Exposing your children on the Internet: what are the risks?

Exposer ses enfants sur Internet : quels sont les risques ?

Sharing photos of your family life on Facebook or Instagram is not trivial. 42% of young people believe that their parents post too many photos of them on social networks. Advice from Michaël Stora, psychologist.

If some parents post sparingly a few pictures of their children on social networks, others are strafing their Facebook or Instagram community with their every move. Liked, commented, and shared … These photos, considered harmless, can quickly go around the web and be seen by hundreds of people without the child’s consent. Besides Altantic and in England, this phenomenon even has a name: it is “sharenting “ (a suitcase word meaning “parental sharing”) which refers to the daily exhibition on the part of certain parents with their children on social networks. According to one Microsoft study of teens from 25 countries, young people are tired of being posted on the web. 42% of them believe that their parents publish too much content that concerns them. But what does the law say? What does this display of privacy reveal? Explanations and advice from Michaël Stora, psychologist and founder-president of the Observatory of digital worlds in human sciences (OMNSH)

Rich information for advertisers. Released in late November 2018, the British Children’s Commissioner report titled “Who knows what about me “, shows thata 13 year old child already has 1300 photos and videos of him on average published by his parents on the net. Between 11 and 16 years old, teens post themselves on social networks, 26 times a day according to the study. Finally, taking into account connected toys, tablets and smartphones, there would be around 70,000 information about it at the age of 18. Online pregnancy announcement, birth of your baby, first school days and birthdays … This is how companies can know the child’s first name, date of birth, or even address, in case of geolocation the back to school day for example.

What does this overexposure on the net translate?

“Facebook or Instagram are showcases where the child is considered a parental narcissistic extension, or a trophy form “

The child is never completely in control of his image, since he is often (over) photographed by his parents since birth“Michaël Stora poses straight away. Wanting to capture moments of life and show them to your loved ones has always existed and remains a legitimate and fairly healthy reaction. On the other hand, sharing them excessively on social networks is different:”Facebook or Instagram are “showcase” social networks on which there is a democratization of the idealized image. In other words: we are not going to put any photo in it and we of course take care to choose photos of moments of joy, unusual, tender, pleasant … to enhance ourselves and show a positive image of our life“, explains the specialist in the digital worlds. What is published on these networks would not represent real life, but it would be platforms where the child would be considered as a parental narcissistic extension, or even as a trophy form“.”Obviously any parent has the right to be proud of their children when they take their first steps or pass their bac, reassures the psychologist, but why would we need to show each moment of life to the greatest number, or to virtual friends?“In the digital age, the child could become a representative of parental ideals, thereby blocking parental anxiety or a feeling of guilt (when parents work too much for example).

This phenomenon may reveal narcissistic fragility with the parent. For some, if this or that event is not photographed and shared on the networks, it is as if they did not exist. And above all, it’s the gaze of others that takes precedence over everything. “Indeed, these publications are constantly liked and commented on. Recognition thus becomes proportional to the number of likes or other reactions (we can now comment on each photo with a sad, disgusted, laughing emoji …). It’s permanent judgment“, denounces the psychologist. While a pride or a joyous moment shared within the family unit should be enough to make them happy. Finally, where it is even more unhealthy is that some parents keep YouTube channels on which they share their child’s daily life – like reality TV – with several million views. And as many Internet users who comment and give their opinion, sometimes in a benevolent way, sometimes not. benefits on the privacy of their children. “In this context, the psychic links are not very healthy insofar as certain parents have objectives of number of views or blue inches“, regrets the expert.

Sharenting and children’s exposure on social media: what does the law say?

“It is important to protect the privacy of minors and their image on social networks”

In the Internet bubble, it is with cases of jurisprudence that we begin to establish laws, because there is currently no law concerning the right to the image specific to the exposure on social networks. In concrete terms, parents have the right to post photos of their children on social networks because minors share their image rights with their parents until they reach the age of majority.“, explains the specialist. However, the right to the image (as for any individual), article 9 of the civil code, may apply and children exposed without their knowledge could, as soon as their age permits, file a lawsuit against their parents. In France, the publication of a photograph of a person without his agreement is punishable by one year of imprisonment and a 45,000 euro fine according to article 226-1 of the penal code. In 2016, a young Austrian girl turned on her parents when she came of age. Reason for complaint: violation of his right to respect for his private life. Indeed, the parents had published more than 500 “annoying” photos of the girl on Facebook (on the potty, when she had her diaper changed …). The trial is underway. Still, “posting photos of his children on Facebook is not without danger! It is important to protect the privacy of minors and their image on social networks”, can we read about an awareness campaign organized by the gendarmerie in February 2016, in response to Motherhood challenge, chain Facebook inviting parents to post three photos of their children and designate another mom, so she can do the same.

Concretely, how far can we go?

  • When they are old enough to answer this question, we can consider ask their children if they allow their parents to put their image on social networks, “because this is the right to the image of the child. It has an existence by itself, its own digital identity“. By putting photos of him on the Internet and not necessarily talking about the exposure to malicious people or to internet predators (you must still take this into account!), You are already creating an e-reputation and a media image for him. that he doesn’t necessarily want to have and manage. Before this age, it is better to avoid posting photos of his children on the networks, especially those naked or in swimsuits (even if they are babies) , class photos (where the school address can easily be recognized) …
  • Ideally, parent should ask questions every time that he wants to put his child’s photo on the Internet. “I advise them rather to privilege the private groups Whatsapp or Facebook where they can control who can see the photo. It is a good way to exchange in a limited setting“, advocates Michaël Stora.
  • Parents can play on privacy settings and should prefer private publications that are not visible to everyone (public). Jay Parikh, Facebook engineering manager, mentioned the creation of a new tool at a conference in 2015. The principle: notify parents who shared a photo of a minor in public . For the moment, this tool is not yet available.
  • Finally, set an example: spreading photos excessively does not help the child to judge what is good or not to post on the Internet.

In short, “we must not demonize social networks and image sharing. What should be wary of is rather the philosophy that these social networks convey. A philosophy of a world where everything is fine, where everyone must be beautiful and efficient, but which can be quite tyrannical. The child should not be a fetish of parental ideals“, concludes Michaël Stora.

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