Influencer parents are exploiting their children for fame and money: It's time to enforce The Coogan Act

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Using one’s kid as a prop in one’s influencer videos is not an issue of subsistence. The Coogan Act or some new version should definitely be applied here. Even then, it’s only a financial remedy – bad parents (e.g. the narcissists and greedheads who typically become professional social media “influencers”) can severely screw up a child by forcing them into showbiz.

I was briefly acquainted with an '80s child mega-star in high school – nice fellow but the poor guy had zero idea how to interact with peers his own age (and despite the existence of the Coogan Act his parents also stole all the money he earned).

This seems like a campaign that Wil Wheaton could promote. He’s been open about his parents being abusive and greedy jerks and he has solid opinions on the damage social media does.


The Coogan Act is a state law in California, which is helpful to anyone who works in Hollywood but maybe not so much in the much less centralized world of social media.

Is there a similar law that protects child performers nationwide?


I read this article last night and have read other similar ones in the last couple years.
All I can say is - fuck these freak parents.

I mean -

I first read about this case in a long piece in the LA Times -


I was going to post that NYT article. It’s very, very disturbing.

When I was in college and thinking about careers, my very insightful aunt told me about the concept of “golden handcuffs,” where you take a job that’s not exactly what you want to do (and might even bump up a little against your value system) because it pays really well, and then once you get used to being paid really well, you can’t possibly walk away, even if it turns out to REALLY be inconsistent with your goals/values.

I think that’s a big part of what’s happening here, only the parents aren’t just handcuffing themselves–they’re handcuffing their kids, too.

The influencer thing is very similar to the stage mom thing. Most parents justify it by saying that they’re simply helping the kids do what the kids want to do (there’s plenty of that in the NYT article). And that’s usually at least half true (kids these days WANT to be Instagram and Youtube stars, just like prior generations wanted to be movie and rock stars). But for those who actually achieve some success, it becomes really hard for the parents to stop, even when it becomes apparent that they’re hurting their kids. Cf Heather Armstrong (RIP).

That said, there’s no excuse for the parents who purposely pose their tweens and young teens in bikinis and sell instagram subscriptions to old dudes. That’s just child abuse.


Very insightful aunt. I’ve not heard that term before.
But yea, these people are now in a position where they are making ridiculous money for posting videos online and they can’t imagine turning off that spigot.
I won’t even begin to speculate WHY anyone would want to watch people and their kids playing in the yard or going on vacation or any of that nonsense, but whatever. Though we know per that article why those creeps do, JFC.


So many sad quotes amongst the linked-articles, but this one stood out to me.

Still, many of the would-be influencers suffer. In some instances criticism of the posts, and accompanying bullying, becomes so severe that mothers turn to home-schooling.

“She got slaughtered all through primary school,” said Kaelyn, the mother in Melbourne. “Children were telling her, ‘We can’t play with you because my mom said too many perverts follow you on the internet.’”

So there’s a kid arguably being exploited by a toxic parent, who could greatly benefit from being able to observe non-toxic parent/child relationships, but some other parents at the school are avoiding that, so they end up being isolated in a home-school, meaning they’re even less likely to be able to see how non-exploitative parenting works.

Also, seems weird to me that the article only ever refers to mom-run accounts and instamoms. They didn’t find a single case of a dad-run account? I don’t find that believable. Leaves me wondering how many “mom-run accounts” are being run by a male guardian without the knowlege of any female guardian.



I haven’t read it yet because that is not something I want to read right before I sleep but the NYT article probably focuses on mom run accounts because that’s more sensational. Because it’s somehow worse when it’s the mother exploiting their child for money. It’s the same way that articles about mothers who sell their children for men to sexually abuse and rape get more traction than similar articles about fathers doing the same thing. A little dash of misogyny to go with the horror of the subject matter


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