Angela Reddock-Wright Discusses New Child Labor Laws for Child Influencers on CGTN America

Angela Reddock-Wright on the news discussing an amendment to child labor laws that expands protections for child influencers.In The Jungle, a seminal work of American literature, author Upton Sinclair depicted the unregulated working conditions for children in the Chicago stockyards in the early 1900s, before child labor laws were in place to protect them. Upon release, it catalyzed a movement to create this legislature and reform child employment regulations, among others. Since then, we have come a long way in protecting children, and we continue to expand these protections. 

On January 1st, a new law went into effect in Illinois that will expand on that protection and set a groundbreaking precedent in the predominantly unregulated industry of influencer children in online videos that have emerged in recent years. Still, this topic can be complicated. Recently, I had the pleasure of being on CGTN America to discuss this complex issue, and I am here to guide you through this recent Illinois law and its implications.  

A New Illinois Law Transforms Child Labor Laws for Influencers

On January 1st, a law ratified by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker went into effect, poised to transform the landscape for child labor laws as they relate to child influencers.

In doing so, Illinois has taken the lead in reforming these laws regarding their appearance and involvement in TikTok videos, YouTube videos, Instagram videos, and other such social media platforms popular with influencers.

This new law functions as an extension of the child labor laws that first started appearing in 1938 after Jackie Coogan, a child actor who had starred in Charlie Chaplin’s “The Kid” as a toddler, realized when he became an adult, his parents had spent all the money he had spent their childhood earning on behalf of their family. 

In recent years, as videos and social media posts by children and their families have started going viral, the families have started earning income as a result of being sponsored and becoming celebrities because of their appearances. 

This law is designed to protect those children and ensure that, by the time they are 18, the  money they earned as child performers will be available to them. 

Still, some common elements of these videos added wrinkles and complications in legislating this complex issue. In these videos, the child influencer’s family, friends, as well as other people often make appearances. 

But as with any new law, the devil’s in the details. Moreover, the Illinois state legislature has even acknowledged that these new child labor laws will continue to evolve. 

How this New Illinois Legislature Changes Child Labor Laws

For now, the law states that children, if 16 years old and under, are in a video for at least 30% of the video’s run time, they are entitled to at least 30% of whatever the family, parents, caregiver, or guardian receives for the sponsorship or advertisement of that video. 

Furthermore, these children must be compensated within a 30-day period using a trust account and receive these earnings upon turning 18 years old. Now, an important distinction to make is that this is strictly for videos for which the parents, guardian or caretakers of the children  receive payment. 

This law does not apply to the average video that a parent posts. But if the parents and family receive advertising revenue or sponsorship dollars from the video, the new law applies. There are two considerations here:

  • Privacy for the children: Are the children of the age where they can voluntarily consent to participate in these videos? Can a 4-year-old child give the same consent as a 10-year-old child? Most likely not. If children grow up and decide they didn’t actually consent to participate in the video, that can cause problems. But that’s a topic for future discussion. 
  • Money preservation: The issue, ultimately, boils down to ensuring that there is money preserved for them in a trust account, also referred to as a Coogan Account.

Now, you might be thinking that child actors are not a new phenomenon. For decades upon decades, we have had child stars appear in films and on TV. So why don’t we use the same protections we have used with these children to protect their rights and earnings?

While this is true, current child labor laws have yet to evolve with the Internet and the advent of this type of media. Part of the complication here is the nature of these productions. Hollywood has an infrastructure in place to protect children. 

For example, on a Hollywood set, there might be a person overseeing the protection of that child and ensuring they aren’t being taken advantage of, tutors, and other individuals there to help the child. But these new videos are often DIY, grassroots productions. 

The videos these child influencers are appearing in are being filmed in their homes and everyday lives without that infrastructure in place. To further complicate things, on popular social media channels, children under 13 cannot run and manage their accounts.

In regards to consent and the age discrepancies among these child influencers, more work will also need to be done to ensure that the youngest and most vulnerable children, like those with disabilities, are protected. 

Listen to Me Speak on the Complex Issue of Evolving Child Labor Laws on CGTN America

Thank you for reading my article, and I hope that I was able to shed some light on this complicated issue. If you would like to hear the full discussion I had on CGTN America regarding child labor laws for child influencers, you can watch that video here:

Mediation & Conflict Resolution

Whether you are an employee, employer, and/or legal counsel representing employees or employers, if you need help mediating or resolving conflicts relating to the entertainment and social media influencer business, as well as the evolving new child labor laws, working with a trusted mediator and objective third party like myself can benefit everyone involved. Mediation and alternative dispute resolution are almost always the best choices to avoid the draining, expensive, and time-consuming process of litigation and receive the best guarantee of closure, especially when complex family dynamics are at play.

Angela Reddock-Wright: Employment Law Thought Leader & Experienced Employment & Title IX Mediator & ADR Professional

I am a former employment and labor law attorney turned mediator, ADR, and conflict resolution specialist who believes it is crucial to stay current with groundbreaking changes to employment law for employees and employers alike. My passion is educating the general public on recent developments in employment law and the workplace trends that impact them. My more than 20 years of experience as a media legal analyst and contributor have led to my own radio show on Tavis Smiley’s KBLA Talk 1580, “Legal Lens with Angela Reddock.” I also am a regular speaker and blogger on employment law and issues related to the workplace.




Also, learn more about my book – The Workplace Transformed: 7 Crucial Lessons from the Global Pandemic – here –

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This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.

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