Gen Z activist Chris McCarty is on a mission to advocate for the children of influencers

quit clicking kids
quit clicking kids

Gen Z is the first generation to grow up totally online. However, growing up with influencer parents has its issues, especially when it comes to monetized content. In this episode of ITK: Behind the Screens, our host, Niamh Adkins (@niamhadkins), looks into how people advocate for new standards for children on social media.

To better understand this topic, Niamh chats with Chris McCarty, the student founder and executive director of Quit Clicking Kids (@quit_clicking_kids), which is now making waves as an advocate for children’s privacy online.

What does Quit Clicking Kids do?

Chris: “Quit Clicking Kids is an advocacy and legislative organization. I founded Quit Clicking Kids first and foremost to raise awareness about the issue of children who are monetized online. The second was pushing for legislative change to protect children who are monetized in this way.”

What legislative efforts has Quit Clicking Kids taken?

Chris: “I helped craft a bill in Washington State, and that bill didn’t pass, but it was the framework for a later bill in Illinois, and now other states are also looking to adapt that bill into their state legislature. The changes that the bills I’ve helped craft are introducing, number one, privacy protections for children who are consistently featured on these monetized channels, and the second is an avenue towards financial compensation for these children. To be regulated through this legislation, you have to meet two thresholds — one for the degree of monetization of your channel, and the second for the frequency of sharing your children on that channel.”

What are the biggest impacts of being extensively documented online as a child?

Chris: “The biggest impact is just that this is a digital footprint that’s going to potentially follow around a child forever. I think there’s a really common misconception that a child is never going to rewatch old videos of them, they’re never going to scroll down into the comment section and see what people are saying about them. And I think there’s also a misconception that someday, when this child is an adult and has their autonomy, and they’re applying for jobs, that this is not something that their boss is going to find on a quick Google search of them. There’s this whole trail of digital information that is going to follow people around, potentially forever.

“A lot of viewers of family vlogging accounts do form really strong attachments to the children who are featured there, to the point where they feel they can request specific content featuring the children, which is very weird because they’re not actors. This is their real self. Oftentimes, that attachment extends far enough that it prompts parents to stop sharing their children’s faces, which I think is a really promising development.”

Watch the latest installment of ITK: Behind the Screens to hear more of Niamh’s conversation with Chris.

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