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Lights, camera, and the UK government is finally taking action to protect children amidst the rise of the kidfluencer.
Young, premature fame has never gone down well. Look at Britney Spears, for example, bless her heart.
In these modern times, a child’s fame is less TV and stage orientated and more social media focused, but still, just as much a threat to their development and mental health.
Members of the UK parliament are warning against the popularity of child influencers, who are being “exploited” by parents to make money.
The MPs have acknowledged that this phenomenon will have “lifelong consequences” and are thus calling for tighter labour laws in a new landmark report.
The Telegraph reported that an investigation was carried out by the digital, culture, media, and sports select committee, which found examples of child internet stars dealing with kidnap threats, harassment, and major mental health repercussions.
MP Julian Knight has urged everyone to look beyond the “shiny surface of what you see on screen” at the “altogether murkier world where both the influencers and their followers are at risk of exploitation and harm online”:
He added: “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.”
He said that the “explosion in influencer activity has left the authorities playing catch-up and exposed the impotence of advertising rules and employment protections designed for a time before social media was the all-encompassing behemoth it has become today”.
The report went on about concerns that “some children in the influencer economy are being used by parents and family members seeking to capitalise on the lucrative child and family influencing market”.
The report acknowledged that fame at a young age can have seriously damaging effects on a child’s development:
“The precise effect of social media fame, which can be constant and far more personal, has not yet been explored. However, there is evidence that social media fame can have serious mental consequences.”
The committee also found an even darker side to influencer culture, saying: “Posting content about children online can affect their privacy, which brings security risks. For example, checking in to venues on social media posts or posting images of the children’s home could expose their location.”
There is clearly a need to protect and regulate child influencers.
The report will hopefully close the gaps in advertising and labour laws so that all the complex aspects of the influencer industry are considered.
Likewise, the Online Safety Bill will force social media platforms to be more accountable for protecting young people and creating a safe online space for them to work and play.
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