“Child influencers”: is this reasonable?


Their names are Swan, Kalys, Athena, Ryan, Mila, Lili-Rose or Hugo. They are sometimes nicknamed the “Sephora kids”. They are between 3 and 15 years old, and they are followed by millions of fans on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. They are child influencers. These minor children, sometimes even still babies, are exposed daily by their parents to “views” and with the knowledge of the entire web.

Behind these seemingly innocent and spontaneous publications there is often a real business. In France, no less than 70% of influencer parents say they earn up to 5,000 euros per month thanks to the numerous commercial partnerships they sign with brands, making them their main source of income.

To do this, they do not hesitate to feature their children, the goal being to capture and retain their audience at all costs. Unwrapping gifts, humorous sketches, challenges, toy tests, the children are put to the test to increase the audiences.

Some children, called “kid influencers” even have their own account. This is the case of Tiago , 4 years old, whose Instagram account, created by his parents Manon and Julien Tanti, reality TV stars, has more than 1.3 million subscribers.


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A post shared by Tiago Tanti (@tiagotanti)

These influencer parents most often present themselves as models of success, capable of offering their children a dream life, filled with travel, gifts, leisure activities… But at what cost?

A childhood sometimes put in danger

Indeed, this exposure is not without consequences on the psychological and social development of the child. As evidenced by YouTuber Emma , ​​star of TikTok, who has nearly 2 million subscribers on the social network. The 20-year-old young woman frankly confides that she was the victim of cyberharassment during her high school years through the mockery and hateful messages from certain Internet users.


Even more worrying, Ruby Franke, an American parenting influencer followed by nearly 2.5 million subscribers for her educational advice, was sentenced in February 2024 to a sentence of up to 30 years in prison for mistreatment of her children. However, she showed a perfect life with her husband and 6 children on a YouTube channel “8 Passengers”, since deactivated.


The scandal erupted when one of her children, aged 12, escaped through the window of their home, revealing conditions of extreme malnutrition and abuse. Authorities discovered that she also abused her other children, going so far as to force them to do heavy physical labor without food or water in the heat.

A necessary awareness

On February 6, 2024, a new bill aimed at guaranteeing respect for children’s image rights supplemented the previous one , dated October 19, 2020. The text reinforces the obligation of parents to ensure privacy. of their child, including their image rights, and prohibits them from publishing or distributing any image of their child without their informed consent. It also allows the family court judge to prohibit a parent from publishing or disseminating any image of their child without the agreement of the other parent, particularly in the event of conflict or danger for the child.

This is indeed an important step forward in favor of the protection of child influencers. However, there is still a way to go. Indeed, the very fact that the legislator was obliged to provide a legal framework for these new practices should question us, as a society, about our digital practices and the collective but also above all individual responsibility of all stakeholders. .

First of all, parent influencers must take greater responsibility. Their role remains essential in supervising this practice, and in respecting the development of their children through their right to their image and their privacy. Any sign of stress or fatigue displayed by the child should alert them to the potential discomfort of their offspring. After all, their children are children like any other; they also have the right to a childhood like others.

At the same time, brands that use “kid influencers” or their parents to promote their products must assume an essential responsibility. Indeed, our research presented at a conference in 2022 highlights a content co-creation relationship between the influencer and the brand, encouraging companies to grant a certain freedom to influencers in content creation. However, it remains crucial that this approach does not distract brands from the working conditions of the children involved.

“I protect my child”

Online platforms must also fulfill their protective mission by guaranteeing the safety and moderation of content involving children. This involves awareness campaigns, like the one proposed by the government in February 2023 , and support for influencer parents. Any disturbing or sensitive content concerning children must therefore be removed and dereferenced.

Finally, Internet users also have their share of responsibility in this situation. Their reactions, sometimes violent, can seriously affect the well-being of children. In addition, they have the power, through a simple click, to report or even boycott content that violates children’s rights.

In France, there are examples of good practices or initiatives aimed at protecting the rights and interests of children on social networks. For example, the e-Enfance association , recognized as being of public utility, offers awareness-raising, support and defense actions for children and adolescents on the Internet. In particular, she runs the Net Ecoute system, which offers a free and anonymous listening, advice and guidance service for young victims of cyberharassment, cybersexism, or even cyberpornography.

Another example is that of the YouTube channel “Little Citizens” . Created by the eponymous association, its content aims to educate children in the values ​​of the Republic, citizenship and human rights. This channel offers fun and educational videos that address many social topics such as freedom of expression, secularism to name just a few.

Author Bios: Elodie Jouny-Rivier is a Teacher-Researcher in marketing at the ESSCA School of Management and Douniazed Filali-Boissy is an Associate Professor – Marketing Department at ICN Business School