With the growth of social media platforms, there has been a new surge of people who are called social media influencers. If you don’t know what these social media influencers are, then you have been living under a rock. Social media influencers are people who work primarily on social media and can have an impact on your children.
So there are a variety of social media influencers on different interaction platforms. They range anywhere from gamers, Instagram models, travel influencers, comedians, artists to even daily life bloggers. Social media influencers have a lot of impact on their followers.
Now, there has been a rising concern for the impact these media influencers have on young minds. Kids talk about such influencers at school, set standards and kids may end up learning unsafe things at schools just to be like influencers.
So should you be concerned about the presence of these influencers in your kids’ lives? Let’s learn more about them and their impacts.
Who are Social Media Influencers?
Social Media Influencers are either famous social media personalities or celebrities who earn through promoting brands. These people usually have a large base of followers following them on their social media profiles. These people can be vloggers, streamers, YouTubers, or just famous on social networking sites.
There are social media personalities on all social media platforms. But they are most popular on Instagram, Tik Tok, and YouTube, where they watch vlogs. They often partner with other brands or sell their merchandise as a form of income.
Parents are increasingly worried about how kids are influenced by the marketing and general posts of these influencers. The impact of social media influencers on children are both desirable and undesirable. By the influence of such people and kids not meeting the ideal standards set up, there are cases of cyberbullying in kids. It also includes bullying on social media platforms.
While influencers have helped children improve several aspects of their life, they have also been accused of causing unwanted issues. Hence, if you are a parent, we have created a list of the negative and positive impacts of social media influencers on children. This list may help you evaluate how social media affects teenagers and young children.
Negative Impact of Social Media Influencers on Children
Social media influencers often promote materials as a part of their affiliate marketing. They are often signed on as brand ambassadors for different brands that they work in the field. Their main objective is to make their followers also buy the products that they are promoting.
They do so by showing an affinity to the product. They promote the product making it often seem like the solution to every problem in existence. It proves to be one of the biggest problematic aspects of influencers. They want to tell their audiences to purchase more and more products that they are advertising. These advertisements can impact young impressionable minds to purchase these products.
Influencers are also often criticized for showing off everything that they own. They often feature branded clothes, expensive gadgets and vehicles on their profiles. This behavior leads to the promotion of consumerism and materialism in children.
Children also feel that they need everything that the influencers they admire have. They associate materialism with leading a better life. This association often tends to be problematic for parents when their children spend large sums of money on non-productive ways rather than finding happiness in what they already have.
Body image issues are a big subject when it comes to social media and social media personalities. Influencers such as Instagram models usually post photos and videos showing their bodies. These photographs are usually edited to fix the lighting and photo structure. While that is acceptable, these influencers also photoshop or apply filters to their photos and videos to alter their bodies.
Their bodies are made to please the audience where they have these unattainable figures. They edit their photos to make them look perfect, and they only post the best versions of these photos. It causes a mismatch with realistic body size and figures. Young children, both girls and boys, view this body type to be their standard. They want to achieve this perfect body type and pursue perfection actively.
When they cannot achieve the fake standard, they may get depressed. Teenagers feel frustration and hatred toward themselves. They develop body image issues and other mental health issues. Children might even develop severe eating disorders such as bulimia.
Consumption Of Unhealthy Food Or Beverages Advertising
If you have ever heard of Mukbang, you know this is an extremely problematic aspect of influencers. Mukbang is a trend on Youtube where Youtubers or influencers eat large amounts of food. They eat unhealthy food. During most Mukbang, the “Mukbanger” will consume almost anything in a big amount, from dumplings to burgers and beyond.
Usually, vloggers or YouTubers, who are now called “mukbangers” tend to eat food that people crave, which is usually extremely unhealthy food. Mukbangs are seen as challenges to their viewers. They also crave these unhealthy foods and beverages consumed by their favourite influencer. It encourages unhealthy dietary behavior.
Children watch vlogs of these “Mukbangers” and get inspired to consume a similar amount of unhealthy foods. They perceive eating unhealthy food in such a large amount as being normal. Another aspect of dietary behaviors affected by influencers unhealthy foods and beverages advertising.
They promote unhealthy substances like slimming teas and weight loss pills. These products are extremely harmful to your child. Some influencers are also known to promote fast-food, which might impact your child to eat more junk food.
Setting Unhealthy Life Standards And Expectations
Like setting unhealthy body standards, influencers are also blamed for creating unhealthy living standards. They always show that their life is perfect by showing mansions and luxury vehicles. They wear branded clothes and accessories and show family affluence.
These influencers also travel to exotic islands and party with their friends. It is the image that they put forward on their social media. Most of it is done due to brand deals and paid promotions. They are contracted to promote luxury due to affiliate marketing, not due to family affluence.
But this is not what life looks like for normal people like us. It is not the standard of living that we compare ourselves with. We do not expect to be happy just because we own the most expensive items. But when children watch vlogs and assume it as their standard of life, it can be extremely damaging.
