French government launches platform to help parents protect kids from online porn

French authorities have launched a new platform to help parents protect their children from exposure to online pornography, on the occasion of Safer Internet Day. EURACTIV France reports.

French authorities have launched a new platform to help parents protect their children from exposure to online pornography. EURACTIV France reports.

The new platform, dubbed “Je protège mon enfant” (I protect my child), includes explanatory videos, tutorials, links to parental control applications. It was launched by Secretary of State for Digital, Cédric O, and Secretary of State for Children, Adrien Taquet on Tuesday (9 February), the occasion of Safer Internet Day.

According to an OpinionWay study conducted in 2018, 62% of young people have seen pornographic images before entering high school. 69% felt that porn had made an impact: while 23% said it had informed them, 23% admitted it had made them feel uncomfortable, and 13% felt it had put some kind of pressure on their performance.

Nowadays, the smartphone is the most popular medium used by young people, with 40% of boys and 26% of girls using it, according to an Ifop survey.

Since July 2020, the law has provided for the punishment of pornographic sites, which only require from the potential visitor “a simple declaration by the individual that he or she is at least 18 years old.”

However, alternatives are difficult to put in place. The French broadcasting regulator (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel), which is empowered to recognize and punish such offenses, encountered the matter for the first time last November.

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The Italian government is considering measures to introduce a ‘public digital identity system’ in order to better control children’s access and use of social media platforms. 

Real consequences

Compared to the pornographic tapes back in the day, content is now “direct” but above all “direct in its brutality,” explained psychiatrist Gabrielle Arena. “This brutality and easy consumption is worrying,” she added.

According to the specialist, there are several consequences. The child can feel a shock when confronted with adult bodies, something that can thus generate discomfort, complexes, and sometimes even “a feeling of disgust”.

Early consumption of pornographic content has sometimes impinged on “the imagination and fantasy” of young people, Arena noted.

In 2014, the average age when the French have their first sexual intercourse was estimated at 16.2 years of age and there was no significant difference between the sexes.

And although pornography does not always reflect reality in its relationship to the body, to the other person, and to pleasure, 41% of teenagers admitted in 2017 of having tried to reproduce practices seen in adult films.

Although parents are perhaps “the least well placed to talk about sexuality”, Athena encouraged them not to shy away from discussing the issue altogether.

For the psychiatrist, it is all about anticipating children’s exposure – 53% of teenagers inadvertently stumbled upon a pornographic video, according to the Ifop survey.

The child should be invited to be able to talk about it freely, “deconstruct” what he or she has seen, and insist that “this is cinema, these are actors who are paid and who are performing all the time,” she added.

Safer Internet Day: Let's deliver on digital literacy

On Safer Internet Day, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel writes for EURACTIV that young people should be given more support in media literacy, allowing them to avoid the pitfalls of disinformation across the online world.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/Samuel Stolton]

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