With the rise of children becoming social media influencers, it’s important to reflect on how much information we put online, not only about ourselves but about people who don’t quite have the ability to grasp the ramifications of sharing their lives online.
We wanted to look at child influencers to better understand why parents choose to share their children's lives online and whether or not it’s the right thing to do.
Some parents decide to put their children’s lives on the Internet to show off their talent. For others, though, it’s simple to make money.
But where children and the online world are concerned, where do the lines blur? When does a parent sharing their kid’s life become too much and when is it okay?
How much can child influencers earn?
If you haven’t yet heard of Ryan Toys Review, you’ve been hiding under a rock. He’s an unboxing YouTuber, which means his parents film him opening new toys and playing with them.
He’s one of the highest paid earners on Youtube and he’s only 8. His top videos have amassed views that brands can only dream of receiving.
Many parents see the success famous child influencers have online and want to emulate that for their child, either to earn money or help them out in later life.
Should your kid have instagram?
Before we even get onto the topic of being a child influencer, we should consider whether it’s a good thing for children to have social media in the first place. Although social media can be a great place to reconnect with old friends and learn about new trends, it’s also a place of bullying, spam, and hatred - not something we want to expose young, impressionable children to.
What’s more, most social networks have a minimum age requirement for a reason. Even with the minimum age requirement, a majority of social networks are focussed on creating a safe online place for all users and so restrict access to certain types of content based on age.
If you allow your children to use Instagram and they’re under 18, you should make sure you monitor their use. With the online world, it’s never clear who your children are talking to or what they’re saying.
In the same way you’d want your children to be safe in the offline world, take the same measures in the online world. (Please comply with all social networks minimum age requirements).
Steps you can take to ensure safety on social networks for children:
- Make sure all their accounts are private.
- Be sure to omit all personal information. Your child doesn't need to write down what school they attend or even what area they live in if all their followers are people you actually know
- Make sure you check everyone that follows your child online. If you notice someone they don’t know - block them.
- Keep track of what they comment on other people’s social channels. As much as it’s important to keep your own child safe, it’s important to take action if your child is the one spreading harmful information.
Who’s doing the work? Who should get paid?
If you’re an adult influencer, you’re the one creating the content - therefore, when it comes to payment, you’re the one who gets paid. You might outsource work like editing, sound or administrative tasks to someone else but it’s your business so you get to decide how and when you use your money.
When considering children influencers, though, it’s a different ball game. Yes, the children create the content, but the rest of the influencer business is run by the parents. So who gets the money?
Two twin influencers, Taytum and Oakley are regulars on their family's daily vlog channel on YouTube with over 3 million subscribers.
When it comes to their income, the parents argue that because they’re the ones negotiating with brands and organizing the shoots, they get to decide how the money is spent.
They added as long as parents aren’t using their kids to make money and keeping it all for themselves, there is no harm.
Many parents of child influencers keep a portion of their child’s income in high interest savings account to help them provide for their own future. Others even give a set portion of earnings to charity each month.
When does children being influencers become an issue?
Another thing to think about is children’s consent. Most parents would agree that when their child doesn’t want to do something - they will never be forced. Ask any parent of a child influencer and they’ll tell you that their child gets to decide what they agree or disagree to on social media.
But the problem is, how much consent can they really give if they don’t fully comprehend what they’re consenting to? When you put information, videos, content online, it’s there forever. Deleting it all is next to impossible so what happens if, as your child grows up, they no longer want their content online.
Granted, you can delete their accounts on social networks, but what about the content others have saved and shared? You don’t have control of that and once you put your child’s content out there online, you’re giving the entire world access to it for as long as they want.
Things to keep in mind with child influencers
Often, children of celebrities will become influencers simply by default of being a relative of a famous person. This is not new and has happened since celebrities existed. There is, however, a huge difference between the child of a famous person being an influencer and a parent creating social accounts for their children.
First, traditional celebrities are used to being in the public eye. Many have had PR training that helps them navigate a world where newspapers and press journalists are on the hunt for mistakes they can turn into stories.
The average public is less clued up about how to handle being in the public eye and without the right support and training, you could end up doing a disservice to your children. Putting them in the public eye in the wrong way could have negative effects on their life moving forwards. These effects, however, will only become known to them once they realise the ramifications of having their lives shared online.
The final verdict
There will never be a clear-cut answer as to whether it’s right or wrong to allow children to be social media influencers. There are plenty of arguments for it and plenty against.
One thing we can agree on is that parents, brands and influencer companies need to ensure that if they’re working with child influencers online, that they take as many measures as possible to ensure the happiness and safety of these children are top priority.
Prioritising views, engagement or revenue over the child’s happiness and comfortability is a sure-fire way to turn child-influencers from something that can be fun for the parent and child into a landmine of lawsuits and unhappy children.
What do you think about children being influencers? Leave your thoughts below.