Influencer parents are exploiting their children for fame and money: It's time to enforce The Coogan Act

Over 80 years ago, the State of California passed The Coogan Act to protect child actors from exploitation; child star Jackie Coogan had earned almost a million dollars but when he turned 18 he discovered his mother and stepfather had blown through most of it. The Coogan Act required that 15% of income be put aside in a trust that greedy adults could not get at. The system worked very well for decades. 

But here we are again.

This article, from Cosmopolitan of all places, takes a look at what is essentially the unregulated Wild West of child labor law: kids on social media:

Being the child of an influencer, Vanessa tells me, was the equivalent of having a full-time job—and then some. She remembers late nights in which the family recorded and rerecorded videos until her mother considered them perfect and days when creating content for the blog stretched into her homeschooling time. If she expressed her unease, she was told the family needed her.

The issues are certainly more complicated than yesteryear — these kids don't report to a job site, like on a movie or TV show; they don't punch a timecard; they don't file a tax return. But they are often part of an organization that makes money off content: their family. The parents are exploiting the kids and are not required to pass along any of the income. Seems wrong on its face, but then again, for generations parents have forced kids to work on farms without paying them. It's just what they had to do to keep the farm running, to survive. 

This is a tricky issue, but it feels like it needs to be addressed ASAP: what do influencer parents owe the kids? Don't these kids deserve some legal protections from the state?

See more stories about influencers on Boing Boing.