The rise of child influencers – known as ‘kidfluencers’ – is a phenomenon that has left parents across the globe facing difficult decisions. On the one hand, a successful kidfluencer can pursue their passions, have experiences their peers can only dream of, and even become financially secure at an age long before most people start working. But on the flip side, early exposure on a global scale can leave children open to jealousy and envy, seeing them struggling to bond with their friends, while parents face accusations of exploiting their offspring.
So if your child wants to share their life online, how do you strike the right balance?
In many ways, being a kidfluencer is nothing new. Since the beginning of movies and TV, there have always been child stars. Some, like Declan Donnelly or Emma Watson, make a successful transition to adult stardom, staying level-headed and business savvy. Others, from Michael Jackson to Demi Lovato, have struggled with the legacy of fame at a young age.
Like much in the influencer sphere, there is no wrong or right answer. The best way is the one which is authentic to your child and family. As all parents know, some children are born performers. They’re the ones singing into the hairbrush aged two, putting on impromptu performances at home by four and bagging the lead in the school play lighting up the stage every year afterwards.
If your child is a natural star and wants to try their luck as a kidfluencer, then why not? We’d support them if they wanted to play football or learn a musical instrument, and this is simply another way to express their personality and creativity.
But there are several key points for parents to consider
Becoming a kidfluencer isn’t easy – it requires a tremendous amount of time and dedication. Are you able to support your child with their ambition? Do you have time to help edit videos, deal with social media channels and requests from brands and agents? What about schooling? Or the impact on your other children? Even more importantly, will your child cope emotionally? What if they are confronted in the school yard or targeted by trolls on social media? Resilience is important so your child can ride it out.
It’s also vital too to bank their earnings for the future so they feel their work produced results for them. Talk to your child’s agent or an influencer tax expert on the best way to do this.
It’s also worth considering working hours. In the UK, children can only work for 12 hours a week, so factor this in. If your child feels comfortable with all of the above, then you have a solid groundwork to get started.
Kidfluencing can go wrong and sadly sometimes does
To avoid the pitfalls, there are four watch-outs to steer your child’s career.
- Firstly, never ever force a child into it. It has to be their choice, not yours.
- Secondly, choose your subject matter appropriately. There have been some awful cases where parents think they are helping – but causing severe embarrassment or worse to their child. Famous examples include a stepdad posting a video about his stepdaughter’s first period. He claimed it was empowering – but how do you think the little girl felt at school the next day? Quite simply, if in doubt, don’t post. If you and your child have to think about it for even a nanosecond, then you know it’s not right.
- Thirdly, if the content includes pranks, consider the consequences. If it’s gentle and fun, it may just work. But more often, it comes across as cruel and calculating – which no brands want to work with.
- Finally, make a written pact that if your child asks you to take it down, if they want to stop completely or take a break, then follow their wishes and do it straight away. It might be that they have had stick at school or that they have simply grown up and no longer want their lives online. Whatever the reason, respect their wishes.
Done right, kidfluencing can be exciting, empowering, community building for children and profitable to help set them up for their future. Done wrong, it can be vastly damaging, as the internet never forgets. Another old adage says ‘mother knows best’- but when it comes to kidfluencing, it’s a decision that the whole family needs to be on board with and one which needs some serious and compassionate thought.