Child influencers are growing in popularity, and labor laws could soon follow to make sure they aren't being abused.
Child influencers are common online. From Mini AOC to Ryan Kaji of Ryan’s World, and Roman of Roman’s Cooking Corner, for years children have become famous for their online content. While it may start with fun videos, children who gain an audience may receive unwanted attention, and even become overworked and exploited by sponsors and their own parents.
Like child television and movie stars, child influencers are vulnerable because they are not old enough to enter contracts or fully understand the implications of their persona. Becoming a paid influencer at a young age may allow for financial stability, or it may lead to mismanagement by the guardians of the children involved. These concerns are exactly why child labor laws were created.
Social media and the internet have advanced throughout the technological age to such a point that child influencers become famous quickly. Instead of being held to laws that restrict on-set time for television and movies, TikTok and YouTube stars often produce homemade content and so they are not held to the same standards. Many officials and individuals are calling for global updates to child labor laws regarding young influencers in order to protect them from being exploited and abused for their content.
Child actors and singers have suffered parental abuse and even sexual exploitation despite labor laws. While the introduction of updated policies regarding child influencers and online content may curb abuses, it is unknown just how helpful they will be to the children involved. There is no consistent data studying child influencers, their well-being, and how their role affects them on a long-term scale, but many concerns have been raised.
The safety and well-being of child influencers and a need for updated child labor laws is being questioned just as the former Nickelodeon star Jennette McCurdy has released a memoir detailing how she was exploited by her mother, a failed actress who pushed her dreams off onto her child. In her book, “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” McCurdy details how she was given alcohol by a “creator,” filmed in a bikini, and how her mother forced her into a career that did not fulfill her. Despite her misgivings about various situations, McCurdy suffered leading to long-term mental issues that she has had to overcome.
This is not uncommon. Throughout Hollywood tales of abuse and exploitation are often found. Similarly, child influencers can pull in large sums of money and even the most mindful of parents are not always equipped to handle the responsibility of managing their child and that amount of fast-made wealth. Even if parents are caring and allow the child to work at their own pace, child predators gain easy access to these young influencers, and children like Mini AOC have been harassed and threatened.
As the public continues to call for more child labor protections regarding child influencers, masses of young kids are growing their audience online every day. In order to ensure their safety and well-being updates to federal policies may be needed, and a call for global standards is gaining support. If and how these protections are introduced depends on whether lawmakers feel it necessary to intervene.