Regulation and the Booming “Kidfluencer” Business: What Small Businesses Need to Know

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From beauty gurus to fitness enthusiasts, social media influencers have amassed enormous followings, capable of swaying consumer behavior. However, a new breed of influencers, known as “kidfluencers,” is on the rise, reshaping the landscape of children’s entertainment and making substantial profits along the way.

The story of the “kidfluencer” phenomenon began humbly with a three-year-old boy named Ryan Kaji, who simply played with a Lego “choo-choo train.” His mother, Loann, uploaded the video to a newly created YouTube channel called “Ryan ToysReview.” Little did they know that this innocent recording would skyrocket them to stardom. Now 11 years old, Ryan, under the rebranded channel “Ryan’s World,” boasts an impressive 35 million subscribers, establishing himself as YouTube royalty.

Joining Ryan in leading the charge are other young influencers like nine-year-old “Like Nastya.” According to Forbes, Ryan earned a staggering $27 million in 2021, while “Like Nastya” made an impressive $28 million. These kidfluencers create content that directly appeals to their fellow youngsters, engaging in make-believe play, showcasing new toys, and even offering tutorials on various subjects. It comes as no surprise that a Pew Research Centre survey revealed that 81% of American parents allow their three to four-year-olds to watch YouTube.

Brands and marketers have taken notice of the lucrative potential of kidfluencers. Ad revenue from videos and brand partnerships have become significant income sources for these young stars. Companies are willing to pay substantial amounts to collaborate with these influencers and tap into a very young audience. For some families, this newfound revenue stream has become an opportunity for new experiences or funding their children’s education.

Initially, these kid-influenced accounts felt like family-run businesses, but now production companies are stepping in to seize the opportunity. For instance, Ryan’s World has partnered with, an entertainment studio collaborating with 45 top kid creators. This strategic alliance has allowed Ryan to land lucrative deals with brands like Nintendo and Mattel. Additionally, has expanded Ryan’s content to children’s television channels and streaming services, while also creating his own branded merchandise, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in sales worldwide.

Despite the thriving success of kidfluencers, regulatory concerns have surfaced. Watchdogs accuse some creators of not adequately disclosing sponsored content in toy videos. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cracked down on targeted advertisements on YouTube videos aimed at children and accused the platform of illegally collecting data from underage users. As a result, channels must now label content specifically for children. The FTC is also reviewing research on advertising disclosures, as current practices may not be effective for kids. Potential regulatory action could significantly impact kidfluencer marketing.

Some child influencers find themselves inheriting large followings from their “momfluencer” parents, who document their lives online. Families like the LaBrants have amassed millions of followers, even for their youngest children. Other mini influencers emerge, serving as ambassadors for clothing lines or represented by talent agencies traditionally working with actors. This shift in advertising is evident in the remarkable projected growth of influencer marketing, expected to reach $21.1 billion this year, up from $1.7 billion in 2016, according to Influencer Marketing Hub.

However, the landscape of social media is continually evolving, making it more challenging for new kidfluencer stars to rise rapidly. While the industry once believed anyone could become the next overnight sensation, experts like Greg Alkalay emphasize the increased difficulty. Critics also raise concerns about the potential exploitation of child influencers, who lack the legal protections afforded to child actors under the Coogan Law.

As kidfluencers grow older, their interests and aspirations may shift, leading to changes in their content. Families like Ryan’s prioritize their well-being and pivot into educational content and cartoons. Some kidfluencers seek transitions to platforms like TikTok and Instagram, exploring new opportunities. However, maintaining audience engagement during these changes can be challenging, as followers may have initially connected with them for different content. Moreover, some kidfluencers might eventually tire of creating videos and opt for a return to a more ordinary reality.

In conclusion, the world of kidfluencers is a rapidly evolving phenomenon. New stars are continually emerging, supported by their parents and partnering with production companies. Brands are keen to tap into the influence of these young social media stars, but regulatory concerns loom on the horizon. As the industry evolves, child influencers will continue to shape the marketing landscape, with their futures influenced by changing regulations and the ever-dynamic realm of social media.


Q: Are there any regulations in place for kidfluencers? A: Yes, there are regulations in place to protect children involved in influencer marketing. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires channels to label content specifically for children and is reviewing advertising disclosures to ensure they effectively work for kids.

Q: How do kidfluencers make money? A: Kidfluencers make money through ads on their videos and by partnering with brands. Brands see an opportunity to reach a young audience and are willing to pay for collaborations with these influencers.

Q: Are there concerns about the exploitation of kidfluencers? A: Yes, there are concerns about the exploitation of kidfluencers. Critics argue that child influencers lack the legal protections afforded to child actors, such as the Coogan Law.

Q: What is the future of kidfluencers? A: The future of kidfluencers is uncertain. As they grow up, their interests and aspirations may change, and they may transition to different platforms or pursue other careers. The impact of regulations and the ever-changing landscape of social media will shape the future of this industry.

First reported by The Economist.

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Becca Williams is a writer, editor, and small business owner. She writes a column for and many more major media outlets.