Troubles and ethics behind the 'cute' trend of growing Kidfluencers

Troubles and ethics behind the 'cute' trend of growing Kidfluencers
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Jakarta, Oct 4 (The Conversation) The rapid development of the digital era has given rise to various new phenomena, including kidfluencers. This terminology refers to children - usually under the age of 16 - who become influencers on social media. They appear in interesting content such as photos, videos, or stories about their daily lives - from playing, eating, dressing, to activities that are appropriate for their age.

Like adult influencers , these children are also involved in promoting various brands and company products through their uploads or uploads to accounts in their names which are managed by their parents/guardians.

In return, kidfluencers can get paid, get endorsements or free stuff , get involved in advertising campaigns, and even earn money from sales of the products they promote.

Social media opens up opportunities to make home videos into a very profitable business field. Watching the funny behaviour and cute faces of children milling about on social media also makes users happy.

However, the presence of kidfluencers should raise serious questions about the role of parents in protecting children's rights from the impact of their activities in this new commercial space.


The blurring of the line between kidfluencers and child exploitation

Nowadays, influencers have entered a professional category and are coveted by many young people . In 2021, the global influencer market is estimated to be worth USD 13.8 billion (around IDR 206 trillion).

However, what are the ethics of making children influencers ?

A study in the United States (US) wrote that with social media monetization and income from sponsorships, kidfluencers are counted as children who work in the entertainment sector.

Based on Law no. 13 of 2003 concerning Employment , the minimum age limit for workers in Indonesia is 18 years. Those who employ children under this age may be subject to sanctions.

As reported by , there are several exceptions that allow minors to make money. This includes light work for children aged 13-15 years, work to support the curriculum, or work that supports children's interests and talents.

However, this exception also has its own rules. The work above, for example, must not interfere with the child's education and physical and mental growth and development, can only be done for a maximum of three hours a day, and is strictly in accordance with the child's abilities. Most importantly, the law requires that all these activities be strictly supervised by parents.

The problem arises when there is wide open space for acts of child exploitation and many of us are so busy enjoying it that without realising it we become part of the problem behind this kidfluencer phenomenon.

Meanwhile, Hukumonline is of the opinion that because the basis for the work that children receive comes from contractual agreements or cooperation contracts, they are not subject to employment regulations. This is because according to the Civil Code, those under 21 years of age or who are not married are considered not yet adults and capable of entering into an agreement, this right is entirely in the hands of the parents.

However, Hukumonline made a note referring to the Human Rights Law and the Child Protection Law which underlines the importance of children having free time to play with peers and develop themselves as well as being protected from economic exploitation.

In the end, parents are the key figures in whether the childfluencer's workload and 'work' environment is truly safe and free from exploitation. Parents have the right to make autonomous decisions in educating their children, so the production of social media content involving children is considered normal.

However, what happens in someone's household can escape the eyes of the law. Various cases of exploitation of kidfluencers have been discovered lately, including cases of child abuse committed by parenting vlogger from the US, Ruby Franke, which have become very popular recently.

The impact of child monetization on social media

The blurring of protection and law enforcement as well as the exposure of these children to the public certainly has its own impact.

First, there is the issue of privacy.

Kids who become kidfluencers often share most aspects of their personal lives on social media, from their routines to stories about their families. This poses a serious risk to children's privacy and opens up opportunities for potential misuse of personal information.

Second, the problem of consumerism.

Kidfluencers are often active in promoting products and brands to their young audience. The impact is that children can be influenced by this promotion, possibly pushing them towards unhealthy consumption from an early age.

Additionally, their limited understanding of the difference between promotional content and honest content can create a lack of clarity in terms of morals and ethics.

Third, related to children's education.

Children who become kidfluencers may miss out on important learning experiences at school or in their daily lives. They may feel pressured by the demands of constantly creating engaging content, thereby sacrificing time for formal education and healthy social interactions.

Fourth, child growth and development.

Intense exposure to social media can affect children's mental health. They may feel pressured to maintain a perfect image on social media, and this can interfere with their identity development.

The role of parents

For parents who want their children to become influencers , it is important to carefully consider the following suggestions.

Firstly, it is very important to ensure that children's formal education remains a top priority. Parents can help by setting a regular study schedule, providing assistance when needed, and communicating openly with teachers or school staff to monitor their child's academic progress. By keeping formal education as a foundation, children will have a strong foundation for their future, both as influencers and in any other career they may choose.

Second, parents must be actively involved in their children's online activities. Parents also need to ensure that their children's interactions in cyberspace occur in a safe environment. Additionally, safeguarding children's online activities is an important task, as is helping them understand the importance of setting privacy settings on their social media accounts and talking about what personal information should not be shared. With proper involvement, children can carry out social media activities more safely and responsibly.

Third, parents should not only support children in using social media but also teach positive values, ethics and responsibility in using social media. They must guide children to understand the positive and negative impacts of the platform.

Fourth, parents must also be a good example in using social media. Remember that children tend to imitate their parents' behaviour, so it is important to demonstrate healthy and ethical use of social media.

Fifth, if a child gets an offer to partner with a brand or company, it is very important for parents to check the deal thoroughly. Make sure that the agreement is in line with family values and does not compromise the child's safety and well-being.

In the end, being a kidfluencer is not just a matter of making a profit. Parents need to see the value behind pursuing these activities for their children. With the right support, children can undertake their journey as kidfluencers with responsibility and a healthy balance without having to sacrifice their lives as individuals who are still hungry for a social life.

Parents have the power to make money from their children's participation in these commercial activities. However, along with this power comes the responsibility to ensure the protection of their human rights.