Child influencers lash out at parents who turned them into social media stars

"That's not fair that I have to support everyone," Claire said. "I try not to be resentful but I kind of [am]."

The children of parents who used them for internet fame are beginning to speak out on the recent explosion of family "vloggers" on TikTok and YouTube, and the negative impact having a digital footprint that they had no control of has had on them. 

A well-known child "influencer" using the pseudonym "Claire" told Teen Vogue on Friday about the drama and discomfort her family's vlog channel with millions of subscribers has caused, saying "it's a lot of pressure," and that she has plans to speak out against the exploitation publicly once she's 18 and able to move out. She's even "considering going no-contact with her parents," interviewer Fortesa Latifi wrote.

According to the publication, the channel includes "hundreds of videos featuring Claire and members of her family," showing the girl grow from a toddler into a teenager over the years.

"On Instagram, fans comment they miss videos from the old days. In public, people sometimes recognize her and ask for photos. Altogether, the family's YouTube channel has over a billion views but if it were up to Claire, none of the videos would exist.," Latifi said.

Claire told the outlet that her parents left their jobs when she went viral as a small child in order to grow their YouTube page, which got them a nicer house and car. 

"That's not fair that I have to support everyone," she said. "I try not to be resentful but I kind of [am]."

She recounted how when she once told her father that she wanted to stop making videos, she was told that her parents would need to get jobs again, they would have to move out of their house, and would stop having money for "nice things."

Latifi continued, "When the family is together, the YouTube channel is what they talk about. Claire says her father has told her he may be her father, but he's also her boss."

Popular family vlog channels such as "The ACE Family" have amassed over 18 million YouTube subscribers, raking in millions of dollars for showing their children growing up in a lavish lifestyle. The parents, Austin and Catherine McBroom, have been brought up in conversations surrounding the topic as one of the most well-known instances of children becoming famous at young ages on social media. 

There is no guarantee that Claire, the McBroom's children, or any other child social media personalities will ever get to personally see the money made from appearing in viral internet videos, as child labor laws regarding social media have yet to catch up with the times. Such legislation currently only exists for kids on larger screens, such as the California Child Actor's Bill, also known as the Coogan Act, after old Hollywood child star Jackie Coogan whose parents spent away the millions of dollars he earned as a child. 

Under the Coogan Act, 15 percent of minors' earnings must be set aside for the future. Now, former child social media stars are lobbying for something similar to guarantee rights for the children of family channels.

According to Teen Vogue, activists and lawmakers are already pushing for "protections for the privacy and earnings of children of influencers in states like Washington, where a proposed bill that is currently stalled in the Washington State House would ensure similar protections" as Coogan's Law.

The publication also profiled Cam, 24, who posts on TikTok about the horrors of being raised in the internet's public eye. In February, she testified before the Washington state House Civil Rights & Judiciary committee in favor of HB 1627, recalling how her mother's incessant documentation of her life to her Facebook page with 10,000 followers led to several traumatic instances.

According to Cam, who hasn't gone by her legal name "Caymi" in years due to her digital footprint, "It's easier to tell you what my mom didn't post." During her testimony, she gave examples including the "intimate details" of her first period at age nine being broadcasted, a man who recognized her while she was out riding her bike at 12 following her, and teachers at school telling students to stay away from the "infected girl" when her mom blasted her MRSA diagnosis online.

"I plead you to be the voice of this generation of children, because I know firsthand what it's like to not have a choice," she said in her closing argument. 

According to NBC News, the proposed bill would allow the child stars to "request permanent deletion of their likenesses, names, or photos" once they are 18.

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