Children Influencers: Are parents exploiting their children for fame and fortune?
This article comes to us from the Speaking Human University Program, which gives voice to the opinions and perspectives of the next generation of consumers and marketers…
Imagine someone posting you without your consent, eliminating all privacy, just to make money. This is how some children feel after being shown on the internet, by their parents, for as long as they can remember. This concept of over-sharing children on the internet by parents is known as sharenting. Many people wonder if children are the spotlight of online sponsorships, who gets paid, the parent or the child? The answer is unclear and quite unfortunate.
The Dangers of sharenting
Sharenting is defined as the practice of parents publicizing sensitive content about their children on internet platforms. There is a boundary between sharing innocent content of children, and content that goes too far and can put them at risk for identity theft, embarrassment, and even future discrimination. Some content that parents feel is innocent becomes dangerous when it is posted online with no privacy settings, such as public TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram accounts.
Brand deals with children
With the evolution of social media, people are sharing essentially everything in their lives—especially their children. Often times the child-based content goes viral and the parents decide to keep posting or even make an account for their child, sometimes before they can talk. Children cannot consent to being posted on social media. Social media platforms including TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube require users to be at least 13 years old to be on the site and have an account. However, younger children can have their own account if the bio states that the account is run by a parent or representative.
These children are growing up on the internet and it is all they have ever known. With a large following, many brands reach out to these accounts and offer a brand deal or sponsorship. A brand deal is a campaign that a brand and an influencer or blogger work together on. Usually, this entails the influencer showing a product being used or simply talking about the product. This can be done by the parent or the child. These brand deals are done in exchange for free products, money, or often both.
Who gets compensated?
The children are often the face of these brand deals and unfortunately, there are no federal laws stating that the money must go into a trust for the children. Typically, the parents view and spend that money as their own. Once a certain popularity is reached, brand deals can go for upwards of $50,000, and causing the social media channels to generate millions per year. As mentioned in a New York Times article, a father of two child influencers said, “My kids complete the package, man, if we didn’t have the girls, I can’t imagine being as far as we are.” His statement is proof that the family’s success is due to his daughters.
The California child actors bill, often known as the Coogan act, was set in place in 1939 to protect a portion of income made by minor actors or actresses. The laws set in place for underage actors and actresses do not apply to children influencers on social media. It is completely up to the parent if they want to set aside any money for the child for when they reach maturity.
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Maddox, J., & Conversation, T. (2023, January 18). When sponsored content meets ‘sharenting,’ kids are powerless to stop their influencer parents using them as props. Fortune. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://fortune.com/2023/01/18/influencers-children-social-media-laws-sponsored-content-sharenting/
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