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“We cannot normalize having 10-year-old children working as influencers”: the challenge of controlling minors when advertising | Beauty | S Fashion

some of the children influencers of the Alpha generation, born after 2010, have more millions of dollars in the bank than years of life. They have become world famous on platforms like TikTok because at their young age they talk, put on makeup and dance on social media as if they were the influencers that they have grown up imitating. As an example, a button: the latest trend they have starred in is that of Sephora Kids. This has filled the networks with videos where hundreds of 10-year-old girls appear who have swept the brand’s makeup products and then do beauty routines. skincare (skin care) with his followers.

This can be seen in the Garza Crew account, which has 4.9 million followers, on TikTok. The videos that her mother records show her as a 7-year-old American girl who has not even lost all her baby teeth, although she explains like a professional all her makeup routines and the products she buys. She also dares to tell, at her young age, what it means to her to be a influencer of the Alpha generation: “Obviously, we are obsessed with the skincare“We make videos showing how we always get ready, our favorite store is Sephora and we don’t like toys,” the youngest explains to the camera. The protagonist of these videos on the Garza Crew account claims that she has been buying makeup with her sister, who is the same age as her, since they were both six years old. All videos on the account are monetized.

Magazine Forbes published in September the annual classification of youtubers highest paid of the year in the world. Ryan Kaji stands out on the list, who at nine years old has gone viral by reviewing toys. In 2023 he had earnings of 35 million dollars thanks to his 36 million followers. His family has turned his online influence into a company called Ryan’s World, which sells toys, board games and clothing. He surpasses network queens like Chiara Ferragni and Monet McMichael.

The Spanish Cintia López Narváez, 36, has been a content creator for 12 years. She first started making fashion posts on a blog and then migrated to Instagram where she showed the outfits she wore to work. However, when her children were born, she decided to change her strategy and change her content: now her channel revolves around motherhood and children. “The truth is, with this type of content I’m doing much better, my community has grown a lot,” she explains. Her six-year-old son, Jorge, has starred in campaigns for brands along with her mother since before he could even remember that she had done them.

His mother assures that he does it voluntarily: “First I ask him if he wants to, and we always do it as if it were a game.” López has already lost count of all the brands he has worked with, but he remembers that everything from diapers to the nursery were collaborations.

By imitation, the son has learned from the mother and already records himself imitating what he has heard López say a thousand times: “Follow me, give me like and don’t forget to activate notifications.” López believes that soon Jorge will also have his own content creator account. He does not see any problem: “For them it is normal because they have been in contact with the networks all their lives, we had to learn it.”

According to the study published by GWI Generation Alpha: the real picture, The Alpha generation has influence and purchasing power beyond their years in the United States. “A third of young people between 12 and 15 years old have a bank or savings account that they can access,” says the study. In the text, the researchers conclude that these children also have more social awareness at an early age and that they will become consumers of big brands more quickly.

According to the National Institute of Statistics, by the age of 11, half of Spanish children already have a mobile phone. This proportion grows to 93.3% when the minors reach 15 years of age. Children have seen that it is possible to become millionaires just with a screen in their hand, and this has meant that fewer and fewer of them want to be doctors or lawyers when they grow up: they dream of being youtubers, influencers either streamers. This can be seen in an Adecco survey in which they asked almost 2,000 children between the ages of 4 and 16 what they wanted to be when they grew up.

It’s the result of a lot of viewing time. A Datareportal report from 2022 estimates the time that each user spends on average in Spain on social networks watching in two hours. reels, stories on TikTok and Instagram. “Without a doubt, the youngest are the ones who spend the most hours glued to the screens, which in some way end up educating the children,” says psychologist Silvia Álava, author of the book We want happy children. “The people that children follow on social networks often show unattainable realities with which they compare themselves: the body, luxuries and diet could be affected by overexposure to networks in an unhealthy way.”

