Sen. Koehler

SPRINGFIELD – A decade ago, young superstardom was rare, left for the television stars and professional singers. However, with the rise of social media influencing, all you need to reach fame now is a cell phone. 

While traditional child actors are protected by the Child Labor Law, there’s nothing on the books for young influencers. Under a measure led by State Senators Dave Koehler and Linda Holmes, that would change.  

“Too often these days, you hear of children being exploited by parents or guardians due to the success they make online,” said Koehler (D-Peoria). “A digital footprint a young person did not agree to create should not follow them for the rest of their lives.”

Under Senate Bill 1782, minors under the age of 16 featured in vlogs or other online content would be covered under the Child Labor Law. The measure calls for the child – also known as a “kidfluencer”— to be accurately compensated and would allow them to request deletion of the content upon turning 18.

The idea for the legislation came from Shreya Nallamothu, a 15-year-old University High School student. Shreya brought her proposal to Koehler and Holmes with concerns that money made by child influencers is not protected and that too many young people will fall victim to a parent or guardian taking the assets for their own use.

“When scrolling on social media, I always saw young children and families, called family vlog channels, posting videos online. After finding that users could make money off of platforms such as YouTube and TikTok, I learned that, often, these kids are made to participate in videos without any guarantee of the income generated from the content,” said Shreya. “I wanted to work with Senator Koehler to protect the money that these kids have rightfully earned.”

According to CBS News, kidfluencers with one million followers can earn $10,000 or more per sponsored post. Young children are often featured in social media content without any guarantee of the income they have earned. Because of the age restrictions on online platforms, the content is not created in the child's name, but rather the parent or guardian who runs the account. While traditional child actors in Illinois have the Child Labor Law to safeguard their earnings, there is nothing in place for kidfluencers.

“As legislators, it is our job to be the voice for the voiceless – including the future generation of children,” said Holmes (D-Aurora). “In this digital age, parents should not be able to profit off the work or rise to fame because of their children. It’s no different than child television stars having protections.”

Senate Bill 1782 passed the Senate Labor Committee Wednesday and now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.