in particular, to grasp the extent of the phenomenon. A random account on this popular network for young parents shows 2,126 photos. Images and videos of babies or toddlers, from all angles, alone or with their parents.
Among family influencers, who use the image of their children to sell products, the counter is still climbing: 3,720 photos for a Breton mother, 5,456 for another from Amiens, for example. As for the authors of family vlogs (video blogs), they expose the daily life of their children permanently.
“It is estimated that a child appears, on average, in 1,300 photographs published online before the age of 13, on his own accounts, those of his parents or relatives”, indicates Renaissance MP Bruno Studer, author a bill aimed at guaranteeing respect for children’s image rights (see opposite). The youngest are the most exposed: “75% of children photographed are between 0 and 5 years old” notes, for his part, Thomas Rohmer, director of the Observatory of parenthood and digital education (Open).
Since the advent of the smartphone, taking pictures of your children has become commonplace and posting them on social networks too, now for many parents. “It is a massive phenomenon, which continues to grow, with today an increase in video publications, especially on Facebook and TikTok, notes Thomas Rohmer. According to our surveys, the parents who do this the most are rather young and often mothers. »
These practices would also be more frequent among families “who have a deficit of digital cultural capital”, according to anthropologist Pascal Plantard. “These people mainly use technologies from the point of view of consumption and what is called the attention economy, on which the functioning of social networks is based, with the audience and the buzz, explains this specialist in uses. digital. Trapped by Internet giants, some naive parents do not realize what is at stake. Others, immature, will seek their own notoriety through the staging of their children. »
Many are unaware of the risks of this exposure. “I don’t really see where the problem is,” says Samia. People don’t care about your kids’ faces. Cecile didn’t ask herself any questions before her son’s remark either. “It was while listening to him that I became aware of the problems of visibility on the networks, she admits. It’s something he dreads. He even told me that he wouldn’t want to be known for anything in the world. »
Parents who worry mostly think about online predators. “We don’t know who can see the photos,” notes Céline. “We can do terrible things with images: from the mocking meme (1) to the disgusting montage on pornographic sites”, adds Anne. Deputy Bruno Studer confirms these fears: “50% of the photographs that are exchanged on child pornography forums were initially published by parents on their social networks”, he writes in the explanatory memorandum to his bill. Photos of naked babies or young girls in gym clothes are of particular interest to pedophile circles, according to the MP, who warns against the dissemination of information on the daily life of children because they can “allow individuals to identify their places of life and their habits for the purpose of sexual predation”.
Beyond the pedophile risk, the content posted online can generate psychological problems among young people. “Today, the exploitation of self-image, like that of our loved ones, takes precedence over the real relationship and the child may think that his parents prefer the image of him to what he really is”, analyzes the psychiatrist Serge Tisseron.
These photos, which circulate for life on the Internet, can also “have an impact on self-acceptance and one’s image, recalls Thomas Rohmer. When a teenager sees certain photos of him, baby or child, reappear in more or less advantageous situations, he may be embarrassed. It’s an age when you want to get away from your family to fly on your own, and these traces can be experienced as a form of humiliation. Not to mention that they can be used in situations of school harassment. “In adulthood too, these images can harm, adds, for his part, Serge Tisseron: “If I am a senior executive in a company and a photo of me on the pot circulates on the networks, smart people can to use it. »
Avoiding these excesses is the objective of Bruno Studer’s bill, which plans to modify the Civil Code to introduce the notion of privacy into the definition of parental authority. A law of pedagogy rather than a repressive text, which aims above all to sensitize parents to the right to the image. Publish a photo of your child without his authorization, “it is a violation of (his) right to the image, component of the right to respect for (his) private life”, recalls Claire Hédon, the defender of rights, in his last report.
“The idea is not to say that parents who publish photos of their children are bad parents,” says Thomas Rohmer. But we are witnessing an outbidding on the side of influential parents who can lead to mistreatment. “The founder of the Open denounces, in particular, the proliferation of hoaxes (for example, spreading a false message from the “children’s police”…) to “create the buzz”. “This kind of video quickly goes viral and can encourage some parents to take action without realizing that it is abuse. »
The specialist also regrets that the bill does not go further by also modifying the penal code. Serge Tisseron, he recalls “that there should be remedies for children up to 12 years old. Because from the age of 13, we do not know enough, a teenager is the legal owner of his body and should therefore be able to ask the Cnil to erase the photos without waiting for his majority. »
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