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The rise and consequences of 'sharenting' on social media

The logos of social media applications Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Messenger, Hyperlapse and Telegram are displayed on a cellphone screen.
The logos of social media applications Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Messenger, Hyperlapse and Telegram are displayed on a cellphone screen.

If you spend any time on social media, you’ve probably come across an influencer. That’s someone who leverages their popularity online for financial gain, through things like brand deals and advertisements.

But what happens when a parent makes their child an influencer, or incorporates them without their consent in paid social media posts? Some children can rake in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars annually. An annual Forbes analysis of the top 10 earners on YouTube consistently ranks kid-forward accounts among the highest paid.

“Sharenting” can take on manyforms. One form is family vlogging, where parents document theirfamilylife – often including videos and photos of their children – and share it on social media sites like YouTube and TikTok.Another formof sharentingis whena parent manages a social media accounton behalf of their childand uses the account’s popularity for financial gain. This practice is called “influencing.”

Most social media platforms – such as Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat – do not allow children under 13years oldto use their sites.

As sharenting faces a reckoning, how might children’s digital privacy rights evolve?

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Lauren Hamilton