The French government is a step closer to banning parents from sharing the lives of their kids online. As part of its privacy laws, the French national assembly passed legislation earlier this week that would penalise parents who share their children's photos online. Parents would lose their "image rights" over their children if the photo affected the child’s dignity or morality.
Although the bill has yet to be approved by the Senate and the President, it has been appreciated by many child psychologists and social media experts.
MP Bruno, who was behind the bill, emphasised that the goal was to empower parents by establishing the protection of privacy as one of the responsibilities of parents.
France Bans Parents Posting Kids Photo
In recent times, sharing children's images on social media has gone overboard. Some parents literally share every activity with their children. Now, one might argue that it is a parent’s right to post photos and videos of their children. Yes, we give birth to our children, but we don’t own them. Our children didn’t ask to be born; we had them because we wanted to become parents. They don’t owe us anything. It's high time for parents to recognise that their children, no matter how young they are, are individuals whose consent is important.
As a parent myself, I can understand that it would be difficult, especially because we do everything for them, which unconsciously gives us a sense of ownership over them. Besides, respectful parenting was an alien concept when we were growing up, so it’s alright for us to take time to process this, but we need to.
We come across a lot of parents who open an Instagram page for their children, post photos of them right from birth, and plan to give them to them once they are older. While this is a great idea, it’s not okay to post photos of a child’s private moments. No matter how funny a bath or potty training session is, it cannot go on the gram!
Haven’t many of us been embarrassed by the naked baby photos that our parents have taken of us? Some of them are even framed; some are shared with our friends when they visit, and it makes us cringe. Now imagine how our children would feel when they grow up and see their naked photos on social media. Won’t they feel embarrassed that their private moments and their bodies have been exposed on the internet all these years?
Now, one might argue that they are only posting photos on a private account. Having a private or public account doesn’t really matter because people get hacked all the time. From Barack Obama to Kim Kardashian, many celebrities have been hacked. How long is it going to take for a paedophile hacker to hack into our accounts and steal all of our children’s private pictures, or any pictures for that matter? Besides, do we really know everything about the people that we know? Unfortunately, anyone could have a vicious devil inside them that we never knew of.
Social media is a very comfortable platform for paedophiles to find and reach their targets. In 2021, the National Crime Records Bureau recorded 33,348 incidents of sexual assault cases under the POCSO Act, with 33036 girls and 312 boys. Considering the scary, rising numbers of sexual crimes against children, we need to be extremely cautious, even with the kind of photos that we post on social media. While it’s alright to click naked photos of cute little baby bums, or any photo of our kids, can we keep those treasures only for ourselves and stop sharing them on social media?
Considering the scary, rising numbers of sexual crimes against children, we need to be extremely cautious, even with the kind of photos that we post on social media.
As parents, isn’t it our responsibility to teach consent, agency, and bodily autonomy to our children? Won’t it be hypocritical of us to not practise what we preach? It's vital that we respect the agency of the little ones, who aren't old enough to figure out what they want. In the case of older children, we must ask for their consent before posting their photos online. This may appear to be exhausting and unnecessary, but these are small acts that help foster respectful parenting. After all, they are individuals with agency of their own.
The views expressed are the author's own.
Suggested Reading: Writing About Children Shouldn’t Disrespect Their Agency