Navigating the Controversy Around Influencers & Child Content Creators

Feb 15, 2024

By: Baylie Busby

We don’t need to tell you what a prominent force influencers have become in shaping trends and consumer behavior. However, a recent wave of controversy has emerged, centering around influencers who involve their children in content creation without adequate compensation. This has stemmed from an uproar surrounding popular ‘family vlogger’ channels over the past six years. As discussions about potential laws swirl in various states, it’s time to dig deeper into what’s really going on.

A Closer Look at the Controversy

Over the past few years, influencers have been doing more than just showing glimpses of their lives online – they’ve been putting their kids firmly into the spotlight. Whether it’s monthly vlogs documenting every milestone since birth, or TikToks of family vacations, the line between documenting a family moment and blatant exploitation is murky. As this trend continues, people are starting to speak up. 

The public’s worry is on the rise regarding how this constant exposure might impact the well-being and privacy of these minors. When cameras are constantly pointed at them, it raises questions about true consent: Are they genuinely agreeing to this, or is it a case of influencers exploiting their own children? Across platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, viewers are beginning to push back against these family channels, shining a light on the legal and ethical issues at play.

Emerging Regulations on the Legal Landscape

Across the nation, lawmakers are increasingly recognizing the need to address the unique challenges faced by influencers. Discussions are underway in various states regarding regulations aimed at safeguarding the rights and welfare of children. Proposed laws are tackling issues such as compensation, privacy, and overall well-being, signaling a shift in how we approach content creation involving minors.

Illinois has taken a groundbreaking step by becoming the first state in the U.S. to ensure that child social media influencers are fairly compensated for their work. Senator David Koehler spearheaded a bill that was recently signed into law and is set to take effect on July 1, 2024. Koehler’s bill requires creators to compensate the child $0.10 per every view. For example, if the video content has 10,000 views, the minor must receive $1,000 in compensation for their participation. This legislation sets a precedent for the protection of young content creators and underscores the importance of recognizing their contributions.

Balancing Creativity and Well-being

As these legal discussions continue to unfold, influencers find themselves navigating a slippery slope. Meeting the requirements of these new regulations poses significant challenges, particularly as they apply only when a child is featured on screen for more than 30% of a 30-day period. Many creators are left with the question of whether the law pertains to their content.

However, beyond just adhering to the law, there’s a deeper ethical dimension to consider. Influencers are at a crossroads, balancing their creative ideas for content with the responsibility of safeguarding their children’s privacy. Questions about the appropriateness of certain content and the necessity of acquiring the child’s consent have become central to the ongoing debate. It’s not just about following the rules; it’s about finding a balance that respects both creativity and the well being of the children involved.

Navigating New Responsibility

As the controversy continues to unfold, social media platforms and brands are under increasing pressure to reassess and adjust their policies. Many platforms recognize the issues that come from involving children in content creation, and there is a growing emphasis on promoting responsible actions that prioritize the child. These actions include:

  • Revising guidelines on child participation in sponsored content
  • Ensuring that consent is obtained from the minors
  • Providing resources to support responsible content creation
  • Conducting due diligence to ensure compliance with legal and ethical standards
  • Advocating for transparency in influencer-brand partnerships

By striking a balance between creativity and upholding responsibility, brands and agencies can maintain the trust of their audiences and contribute to the sustainable growth of influencer marketing.

Encouraging Constructive Dialogue

Backed by the power of social media, influencers aren’t just trendsetters but also a bellwether of societal norms. How they handle this controversy may signal a sea change, as they set the tone for the future of content creation.

In navigating this complex landscape, it’s crucial to encourage an open dialogue within the industry and among followers. As influencers, brands, and viewers work together to find the right balance, conversations can lead to informed decisions that prioritize the well-being of everyone involved, but most importantly the children.