Starting a very profitable business working as a manager of one’s own children, who have become baby influencers reaching more than two million followers on their YouTube channel, is something unimaginable for a baby boomer or a member of Generation X. Honestly, these boomers and Generation X members would never have thought about this opportunity, yet recently, the baby influencers phenomenon is becoming more and more prevalent.
Who are baby influencers?
The Fox Business Network published an article online in which the authors analyzed the potential of this phenomenon and reported some names and channels of the most popular baby influencers in the world.
In 2020, being a baby influencer meant, for the most part, to be a photogenic and videogenic child with often adult-like movements and a charisma and a fake malice that could almost make world-famous models turn pale.
However, most children are unaware that their parents, now often millennials, help form their children’s interests, talents, and hobbies and parents direct the spotlight onto their children. The danger, however, is always around the corner.
A web star life…is it sane?
These children and teenagers, ages zero to sixteen, become the protagonists of a personal show in which they pose for photography shoots in order to gain more likes on social media, they “manage” channels for product reviews and sometimes they even become protagonists in children's programs.
Before every photo or video is published, a lot of work is required to make it social media worthy. Even when these photos and videos are being used for educational or developmental purposes, it is important to fully understand the effects that this exposure has on the psychological growth of the children during this delicate phase of a human development.
Young children, even babies, are used ever more frequently as protagonists in videos and photos geared towards broad and impersonal audiences through the filters of a video camera or smartphone. They carry out sometimes trivial activities, such as playing with their drum, Christmas decorations or friends, specially programmed by their parents or those serving as a manager or a public relations promoter, to make it appear as if they were following a real script.
If, for most of us, exposing our children to the media pillory may seem really mad, but many parents, for the sake of a financial return, allow the use and publication of their children's audio/video material on different social media platforms.
Most of the videos are carefully designed to influence the feelings of Internet users and thus create engagement by increasing likes and followers.
More and more companies are aware of the enormous power of this activity, so they actively seek out baby influencers in order to use this visibility to promote their products.
For example, use Vito, a baby YouTuber. Let’s assume that each video of Vito can reach about 600,000 views per month; suppose that X company, a producer of children's clothing, decides to sponsor the videos recorded by Vito and proposes a contract that provides a fee of €400 gross per video of the products marketed by the company to his family. Assuming the platform quotes each view 0.50 cents gross and that the schedule of the publication includes uploading four videos every month. Vito’s family business will have an economic return of around €2800 gross and consequently an increase in followers, consequently starting an inevitable vicious circle.
Although these are current practices in the modern working world and indications for the future one too, "not all that glitters is gold". Behind every video there are hours of work, filming, photo shoots, mistakes, and takes that overbearingly interrupt the routine of a child and that, inevitably, reduce the time dedicated to recreational activities typical of each phase of growth.
News outlets are increasingly reporting similar phenomena such as baby models, baby artists and so on. As a consequence, more and more editorials and news reporters are raising adults’ awareness of what, from a niche phenomenon, has become a social trend.
What principles are we passing on? What principles will our children grow up with? What impact will all this have on their social relations? How does being a baby influencer affect one’s future? Experience teaches us that it is not uncommon to see young TV or movie stars develop psychological problems or experience serious trauma due to their years in the limelight. We are dealing with sensitive fields: family, education and recreation.
Only one thing is preventable. In 2017, Pwc completed research which had predicted that the market for digital advertising aimed at children would increase by 25%; an article by osservatori.it last year reported that 93% of toy companies invest in social network advertising because it is widely known that the entertainment of these new generations: the Alpha Generation (from 2010 onwards) and Generation Z, will no longer be watching cartoons on classic TV, but they would rather browse on digital kids platforms and select the video that interests them the most. Although this data needs to be updated in light of the covid pandemic, the trend is undeniable. Inside Marketing, in a February 2020 article , reported that what was predicted years ago is gradually coming true and how many companies, from the toy or the food market to big names like Disney, are analyzing and applying actual influencer marketing strategies by hiring baby and children influencers, who have a potential rating of millions and millions of people, for their commercials . The "plan" is very simple: to use children merely as propaganda vehicles for their parents, turning them into potential present and future buyers.
Considering that it will be almost impossible to stop this trend, what we must do is think of our children’s future and respond accordingly: are we ready to sacrifice our children before the altar of our adult ego by feeding the media meat grinder beast with our children’s innocence?