The connectivity and community that social media can cultivate is inevitable. Hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people worldwide now have the first time to connect without ever meeting face-to-face. Interest groups are made, advice is shared, relationships are made, and content is consumed unlike ever before. And while that may all sound great and convenient, there can also be a side to this new online world that may not be so safe. Specifically when kids are involved.
With the rise of the internet, virality and fame are more accessible than ever before. And the code for success was cracked early on; videos or pictures of children posted on the internet being cute, funny, smart, etc. were much more likely to go viral. This phenomenon in combination with the fast-growing influencer market has now blurred the lines of what is considered exploitative and endearing content on the internet.
There are age restrictions and laws in place on the internet and social media platforms for a reason, so the allowance of children having accounts under their names with “ran by mom and dad” written in the bio sparks some red flags. The internet can be a dark and scary place at times, especially when there is consistent content being put out of a child for the whole world to see.
Below, I’ve highlighted a couple of the most prominent types of child influencers within the social media landscape and how they fit into the conversation of child exploitation on the internet.
Family vloggers are YouTubers/social media influencers whose primary content consists of inside looks at their family life, and more specifically, their children. Oftentimes, these children don’t even know what’s going on, believing that having cameras in their faces is a normal experience. Some notable examples of family vloggers are The LaBrant Family, The Ace Family, and Roman Atwood Vlogs. This is such a new phenomenon that regulation can be tricky, however, something must be done. Young children are being exploited for the sake of a paycheck, and influencer marketing has become so prominent that people have now found loopholes in the types of content deemed appropriate by community, age, and privacy standards.
To learn more about this phenomenon and how it can be applied to every day social media users, watch this video by The Atlantic below:
The fact that child influencers have such large-scale followings just proves that the age restrictions set on social media have no serious implications, and these platforms have no incentive to do anything about it. The rise of the kidfluencer-someone under the age of 16 with a following/presence on social media, usually participating in sponsored content- has allowed brands and marketers to place children in a position of wealth, fame, and monetary success at a very young age for simply existing (and most likely considered relatively “cute”).
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