Child Influencers Are At Risk Financially and Emotionally — From Their Parents.
And only one state has stepped up to offer the most token protections.
A few years ago, I was scrolling on Instagram when I came across something that truly skeeved me out: a child, four years old, posing and modeling like an adult, down to holding a Starbucks coffee cup.
The Terrifying Rise of the Child Influencer and the Parents Who Profit
Parents exploit a legal loophole to profit from their children.
I stumbled across it because I followed a fashion account that posted outfit inspiration. At the time, I believed that whoever ran the account picked accounts at random to showcase. I have since learned that, if you were a burgeoning fashion influencer, you could pay an unspecified amount of money to be featured on the page.
I clicked on the young girl’s profile and learned that she had around 200,000 followers. She had brand sponsorships. And her account was managed by her mother. Makes sense, because I struggle to think of how a four-year-old’s pudgy fingers would be able to type the requisite caption: “I just love trench coats and I’m obsessed with this one !!”
The girl — or her mother — maintained her Instagram presence since the age of two. Two years old. Imagine being posed and primped and propped into weirdly adult outfits since the age of two. Not even for a photo to share with friends or family, but to post on a public profile with the aim of growing a social media presence. To become a child influencer, and presumably influence other mothers to purchase these oddly adult outfits for their own toddlers.
I quickly fell down a rabbit hole. I spent hours finding more and more child influencers, who had varying levels of success. Some had posted hundreds of photos, but had just a few hundred followers. Others had upwards of a million followers. An overwhelming majority were young girls. And of course, all were run by the parents, typically the mom.