Drew Barrymore, Macaulay Culkin – just a couple of the names that anyone who was born before social media might associate with the idea of a child star. However, today those young faces that we see achieving fame at an early age tend to come not from the silver screen but from a phone screen. Instagram – and other social platforms – have been responsible for levels of fame enjoyed by some children that are impressive, especially for the under 10s, and which have given rise to the term “kidfluencer.”
Who are the kidfluencers?
You don’t have to look that far on Instagram to find the kidfluencers. They are basically young instagrammers with hundreds of thousands – sometimes millions – of followers and who, as a result, have become small captains of industry with their own books and toy lines. Kidfluencers come in a range of different types, from those who have been made famous via their parents sharing well captured images of relatively ordinary lives to the likes of Ryan ToysReview who is a seven year old making double figure millions for testing toys on YouTube. The stories that many of these kidfluencers have are based around the idea that their fame was accidental – parents simply wanting to record their lives for posterity or help other parents.
Attracting a new audience
Children’s TV has been suffering in previous years as the audience that traditionally committed to it moves across to social media. For many brands who have kidfluencers under their wing this has been a great development – children are more accessible through their devices, tend to spend more time on social media and provide a direct line to their parents’ wallets. There is room for all types of kidfluencers too, from teen chefs showing that healthy eating is childsplay to those who are a conduit for their adults’ parenting tips.
Kidfluencer vs child star
While there are plenty of people out there quick to criticise parents who create superstars from their children in this way kidfluencers do, arguably, have a healthier and more normal existence than traditional child stars did. For example, they don’t have hectic filming schedules and are often still living relatively normal lives at home with their families, going to school, playing sports and seeing their friends. There are few red carpets to walk or exposure to partying at an early age and the impact that this fame has on key relationships is much less. For the parents there are challenges, in particular creating boundaries between what is home and what is business. One of the features of social media that puts many people off when it comes to posting about their kids is the potential for stalking and other people to get just too involved in their lives. Aside from this the major threat is perhaps to the egos of the kids themselves – if you grow up with thousands of people interested in what you say and do then what happens when suddenly they’re not? Kidfluencers is a term that marketers have created but which has really gathered momentum when it comes to describing young instagram stars with extensive reach. They are very different from the child stars of old and perhaps have a lot more longevity too – is the evolution of a kidfluencer simply an influencer? We’ll soon find out.