How do you feel about Instagram famous children?
Last week, I noticed an unusually “large” number of followers on my Instagram. On average I get two followers per day. On that particular day, however, I gained close to 50 followers. No clue as to how and why it happened. At first I didn’t think much of it and followed a few accounts back. However, I soon realized that 99% of the new followers were Insta-famous children, their accounts “managed by their parent”. Some as young as four with over 100k followers. This went on for several days and the more I looked into this, the more disturbing it became.
There are so many parents out there who want their children to be Instagram famous. They post thousands of photos of their children, most of which are photo shopped. Please don’t photoshop your naturally beautiful child!
Call me old-fashioned, but kids this young shouldn’t have their own Instagram accounts.
These parents seem to be oblivious or choose to ignore the frightening fact that a lot of social media love comes from creeps. When your child has tens of thousands of followers, you have to ask yourself whether all these people have good intentions.
As I scrolled through some of these accounts, I noticed the same followers over and over again. Most of their mega fans were middle-aged men. Some left very disturbing comments.
How creepy is this? But the worst part is the parent’s reply : “much appreciated”. No one should call a child ‘very sexy’ and no parent should appreciate it. Keep in mind this is the account of a five or six-year-old girl.
These parents are literally wooing and inviting the worst of humanity: child pedophiles.
The same people wouldn’t let their child walk down the street alone, yet it’s o.k. to expose them to millions of strangers on social media.
I spoke to two police officers who said they find these images along with child pornography. Pedophiles use places like Instagram to ‘collect’ photos and to sell or trade photos of children. Sometimes, these predators manipulate and photoshop so that the head of the child is pasted onto another child’s naked body. An Australian study found roughly half of images shared on pedophile sites were taken from social media sites.
What about privacy? It’s crazy how so many parents post photos of their kids on social sites with no regard to their child’s privacy now or in the future. It’s not fair to the child to exploit their images endlessly and no 14-year-old wants their 2-year-old naked photo lingering on the internet. These children will find out that much of their private lives have been online for years.
This, however, can go beyond future embarrassment. Two years ago, an 18-year-old woman sued her parents for posting more than 500 photos of her on Facebook without her consent. The images show her in diapers, her underwear, on the potty, and even naked. I’m sure there’ll be more similar legal proceedings in the future.
Let’s be real, the toddler or small child could care less about the likes and follows. So what is the upside of being Instagram-famous? Is it all about the parent’s ego? Who benefits from the likes and follows? For sure not the child.
Parents should carefully consider the long-term implications for their child of having a highly visible digital footprint.
By trying to turn your child into an Instagram star, you are giving that child an online persona before it even has chance to develop his or her own personality. Parents have their own identity and destinies, our children have the right to decide theirs.