The Impact of Social Media Influencers on Children
The world of social media is getting bigger with time. So is its impact on how the world functions. While businesses have been using social media as a great advertising medium, a large majority of the population still use it to consume content of their near and dear ones. Following their favorite public figure on social media is also a trend that is mostly leveraged by brands looking to reach out to their target audience. This has given rise to influencer marketing on social media.
More and more people are adopting the lifestyle and the products used by their favorite social media influencers without giving thought to what exactly is happening behind the scenes. The most affected by the social media influencers are children who are impressionable and easily influenced. In this post, we are going to discuss exactly this issue and figure out the ways to help children not get trapped in the trend.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Before we start talking about the ill-effects of social media influencers on children, it is important to understand what influencer marketing is. As we earlier mentioned, people like to follow their favorite public figures and people who create interesting content on social media. They like to consume their content and also engage with them. This provides the public figures an opportunity to influence your purchasing behavior and brands love to pay them to do exactly that. This is a simple way brands use to reach thousands and millions of people overnight. The influencers are told what to say and how to say it. The content is well-polished before it goes live. What we are trying to tell you here is that there’s a lot that happens behind the influencers holding a product and a smile.
But, has that started happening recently? No. Before the Internet penetrated our lives, there were magazines, newspapers, and television where edited pictures of celebrities with a product were published. Did that not make any influence on the children? Well, they did. But, not at the same scale social media influencers do today. Today a large population of children is exposed to the Internet world and social media. Thus the chances of getting in contact with influencers is far more than what it was a decade ago.
How The Social Media Influencers Affect Children?
When it comes to social media seemingly real people are influencing young people from their self esteem to what they buy. On Instagram, for example, influencers use photos and videos to show life at its most perfect. Now, to create a perfect selfie, all you need to do is edit it using one of the thousands image editors available on the Internet – two to three minutes of editing and voila! You have a picture ready to go online. The original photo influencers take, don’t quite compete with what they produce after the editing is over.
These so called Instagram Influencers putting their perfect pictures with the perfect poses online know the game very well. This highly curated version of these influencers is what children are most fond of as their reality becomes more and more unacceptable to them. The quest to live the life of the influencers they follow makes them take outrageous steps that are increasingly becoming dangerous to their mental health.
Children, mostly teens, develop a sense of identity when they compare themselves with their peers. This becomes a problem when the same comparison is being made online with doctored, therefore misleading photos. A recent study by a leading university in the United States claimed that children are more likely to consume unhealthy food after seeing their favorite influencer do that online.
But the influencer culture is not just affecting their behavior as a buyer, it is also making the teens follow the footsteps of the influencers. Kids are getting influenced by the fame and brand collaborations of the influencers online and are making efforts to reach the same level of popularity. What it leads to is what makes most parents worry – a low self esteem.
Children are producing content and posting them online. They are looking for more likes and shares on the platform because that’s how one grows on it. In other words, the self esteem of teens today is getting wrapped around by the number of likes and comments they get on their content. This is not a great place to be since they are reaching out for a life that is not real. The consequences can be dire.
What Should be Done to Curb The Problem?
The future of these children are at stake. The influencer marketing world will not stop just to help them. It’s a million dollar industry now and is helping influencers and brands make huge profits. The onus, therefore, is on the parents. They will have to take actions that will help their children not follow the mirage created by doctored pictures.
Here’s what parents can do.
Parents need to have honest conversations with their kids. It is important for the parents to make their kids realize what actually is happening in the influencer marketing world. They should ask simple yet impactful questions like –
- Who created the picture and the advertisement? What does the influencer say?
- Has the product influencer recommended shown up earlier in the posts as well or just this one?
- What was the objective behind the influencer posting the picture? Was it to make people laugh or aware about any cause or just to influence your purchasing behavior?
- Has the influencer given all the information you need to make up your mind?
- Finally, what does the post make your children feel?
Here’s something you need to understand. There are influencers who are doing a great job at making society aware of possible threats to its sanctity and unity and have been promoting the products they genuinely like using. So, influencer marketing is not bad for the kids in general. Therefore, it is important for the kids to choose their influencers responsibly.
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