They perceive that earning money is easy and expect to buy happiness with money. They may set these expectations for themselves. And when they cannot meet these high expectations, they get disappointed and develop anxiety disorder with themselves. They believe that they were not good enough to achieve these unreal expectations.
Negative Impact on Mental Health
All of the above issues ultimately affect the mental health of children. They might develop short term or long term mental health issues. Children will never be satisfied in their life with their body or family affluence. They will always try to pursue a perfect life, as they see when they watch vlogs of social media personalities.
They will think that they cannot achieve this perfect dream because they are not good enough. But in reality, this expectation of perfection is unreal. So children develop mental health issues when they cannot cope with the fact that they can meet the fake standards. Young girls and boys who desire a perfect body might have body image issues.
They might also develop eating disorders and anxiety disorders. Teenagers might get frustrated with not having a perfect life. They might develop anxiety disorder or depression as a result. They will always try to pursue what is unreal.
Children might also grow unhealthy diets. Having an unhealthy diet can also relate to having mental health issues. They can develop an inferiority complex or anxiety disorder due to feeling inferior to the influencers they see online.
Positive Impact Of Social Media Influencers On Children
Addressing Mental Health Issues
Recently, a lot of influencers online have been talking about their mental health struggles. They are discussing everything from being bullied, being trolled to facing mean comments. It has also brought mental health issues to the forefront.
When influencers that your child idolizes talk about serious issues relating to mental health, your child will be able to better learn about these topics. They will also learn how to open up if they face similar issues at school or home.
Influencers also often talk about how they are seeking help for mental health issues. This shows the younger audience that struggling with mental health is not something to be ashamed of. They teach children that when someone has issues, they should reach out to family and friends.
The same is applied to people coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. With the inspiration they see online, queer children can come out of the closet because of the representation in media. They can better voice themselves and tend to be more confident.
Support Social Issues
Social media influencers also have had a positive impact on social issues. Firstly, famous influencers have always talked about their support for queer people. It has has pushed forward many positive changes to the now LGBTQ+ community. People have voiced out their sexuality and are now accepted due to queer influencers.
Secondly, social issues such as the momentum of the “Black Lives Matters” movement can also be attributed to social media personalities. They actively promoted and shared resources online to help the movement. They contributed to the movement by showing support, inspiring children to voice out against racism.
Some social media influencers also have been generous with philanthropic work. It helps children inspire to follow suit. It helps them learn examples of doing the right thing. Influencers have been setting examples of this by donating to charities and social causes.
An example can be taken of YouTuber Mr. Beast and his Team Trees movement. With the help of other influencers, Mr. Beast made and contributed to a foundation that will reforest our planet. It provides a valuable lesson for children on the importance of giving back.
Exposing To Different Cultures And Perspectives
Social media connects us with people around the world. We can communicate with anyone halfway across the world. We can also consume media from any country or any state. It means that we can also follow influencers from anywhere in the world. We are not only limited to following local social media influencers. Someone from the US can be a follower of a Japanese influencer in Japan.
We have no limitation of who we want to follow. So following influencers from other parts of the world can be a great lesson for learning cultural diversity for kids. Children can learn to be more open-minded and accepting of other cultures when they are seeing people who inspire them from other cultures.
They will also see other perspectives of the world and learn new ways of doing things. They will learn to love and appreciate diversity in their personal life as well. It is also an opportunity for children to explore and learn food and lifestyle habits from other parts of the world.
Some social media influencers are famous for producing works of art. Whether it be music, art or building something, they inspire children to be more creative in their daily life. Some influencers make videos on how to build or make something. We can take cooking influencers as an example. They teach their audience to cook delicious meals and bake quick desserts for themselves.
It helps in children learning methods of baking and cooking on their own. They also help children explore new hobbies and interests. While exploring these creative subjects, your child might discover what they want to do in the future.
Some influencers also show creative ways to solve a problem. The problems might be fixing a computer bug or making your prom dress. It helps children develop more independent solutions to their problems. It can also help entertain the kids when they are feeling down or lonely.
Sense Of Community
Ultimately, what an influencer wants is a loyal fan base. When doing so, an influencer creates a community of people who have the same hobbies or interests. Whether it be music, gaming or makeup, this community can uplift and help each other.
All humans desire a sense of belonging. And the community created by an influencer can help children feel a sense of belonging. Whether it be an art group or a love for cooking, this sense of community built around an influencer can be warm and friendly.
The community built can also help bring each other up. So a community built around an influencer who cooks can share recipes for cooking. A community built around a gamer can team up to play team-based video games together. It can act as a positive impact on kids as they will be able to make new friends with similar interests.
Should you let your kids be Social Media Influencers?
So you can see that the impact of social media influencers on children can be positive or negative. You have to make sure that the social media influencers that your children follow are creating a positive impact in the community.
Also, many of the social media influencers are kids. By watching and following them, your kids might also be social media influencers. So should you let your kids be social media influencers?
Well, it completely depends upon your kids’ dreams, behavior, and goals. If they want to be an influencer to inspire other people to do good in society and make a positive impact on other people and children, then you should encourage them to be one.
However, if they have ill intentions and just want to be an influencer to be famous, then you should discourage them to be one.