As the first generation of influencers grows up and starts having kids, an interesting dilemma presents itself: at what point do children have a right to their own privacy? When do we stop parent using them to grow their own social presence?
It's a nebulous line to draw because often being an influencer blurs the line between the sharing of one's personal life on social media, and mining the people around them for #content.
Kids who form a large part of their parents' social media presence do not have the protections that children working in other areas of the entertainment industry do, and the content they feature is in often a lot more personal and potentially harmful or embarrassing.
One teenager whose mother is an influencer has taken to Reddit to express their concerns.
Posting on the page AITA ("Am I The Asshole"), where anonymous writers ask the hivemind for advice, the teenager explained:
My mom is kinda famous on Instagram and blogging. She had a mommy blog all when I was growing up and of course me and my sister were always involved. It sucks because there's so much our there about us and it's what's gonna come up when I'm looking for a job, when I'm dating, when anyone looks up my name.
They went on to say that in order to try and stop the endless photos, they had to buy hoodies with slogans emblazoned across them.
I found a website that will print custom jackets, print all over the front and back and arms... And I ordered some hoodies that say a bunch of phrases all over them. 'No photos' 'no videos' 'i do not consent to be photographed' 'no means no' 'respect my privacy' 'no cameras' 'no profiting off my image'
It sounds silly but it looks pretty sick actually. I got one for me and one for my nine year old sister who's started to not always want photos.
They go on to explain that even despite this drastic measure, their mother refuses to accept their privacy, and manipulates them into retroactively consenting to their pictures being posted, or by holding the fact that her income in on the line over their head. Sometimes, she says she "thought it would be OK" because the kids are in the background, or their faces are blurred. The OP is having none of it:
I'm always like "no you didn't THINK. if you thought at all you'd remember what I said I want. No new pictures of me or mentions of me online. Remove all pictures that include me that you've ever posted. and delete any writing that mentions me".
I am just so fed up, and upset that my mom is mad at me for wearing my new hoodie everyday. She's mad I won't take it off for any event and thinks it's inappropriate to wear to certain things.
The tragic post shows how damaging it can be to have your image plastered all over social media at such a young age, and how oblivious parents can be to its impact.
Commenters were quick to side with the teenage poster, and offer suggestions, including asking the mother in question to use initials rather than full names for her kids, or putting an emoji over their faces. Others had slightly more contentious suggestions:
Maybe OP should consider starting their own blog detailing the difficulties, invasions of privacy and parental entitlement involved in growing up in the spotlight of a mommy blog...
People pointed out that similar behaviour under different cirrcumstances would automatically be criticised.
@post_hog i always wondered how someone could justify putting their kids whole childhood online when showing someon… https://t.co/cn9zUa5QsY
Some questioned the legitimacy of the post, which is pretty standard when it comes to Reddit threads. (We have no reason to believe it to be fake.)
@post_hog Regardless of the sentiment (which I get), that post is suspiciously well written. Either the teenager is… https://t.co/jziu7NB46R
— Dave Mclean 🏴🇪🇺 (@Dave Mclean 🏴🇪🇺)
Regardless of whether this specific example is real or not, the responses suggest the tide is turning on these issues, as we can see from the recent criticism of family vloggers such as the Ace Family and the Saccone-Jolys.
Is there ever a responsible and fair way to make your kids part of your influencer career? We have yet to see one.