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Published 28.05.24

"Babyphotos klick well"

Torsten Krause, SDC

Under the heading ‘Online advertising - between opportunities, law and responsibility’, the 24th edition of the watchdog format of the state media authorities in mid-May also dealt with family influencing and the question of how digital content with children should be realised or better refrained from. The Director of the Bremen State Media Authority, Cornelia Holsten, pointed out that today's generation of parents had already grown up with devices and social media and therefore had a high affinity for the digital environment and the sharing of (personal) information. As a result, an average of around 1,500 images of each child up to the age of five can be found online, as parents show their joy and pride to the community. However, the problem is that these images are usually distributed without the children's consent and the large amount of information can also pose risks. For example, Sara Flieder vividly reported that she knew the name and birthday of a girl in her neighbourhood, as well as which ice cream shop she preferred in the district and much more, although she did not know the child or her parents offline. This experience led her to campaign for the protection of children's rights in the digital environment by means of a petition.

With the petition ‘Protecting children's rights on Instagram’ which has already been signed by over 54,000 people and handed over to Ekin Deligöz, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Sara Flieder is calling for a legal regulation for commercially active influencers. They should be prohibited from depicting children unclothed or in compromising situations, publishing sensitive information such as names and places of residence, or using children for advertising purposes. Cornelia Holsten is very much in favour of this view. She can rely on the position of the Media Council of the Bremen State Media Authority. It has been calling for a voluntary commitment in the area of influencing since 2021. According to this, no images of the faces of children under the age of three should be used in influencer marketing, the names of children should not be disclosed and no images of children's bedrooms should be published.

Both Holsten and Flieder were not yet satisfied with what had been achieved. They criticised the fact that children's rights were ‘not high up on the political agenda’ and that ‘baby photos click well’. Nevertheless, discussions on how children's rights can be safeguarded in the context of family influencing are taking place at European level without much media attention. Belgium recently organised a conference in Brussels as part of its Council Presidency. We reported on this in our article Children's Rights, Sharenting & Kidfluencing. The conversation between Cornelia Holsten, Sara Flieder and watchdog presenter Geraldine de Bastion can be viewed here (from 01:01:30, discussion in German).