Education. Gabriel Attal wants to “work with platforms” to regulate screens among young people

Blocking access to social networks for under 13s: that's Prime Minister Gabriel Attal's goal. To do this, he announced in Le Parisien on Sunday that he wanted to “work with platforms”. The idea would also be to make access for 13-15-year-olds conditional on parental consent, instead of “making binding decisions” at the state level.

“It is a very difficult project, but not impossible,” he wants to believe. “I think there is a way to achieve this in cooperation with platforms. Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and others are aware of their reputation. They will play the game.”

Existing tools…

Some apps, such as the French social network Yubo, use the British company Yoti, which has developed a photo-based age estimation system based on artificial intelligence. But the application of these tools is still rare because, apart from the technical aspects, they must comply with legal requirements.

The National Commission for Information Technology and Freedoms (Cnil) thus reports that age control leads to “the collection of personal data and presents risks to privacy”. In accordance with the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), tools such as facial recognition are used in a very limited way.

There are already several tools on the devices themselves. Parents can limit the time spent on the social networks Instagram or TikTok, set an online limit on the iPhone or Nintendo consoles, or install a parental control app developed by Google, allowing them to limit the total time online or per app.

For its part, Meta introduced a “Late Notifications” feature that appears “automatically” on underage users' Instagram accounts when used between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m., to encourage them to close the app.

… but it can be avoided

But these tools have their limitations as they only apply to connected media. Nothing prevents a child from playing on an offline device. Furthermore, parents can circumvent the ban by allowing their children to play using an adult's ID number.

Limiting the time children spend in front of screens is a government priority. At the initiative of President Emmanuel Macron, experts are working on this topic and their recommendations, which are expected in April, “could, for example, be grouped together in a guide for good use”, points out Gabriel Attal.

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