What do children and teenagers watch on their smartphones? This question concerns more or less the families, very divided on the dangers and the benefits of Internet. Only 46% of them install parental control software, according to the National Commission for Computing and Freedom, while exposure times are exploding, among ever younger children. From the age of 2, children are now on screen, and 82% of 10-14 year olds say they regularly go on the Internet without their parents, according to the latest barometer from Unaf (National Union of Family Associations).
→ READ. A digital campaign against the overexposure of children to screens
These findings worry MP Bruno Studer (LREM, Bas-Rhin), whose law “aiming to encourage parental control” must be definitively adopted on Tuesday. “Children are exposed to inappropriate, shocking or illegal content at an excessively early age, justifies the chosen one. It is estimated that at age 12 a third of children have already been exposed to pornographic content. It is also to hateful and violent content, even to the action of criminal, terrorist and pedophile networks that our children may be exposed. » Each device sold in France will now have to offer the activation, in a few clicks, of a free and pre-installed parental control system. The list of targeted sites will be specified by decree.
“We didn’t tick the right boxes”
Some families welcome this, like Marc and Solène, parents of two teenage girls. Setting up parental controls on the phones of their two daughters was not easy. “We fumbled. At first, we hadn’t ticked the right boxes, and our younger daughter no longer had access to certain literary works, such as The Ingenu of Voltaire! », Solene smiled. Yet they clung on.
→ READ. A bill to impose parental controls by default
Inspired by the college’s “digital charter”, they even signed a contract with each of their daughters: “We were committed to buying their phone and financing the plan, they were not to harass or insult online, but also to accept parental control and a time limit. » Today, they are satisfied that the law can help parents take this step: “Teaching children to behave at the table is one thing, but educating them about the Internet is probably much more useful today. »
“He will soon understand that it is for his own good”
Another approach with Fabien, father of Antoine, also a schoolboy. He did not install any software on his son’s smartphone and computer. It is not the technical obstacle that holds back this engineer, researcher at the CNRS, but fear “to be too strict”. “Yet Antoine goes to bed late. I also have the impression that it affects the quality of his sleep, and in the end he is tired in the morning to go to college, acknowledges Fabien. On top of that, I feel like he sometimes looks at things that aren’t his age. »
→ MAINTENANCE.Bruno Studer: “My law on parental control must provoke a debate”
In recent months, the issue has become a bone of contention between him and his ex-wife, who leans for more firmness. Also, this new law may be an opportunity to take the plunge: “We will probably end up installing it soon, even if Antoine is very unhappy that his use of screens is limited. He will understand one day that it is for his own good. »
“They never checked what I was doing on the internet”
More liberal, the parents of Gaël, 22, have always placed their trust in him, as well as in his two younger brothers. Not sure the new law would have changed anything. “They never checked what I was doing on the internet,” summarizes the student in Caen. Looking back, he feels he made pretty good use of that freedom. “It’s true that I watched a bit of anything in my early teens, which I find silly today. However, it did not traumatize me. » Because, in his educated and available family, he was able to ask the important questions in his eyes. And his friends “had a healthy outlook on life.”
It is precisely with young people deprived of such a context in mind that Bruno Studer developed his law: “The technical tool will never completely replace education in critical thinking and dialogue. But it is essential, especially to help the most disadvantaged parents on an educational level, as well as the most vulnerable children. »