Protecting Kid Influencers: Digital Risks To Anticipate And Prevent

Protecting Kid Influencers_ Digital Risks To Anticipate And Prevent

What started as adorable baby pictures shared amongst friends has blossomed into thriving business ventures, with kid influencers parents cashing in on social media accounts that feature their little ones.

Thanks to Covid, there’s been a boom in home-based entrepreneurs, and many parents are seizing the opportunity to build their children’s social media followings and rake in crazy amounts.

Singaporeans coined the term ‘kid influencers’ to describe kids whose massive social media followings can bring in big bucks from advertisers.

Example #1

Take Matthew Deane, a well-known Australian entertainer living in Thailand. At 43, he’s a singer, actor, and Thai boxing MC with a combined Instagram following of 6.2 million, shared with his wife and two kids.

Kid influencers - Matthew Deane

Source: Instagram

For the Deanes, social media isn’t just for fun; it’s a serious income source with plenty of product partnerships.

Example #2

Check out one of the latest reels from Ember Yong on her vibrant Instagram channel, @leialauren.

Kid influencers - @leialauren

Source: Instagram

Known far and wide via HypeAuditor as Singapore’s top toys and kids influencers, she’s got about 288,000 followers eagerly tuning in. Her channel is a delightful scrapbook of the twins’ adventures, their little brother Luke’s escapades, and the family’s daily life at home and on the move.

Her posts rake in around 1,000 “likes” — not too shabby. Her adorable munchkins help promote everything under the sun: cars, tuition centres, trendy outfits, and the latest toys. And hey, are you wondering about the price tag for a sponsored post? HypeAuditor’s pricing tool pegs it between $1,100 and $1,500. Talk about influence!

But what happens when these kid influencers grow up and decide they want control over their images or social media accounts? This emerging trend is stirring up a storm of legal questions, from who owns the social media accounts to issues around privacy, anti-bullying, and child labour laws.

We’ll dive into some of these pressing issues below:

Privacy Measures

Kid Influencers Privacy Measures

Imagine a teenager scrolling through their old photos on Instagram, only to find out their parents had been making money off their adorable baby pics.

It’s a shocker, and if the young person isn’t happy about being the unknowing star of a monetized social media campaign, they might have a case to claim their privacy has been invaded.

That’s where the Personal Data Protection Act of 2012 (PDPA) comes into play. These rules, outlined in the Privacy Act of 2012, establish what can and can’t be done with someone’s personal information, including photos of children. Even those cute snapshots count as ‘personal information’ because they identify the child in them.

Personal Data Protection Act of 2012 (PDPA) of Kid Influencers

source

To fall under the PDPA, parents must qualify as ‘PDPA entities’ as noted in the Act. Let’s break it down.

Imagine the parents run a company raking in a cool $3 million or more yearly, or maybe they fit another part of the PDPA entities’ definition. In such cases, they must consider whether sharing and using those photos could clash with the PDPA.

So, how do you protect yourself and your child as a parent? First, familiarize yourself with the PDPA and understand what it entails.

Next, assess whether you meet the criteria of a ‘PDPA entity’; if so, carefully consider each PDPA concerning your use of photographs. It may seem tedious, but trust us when we say it’s worth it.

You might be wondering why all this fuss about sharing family photos online. Well, the truth is that personal information has become a hot commodity in today’s digital age. And as innocent as those cute baby pictures may seem, they still contain personal information that can potentially be misused.

Here’s what you should do

  • Minimize sharing of personal information when posting
  • Use aliases only instead of real names
  • Avoid geotagging photos or tagging locations in the post
  • Be cautious of what you share about your child’s personal life or routine

Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when protecting your family’s privacy. So before hitting that ‘post’ button, take a moment to consider if sharing that photo is truly necessary and if it complies with PDPA.

And don’t just think about yourself – consider how your child may feel about their personal information being shared online without their consent.

Compensation

Imagine your kid working their whole childhood, smiling for the camera, creating content, and not seeing a single penny when they turn 18. Luckily for them, new laws are stepping in to fix these issues. Your talented kids deserve fair pay for their gigs, plain and simple.

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Now, here’s the not-so-fun part: kid influencers are at a high risk of being exploited. Sometimes, sadly, the pressure comes from within the family itself. Picture this: moms and dads raking in the dollars while their young creators do all the heavy lifting—and not having to share the wealth legally.

Until recently, that was completely legit (In some places, it still is!).

However, let’s be frank: making your child work without proper compensation is not a great look. It’s time to shift our focus from profit to protection and ensure that these young stars are taken care of both financially and emotionally.

Secure Accounts

Secure Accounts of Kid Influencers

Let’s discuss keeping your budding kid influencers online world safe and sound. First, think of those passwords as the keys to a treasure chest. You must ensure they are strong and unique for every account and switch them up occasionally. A fresh password keeps the hackers at bay.

Now, let’s add a touch of wizardry with Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). It’s like adding an extra lock on the door. Enable 2FA for all social media and email accounts to give your child’s online presence that extra layer of security.

Lastly, let’s not forget to play detective occasionally with regular security audits. Keep an eye on those accounts to ensure nothing fishy happens, and update security settings as needed. Think of it as a digital spring cleaning.

