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The Lack of Laws Protecting Children on YouTube

Judith Boza - Teen Aspect - July 11th, 2022

The Coogan Act sometimes referred to as the California Child Actor's Bill is a statute that applies to child actors and actresses. The bill is intended to safeguard a portion of their earnings until they reach the age of majority in defense against exploitation and abuse. In response to the hardship of Jackie Coogan, who made millions of dollars as a great child actor only to learn when he was an adult that his mother and stepfather had wasted almost all of his money, the State of California passed the first Bill in 1939.

(1) In 1914, Jackie Coogan was born in Los Angeles into a family of theater performers. The youngster started performing at an early age, and his exceptional talent made him a fortune as he began his career as a child actor in his first major role in Charlie Chaplin's “The Kid” in 1921. However, due to legal restrictions, parents were required to transfer money to a child. Jackie believed he would start receiving royalties at age 21 and survived on $6 per day.

THE KID, Jackie Coogan, 1921

Children are shielded from exploitation in the performing business by entertainment restrictions that promote child security and safety in Hollywood. There is a limit and ethical understanding under the law that safeguards the child stars in this position, whether it is selecting where their financial gain goes or adjusting the working hours a child spends on set. Child performers have always had a role in our mainstream media, whether it is in classic Hollywood films, Disney Channel programs, or Netflix originals. However, it appears that these same regulations have not been able to reach one of the most popular entertainment streaming services in our culture right now: Youtube. (2) Frances Haugen, a former employee of Facebook, addressed a Senate hearing with a detailed account of the internal documents she had acquired showing a variety of negative impacts from the company's products. Senators predicted that after her hearing, support for stricter rules on Big Tech would increase. The U.S. Senate has introduced many bills aimed at ensuring the safety of everyday children using social media. During a hearing with representatives from YouTube, TikTok, and Snap Chat concurred in October 2021 that parents should have the option of erasing their children's or teenagers' online accounts. This idea is included in the historic Children's Online Privacy Protection Act's proposed revisions (COPPA).

(3) With about 32.7 million views and over 36 billion views, a Youtube channel that goes by the name of Ryan’s World follows the life of 10-year-old Ryan Guan. Ryan’s World consists of high-energy toy unboxing videos, whimsical skits, and even at-home science experiments.


Some spectators find it concerning how often Ryan’s World posts videos on Youtube. With a posting schedule of about once every 1-3 days for the last 3 years, it isn’t hard to assume that Ryan Guan is being exploited for monetary gain. (4) Although Ryan's Toy Review may have started with the best of intentions, estimations put the channel's annual revenue at about $22 million (US Dollars). When you are making that much money, you are not a young child playing with toys; you are a business.

(5) On Youtube's official website, the company makes sure to clearly state the rules and regulations protecting children's safety on the platform. Youtube makes reference to their video filtration system, as well as the parental controls that are offered to parents who are concerned with what their children are consuming on the website. However, there is no mention of any restrictions or limitations on the origins of these videos anywhere in the report. There is no policy limiting the number of videos these young children can produce in a single week, nor any guideline to guarantee the security of the kids in these family vlogs. For Youtube, as long as the content is wholesome and proper, the possible exploitation of the minors in front of these millions of viewers is unimportant and irrelevant.







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