Opinion | TikTok babies are a dilemma with no clear answer

Before they can say the word “video”, the twins Scout and Violet Knight they have earned more than five million fans on TikTok. The his mother, maya knightshe films the twins almost every day and talks about her challenges raising them as a single mother.

As these videos gained popularity, Knight’s social media became her full-time job, allowing her to financially support her daughters while spending time with them at home. Knight isn’t alone in raising kids who are famous on TikTok before they can say “TikTok” — she’s one of many parents who are posting videos of their babies for fortune and fame.

Something doesn’t feel right about a parent monetizing their child’s private life on social media, especially when some kids aren’t given the option to show their lives online. Upon closer examination, the dangers seem to outweigh the benefits of fame.

Parents monetize your children’s work in industries other than social media. Farmers’ children work for them. sometimes no salary. Children can also work for an unlimited number of hours in a family business. Even in the entertainment business, the parents of some child actors They have taken an unfair share of your income.

But should TikTok kids be placed in this same category, especially if they would do the same action if they weren’t being filmed?

Ultimately, since young children are the subjects of the revenue-generating videos, they are working. Even if they choose to take the actions, the fact that they are generating income does not change. This opens a field of legal complications since child labor the laws have not been adapted to child influencers‘ Unusual working conditions.

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Child actors have legal protections that keep them safe on the job. When a performing arts company employs children or infants, it must adhere to workplace safety measures and comply with applicable child labor laws. prevent children from working too many hours.

These standards are almost impossible to impose on famous TikTok kids who would seem work at home for an unlimited number of hours. Parents can film their children at bedtime, eating and playing, making it difficult to limit and quantify the amount of work a child does each day to set fair safety standards.

Experts agree that overdocumentation can affect a child’s life, even make them feel overly important and overly critical of themselves. Around the age of 4 or 5, children already have a sense of self – meaning social networks can influence how they act and perceive themselves. Additionally, posting countless photos and videos of a child puts them at significant risk of identity theft, fraud and exploitation.

At its core, social media is a showcase of what the creator wants others to know about their life. But millions of people watch the daily lives of TikTok babies seemingly without their consent about what content they want the world to see.

Unlike child actors, for the famous children on TikTok, there is very little separation, if any, between their real lives and their lives in front of the camera. They are the “characters” that fans are interested in: their fame is based on an apparent violation of their privacy. They are brought into the world, put in front of a camera and forced to deal with the consequences.

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It’s easy for me, oblivious to the financial situation of each family, to decide that parents should stop making their children famous on TikTok until there are more security protections. But children reap significant benefits from this fame, which complicates how to assess the costs and benefits of children on social media.

Ultimately, posting to social media should be an option, and that’s taken away from many TikTok babies.

Talia Spillerman writes about anything and everything. write to her [email protected].