New Legislation Grants Child Social Media Influencers the Right to a Share of Their Earnings

**Illinois Becomes First State to Compensate Child Social Media Influencers**

Illinois has passed a groundbreaking law that ensures child social media influencers are compensated for their work. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. David Koehler and will go into effect on July 1, 2024. This move makes Illinois the first state in the U.S. to provide legal protection for child influencers and safeguard their earnings.

**Recognizing the Profit Potential of Child Social Media Influencers**

With the rise of social media, children now have the opportunity to earn a profit through their online presence. However, many parents have been taking advantage of this situation by keeping the earnings for themselves while making their children continue to work in these digital environments, according to Sen. David Koehler.

The bill was inspired by a 15-year-old in Sen. Koehler’s district who brought attention to the issue. This legislation aims to ensure that children under the age of 16 who are featured in monetized online platforms, such as video blogs or vlogs, are fairly compensated for their work.

**Protecting Children from Harm in the “Sharenthood” Industry**

Family vlogs often share intimate details of their children’s lives, including grades, potty training, illnesses, misbehaviors, and even first periods. These vlogs can attract brand deals worth tens of thousands of dollars per video. However, the lack of regulations in the “sharenthood” industry can potentially cause serious harm to children.

Bobbi Althoff, a TikToker with over 5 million followers, used to feature her young daughter in paid advertising. However, she has since decided not to do so for privacy reasons. Videos featuring children tend to perform well on social media platforms, which makes them valuable assets for brands.

**Illinois Takes the Lead in Protecting Child Influencers**

While many states require parents to set aside earnings for child entertainers who perform in traditional settings like movies and television, Illinois is the first state to specifically address child social media influencers. Landon Jacquinot, who monitors child labor legislation for the National Conference of State Legislatures, believes that other states with a significant presence of family vloggers and social media influencers might consider adopting similar laws in the future.

Under the Illinois law, child influencers will be entitled to a percentage of earnings based on their appearances in video blogs or online content that generates at least 10 cents per view. To qualify, the content must be created in Illinois, and children must be featured in at least 30% of the content within a 30-day period. Vloggers will be responsible for keeping records of the children’s appearances and putting aside the gross earnings in a trust account until the child reaches 18.

**Acknowledging the Need to Protect Children’s Talents**

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s spokesperson, Alex Gough, emphasized that children deserve protection from parents who would exploit their talents for personal financial gain. The passing of this legislation is a significant step towards safeguarding the rights and earnings of child social media influencers.

**The Advocacy of Teenagers in Shaping the Law**

The law was set in motion by 16-year-old Shreya Nallamothu, who brought her concerns to Sen. Koehler. She identified the potential for exploitation within the realm of child influencing three years ago while scrolling through social media during quarantine. She clarified that the law is not intended for parents who share photos of their children on social media for family and friends, but rather for families who rely on child vlogging and family vlogging as a source of income.

**Efforts to Regulate Child Influencer Industry in Other States**

Democratic-led states like California and Washington have made some attempts to regulate the child influencer industry but with limited success. For example, a 2018 California child labor bill included a provision related to social media, but it was removed by the time the bill was passed. In Washington, a bill spearheaded by Chris McCarty, another teenager and the founder of Quit Clicking Kids, an advocacy organization, stalled out in committee.

McCarty expressed hope that the momentum generated by the passing of the Illinois law will continue in other states and eventually become a nationwide effort.

**Different Approaches in Republican-Led States**

In contrast to Illinois, several Republican-led states have chosen to loosen child labor laws to address workforce shortages. For instance, Iowa recently passed a law that allows teenagers to work more jobs and for longer hours. Arkansas has also eliminated permits that required employers to verify a child’s age and a parent’s consent.

In conclusion, Illinois has taken a significant step in protecting child social media influencers by enacting a law that ensures their fair compensation. This legislation sets a precedent for other states to adopt similar regulations, leading to the safeguarding of children’s rights and talents in the digital era.

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