Influencer Marketing and Child Labour – How to Comply With Legislation and Ethics?

Influencer Marketing and Child Labour – How to Comply With Legislation and Ethics?

Influencer Marketing and Child Labour – How to Comply With Legislation and Ethics?

In the US and the UK there have been increasing calls for legislation to protect child social media influencers from exploitation.

Influence4You sheds light on existing legislation around the world and also gives you a few things to think about regarding the ethics of child labour.

The work of child influencers

Child labour is strictly regulated in the US and the UK, and a child cannot work before the age of 14–16 in most industries.

All the information can be found on the official government pages:

In the UK, there is an exception for children working part-time, which they can do from age 13, except in areas like:

  • television
  • theatre
  • modelling

In this case, they will need a performance licence.

In the US, the FLSA sets the minimum working age at 14 for non-agricultural jobs.

Child influencers are still not covered by the law governing children in the above situations, such as those in entertainment.

Indeed, in the US, the entertainment industry is exempted from the federal regime, thus leaving it up to individual states to regulate child entertainers.

Some states, however, have robust legal schemes that protect child actors, commonly referred to as Coogan Laws.

In the UK, there are still gaps in child labour and performance regulations that leave “kidfluencers” at risk. In May 2022, the Commons DCMS Committee released a damning report, urging the government to introduce legislation, investigate pay standards and do more to ensure influencers disclose paid partnerships.

French Child Labour Laws

Before 2020 in France, the work of child influencers under the age of 16 on social media was not regulated.

Today it is however, a new bill having been adopted unanimously by the National Assembly and taking effect on April 20, 2021.

Child labour is strictly regulated in France, and a child cannot work before the age of 14–16 in many industries. This information can be found on the official government page. Until now, before the age of 14, a child or teenager could work only:

  • In an entertainment, film, radio, television, or sound recording company
  • As a model
  • In a company or association whose purpose is to participate in video game competitions.

Child influencers are now regulated by the law governing children in the above situations, such as those in entertainment. The law has thus been expanded, and children who used to work for “modelling agencies” now mainly work for “people”.

Article L7124-1 provides that the law’s standards of protection will apply to minors in “audiovisual recording companies, regardless of their means of communication to the public”. As such, without talking specifically about influencers and social networks, the law includes a sufficiently broad field of action to anticipate several cases.

What does the law say about child influencers?

There are still very few articles on the subject and it is difficult to navigate the rules imposed to protect child influencers. In legal limbo before 2020, the work of child influencers is now strictly regulated and is the subject of a specific law. This is the law n°2020-1966 of October 19, 2020 available in full here.

Here are the main directives:

Minors under 16 have rights:

  • In order to ensure the protection of minors, any work on social networks must be approved in advance by the competent authorities. In most cases and depending on the region, this is the labour directorate. Contact information can be found on the government page, here.
  • Their income must be deposited at the Caisse des Dépôts et des Consignations until they reach the age of majority and cannot be collected by a third party. Only a portion can be collected by the legal guardians.
  • They have a “right to erasure” and can request the removal of their content from the social network of their choice. For example, a child influencer who has come of age and wishes to delete videos or posts made about him or her on YouTube can ask the platform directly to remove them. All platforms must be able to exercise this right to be forgotten or “erased”.

Obligations of platforms

In addition to the mandatory “right to erasure“, platforms will be required to remove any sponsored content featuring a child under 16 without approval. They must cooperate with the authorities if necessary in the event of an inspection. They can be fined up to 75,000 euros in case of infringement.

When does the law apply?

It is the responsibility of the child’s legal guardians to comply with the law. But also to ask the right questions.

Let’s take an example:

Should filming your child painting a picture that you find particularly beautiful on social networks be subject to authorisation?

  • The answer is no if it is in a family setting as part of daily life, even if the profile is public and accessible to all. This is about whether or not parents want to expose their child on the web.
  • The answer is yes if the product involves a partnership. For example, if the child is painting with brushes donated by a brand, which has paid for a paid post.

Education and ethics are paramount

Some parents may then say: Why should I ask for permission? Why should I pay the money to the Caisse des Dépôts for my child, when they had great fun with the new brushes? With this money, we can do things for the family, go on holiday, or improve our everyday lives. At least that is what many people think, and that is where education and ethics come into play.

Even if a child was painting and playing with a product offered in return for payment and it was probably the parents who filmed it, negotiated with the brand, etc. It is the child who lends their image to the product. It is the child who embodies the product for the duration of a post, in the form of a child model or any child in the media. And when the post remains visible for months or even years, it is the child who is seen. This is what is paid for.

Here’s something to think about:

A child artist. A child plays the piano in a packed hall where the public has bought tickets in advance for a few dozen euros to see this young talent play. The show makes a profit. Would we say that the child should not to get this money as piano is their passion anyway and they had a good time? No, because the audience came for the child. And it was the child who was put on stage and did the work. Even though it was probably the parents who enrolled them in piano lessons when they were younger, which led them to the show … etc.

Admittedly, the law provides that part of the remuneration may be paid to the legal guardians for expenses incurred, etc., but the child deserves and has the right to his or her remuneration, held in an account, which he or she may receive when he or she reaches the age of majority or is emancipated. Because THEY did the work.

What about family content? 

If you have a family channel and your child appears (even as a family) in a paid post, the child must be able to receive his or her share of the payment. Because the child will have linked their image with the product.

What about ethics?

The legal guardians of the child worker are responsible for the child’s welfare. More than simply the fact of making your child work, one subject comes up very often: the psychological impact of online platforms on children can be devastating.

Imagine your child featured in a post or video that gets many views. The post is full of hateful comments. On the Internet, it is easy for any user to vent his or her anger behind the computer screen and post insulting, degrading or simply mean comments. Adult influencers are often victims of this, and speak out against it. They hold the cards and usually have the maturity to protect themselves, but not always.

The question arises, therefore, what is the limit for a child? How do you protect a child from the difficult reality of the Internet?

Some experts advise disabling comments when a post is controversial, or immediately upon publication. The post may then generate likes and views but no comments. Of course, the engagement rate may suffer, some may say, but isn’t protecting a minor more important? Especially if they are still very young?

What are the steps to follow to create content with your child?

The law is very clear: “The dissemination of the image of a child under the age of sixteen on a video-sharing platform service, where the child is the main subject, is subject to a declaration to the competent authority by the legal guardians”.

Clearly, any paid content posted on a social networking platform must be subject to a prior administrative request. This approval is not permanent and can be revoked in case of non-compliance.

You’ll have got the message by now. If you want to create paid content with your child, you need to request for approval. Then deposit the income with the Caisse des dépôts et des consignations.

Regular checks are carried out. Paid content showing minors without approval may be subject to penalties by the competent authorities but also by the platforms themselves.

The role of influencer marketing agencies

Organising campaigns so that they run smoothly and with respect for the child is a skill of influencer marketing agencies. Children will then be able to receive the financial benefits of their image and work when they come of age or following emancipation.

The majority of parents want to do the right thing, they just lack information. If you want your child to work as an influencer, you can get in touch with Influence4You. Relationships with brands are regulated and campaigns supervised.

Influence4You is a member of ARPP (the French Professional Advertising Regulation Authority) and participates in the development of responsible and ethical influencer marketing.

Visit the ARPP website




Ecrit par Jordan Plummeridge

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