'It's not play if you're making money': how Instagram and YouTube disrupted child labor laws


‘Kidfluencers’ are earning millions on social media, but there are some legitimate legal questions to answer. Is what they do considered "work"? And who owns the money they earn?

While today’s child stars can achieve incredible fame and fortune without ever setting foot in a Hollywood studio, they may be missing out on one of the less glitzy features of working in the southern California-based entertainment industry: the strongest child labor laws for performers in the country. Those laws, which were designed to protect child stars from exploitation by both their parents and their employers, are not being regularly applied to today’s pint-sized celebrities, despite the fact that the major platforms, YouTube and Instagram, are based in California. The situation is a bit like “Uber but for … child labor”, with a disruptive technology upending markets by, among other things, side-stepping regulation.


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