When Play Becomes Work: Child Labor Laws in the Era of 'Kidfluencers'

27 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2020

See all articles by Marina Masterson

Marina Masterson

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Date Written: May 11, 2020


In the past few years, “kidfluencers,” or children with large social media followings, have been integral to the rise of an $8-billion social media advertising industry. The most successful kidfluencers make up to $26 million in a year by posting sponsored content and monetizing ad space on their social media pages. Because kidfluencers have no legal right to these earnings or safe working conditions, the risk of exploitation is extreme and immediate. Still, the issue is nuanced because parents significantly control the production of their children’s content, and states are limited in how much they may regulate a parent’s decisions in raising their child.

This Comment addresses how kidfluencers fit in the child labor regime, specifically by comparing child actor law. Child actors are not covered by federal child labor laws, resulting in a patchwork of state regulations. This Comment proposes state legislation that would financially protect kidfluencers. However, it concedes that certain common child actor regulations, like those involving work permits and workplace conditions, are difficult, if not impossible, to impose on kidfluencers. Ultimately, current child actor laws should not simply be expanded to include social media influencers, but instead, tailored legislation is needed.

Keywords: social media, child labor, influencer, Coogan, kidfluencer

Suggested Citation

Masterson, Marina, When Play Becomes Work: Child Labor Laws in the Era of 'Kidfluencers' (May 11, 2020). University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3650376

Marina Masterson (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

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