According to MPs, the UK government must do more to protect child influencers and their followers from exploitation.
'Kidfluencers' at risk
A report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee was particularly concerned with child influencers, aka 'kidfluencers,' who earn an income by partnering with brands to create, share, and promote sponsored content on social media.
This content is largely targeted at other children and as the minimum age for an Instagram account or YouTube channel is 13, a lot of their accounts are managed by parents. Children are also often featured in content created by parents or family influencers.
Julian Knight, DCMS Committee chair, said:
Child viewers, who are still developing digital literacy, are in particular danger in an environment where not everything is always as it seems, while there is a woeful lack of protection for young influencers who often spend long hours producing financially lucrative content at the direction of others.
According to one estimate, there are at least 10,000 parent influencers in the UK. In 2021, up to half of all children said they watched vlogger or YouTube influencer content, according to Ofcom data.
UK must 'urgently address' child labour regulations
The report said:
We are deeply concerned that a lack of action in the booming influencer market will lead to even more children in the industry being exploited.
It found that 'posting content about children can affect their privacy and bring security risks.'
The committee encouraged the Government to 'urgently address the gap in UK child labour and performance regulation that is leaving child influencers without protection.'
New legislation should include provisions on working hours and conditions, mandate the protection of the child’s earnings, ensure a right to erasure, and bring the child’s labour arrangements under the oversight of local authorities.
The report comes as it was revealed recently that Toddlers and Tiaras star Kailia Poseydied bysuicide on May 2 at the age of 16.