The problem is relating happiness to that idealized physical image, because that only leads to frustration. Facebook research leaked in 2021 has shown that social networks influence the mood of young people. “More than 40% of Instagram users said they did not feel attractive while using the app. app”.

Lorena González, CEO and psychologist at Serena Psicología, a clinic that focuses on women’s well-being, sees how mothers come to her office every day worried about their children and social networks. “We have many examples of children who were famous at a very young age starring in films, and we have also been able to see how at that age they do not understand that the reinforcement that fame gives is not real and that having millions of followers is nothing definitive. Broken toy syndrome now extends to young people influencers who live for the likes of their publications,” says the expert. Her opinion on the new phenomenon is emphatic: “We cannot normalize having 10-year-old children working as influencers. “He should be penalized.”

The phenomenon comes from afar. The children of the Alpha generation, explain the experts consulted, have internalized what their mothers have taught them since they were in the womb. millennials, who have documented the lives of their children on their networks from the moment of birth, some even before. “Children learn what we teach them. We are their models. If parents normalize this overexposure to the networks, it is normal for them to do so, although we still do not know the consequences of this,” says González. Sheila Tabernero, 42, runs the Instagram account mother’s word, which has 58,300 followers and focuses on family leisure plans. She started in 2012, when she became pregnant with her first child, making a blog telling her experience with motherhood. Little by little she evolved, and when the second child arrived she began to talk not only about the pregnancy, as she focused more on issues of being mothers and family. “I entered this world of content creator and brands began to contact me and that’s when my whole family and I began to collaborate,” says Tabernero, who is represented by the influencer agency SP Talents.

Tabernero explains that since his three children were born they have always appeared on his networks. “For them it is normal.” As they have grown, especially with the eldest being 11 years old, I have tried to be more and more careful with their image,” he says. Although most of her videos are of family trips, where they are shown in very natural situations, she has the opinion of the children. “I always ask them before publishing if they agree with the content they are going to publish. In my house there are fights between my children for appearing in my videos and collaborating with brands. If it were up to my oldest son, Ares, he would already have his own YouTube channel a couple of years ago, but I still don’t want to,” he assures.

For the director of Capital Psychologists, María Padilla, this generation will bring with it a paradigm shift: “It is a generation that lives in a world dominated by digital technologies. “They are children who have never known a world without the internet, smartphones and tablets.”

Social media expert José Alvargonzález and director of Digitalvar uses the data to explain what is happening: “TikTok has experienced exponential growth in young users. Recent statistics indicate that a considerable percentage of its user base is made up of children under 16 years of age, spending on average a significant amount of time on the platform each day. This is why it has a cost: “It is crucial to consider the impact of social networks on child development. These platforms can encourage creativity, personal expression and communication skills in children, but, on the other hand, there are associated risks such as exposure to inappropriate content, self-esteem problems and pressure to maintain an idealized public image.”

In this context, the lack of labor regulation of content made on social networks by minors and the poor compliance with existing regulations means that these children can spend hours recording monetized videos: “If these same 10-year-old boys were waiters instead of influencers “They would be immediately sanctioned by the Ministry of Labor,” says the expert. According to a study carried out by the Spanish Society of Pediatrics “the use of the image of the minor in advertising that is conveyed through the Internet is inappropriate in two out of every three advertisements. Said misuse of the minor is usually objectified in the representation of the same in a strategically unjustifiable manner, and favoring non-positive values ​​or that favor situations of inequality.

The National Cybersecurity Institute points out that parents must also work to ensure that their children avoid personalized advertising on networks. They must organize the “ad configuration of the main social networks as well as use the options to report or denounce those advertisements that do not seem appropriate to us. Furthermore, it is very important that minors do not give personal data without the advice of a responsible adult, even if it seems like a simple unimportant giveaway”, something very common on Instagram and TikTok. On the other hand, they see it as essential to “limit screen use times, in order to reduce the number of hours in which they will find advertising, and therefore reducing the number of commercial content that they will consume.”

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