Content Moderation for Parents of Kid Influencers

Content Moderation for Parents of Kid Influencers

As parents, it’s natural to worry about the kind of interactions your child has online, especially if they have a growing presence as kid influencers.

One important step you can take is to monitor the comments and messages your child receives closely. That might seem daunting, but various tools and settings can help you monitor things more efficiently.

For instance, platforms like Instagram and YouTube offer features that allow you to filter and moderate comments. Using these tools, you can shield your child from cyberbullying, harassment, and inappropriate content.

It’s also helpful to regularly engage in conversations with your child about their digital interactions. Ask them how they feel about the comments they receive and be ready to step in if something doesn’t seem right.

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Some parents have found it useful to schedule weekly check-ins where they review comments and messages together with their children. That should help you stay informed and reassure your child that they are not alone in navigating the complexities of the online world.

Additionally, setting up alerts for specific keywords can be incredibly useful. Platforms often allow you to create lists of offensive or harmful words; you will be notified when these appear in comments or messages. That can give you a heads-up to review and address issues promptly.

For example, if your child is on TikTok, the app’s Family Pairing feature lets you link your account with your child’s, enabling you to manage their privacy and safety settings directly.

Digital Education for Parents with Kid Influencers

Digital Education for Parents with Kid Influencers

It’s crucial to educate your children about the importance of online privacy. Kids influencers need to understand how to protect their personal information. Teach them to recognize scams, like phishing attempts, where fake emails or messages try to steal their data. Helping your child understand the dangers of interacting with strangers online is also essential. Simple practices like not sharing their location or personal details can keep them safe.

Training your child on responsible social media use is another critical area.

Encourage them to think twice before they post anything. Explain that even a seemingly harmless picture or comment can have long-term implications on their digital footprint. For example, today’s silly joke might not seem so funny years later. Let them know that what goes online often stays online.

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Using real-life examples can make your lessons more relatable. Share stories of other kid influencers who have faced challenges due to irresponsible online behaviour. Highlight positive role models who respect privacy and make good choices. This way, your child can see the practical benefits of being cautious and respectful online. Engaging in these conversations early and often will help nurture a responsible and mindful digital citizen.

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Controlled Online Presence

One key aspect to manage is their online presence. It helps to ensure that a responsible adult reviews every content your child posts. This way, you can ensure it is suitable for all audiences and doesn’t divulge too much personal information. For instance, before your child uploads a video, you could check to see if it reveals your home address or any other sensitive details.

Another vital step is to limit their public interactions online.

Allowing children to engage directly with the public, like via live streams or direct messaging, can expose them to various risks. Instead, supervise these interactions to keep them in a safe environment. For example, if your child insists on live streaming, make it a rule to have a trusted adult present.

Lastly, communication is key. Have open conversations with your child about the potential dangers and the importance of online safety. Make them aware that while being kid influencers are fun and exciting, it also comes with responsibilities. Remind them of the value of privacy and why some information isn’t for public consumption. By taking these steps, you can help ensure your child’s online experience remains positive and secure.

Addressing Kid Influencers: Points for Parents

With kid influencers marketing being such a lucrative industry, it’s easy to see why families are drawn into the world of child influencing. After all, who wouldn’t be tempted by the prospect of making millions just by documenting your family’s life and your child’s growth? Sounds like a dream, right?

However, the reality is that some children become public figures from the day they are born, with their entire lives laid out for thousands, sometimes millions, to see.

Let’s talk about consent. An infant obviously cannot consent to the use of their likeness and experiences for monetary gain. But what about older kids? While some children might genuinely enjoy being in the spotlight, they are not equipped to make an informed decision about whether or not they should be.

In Singapore, the legal age of autonomy is 18. Until then, kids aren’t considered mature enough to make adult decisions, like voting or healthcare choices. Parents usually have the final say on what’s shared about their children’s lives.

Many successful kid influencer accounts feature daily or weekly vlogs, capturing almost every aspect of family life. That can translate to daily work for the child to meet content production schedules. Despite the amount of work involved, most countries do not have any regulations to protect kid influencers from long hours.

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Parents must weigh the potential benefits against the risks, ensuring their children have the support and protection they need to thrive online and offline.

Lasting Impact

As parents of kid influencers, it’s natural to have mixed feelings. Child influencing is a relatively new concept, having emerged in the early 2010s with platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Predicting the long-term effects of this public sharing on your child’s development is challenging.

The first kid influencers are now just entering adulthood, and while some have shared their experiences, comprehensive data on the overall impact remains scarce. Experts, however, suggest that in some cases, child influencing can cause serious harm.

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Growing up is already challenging and can become even more complicated when a child is thrust into the public eye. Imagine your child spending their formative years, complete with highs and lows, in front of thousands, if not millions, of strangers online. Early fame brings its own set of challenges.

For instance, the pressure to be a role model at such a young age can be overwhelming. The relentless nature of social media doesn’t soften the blow either, and these factors combined can adversely affect your child’s mental health.

Stories from early kid influencers are beginning to surface. Some describe their experiences positively, citing unique opportunities and confidence gained. However, there are also accounts of struggles with anxiety, depression, and identity issues.

Picture a child trying to navigate school, friendships, and family life while also managing an online persona. As parents, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and considerate of the lasting impacts that this new digital frontier may have on your child’s future.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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