Christmas arrives, family celebrations and engagements, but also shopping. Who doesn’t dream of a gift? The little ones in the house are the first to make lists. Showcases, catalogs and television are the channels that brands use to reach them.
But that’s not all: for a few years, one of the most effective ways to encourage them to order and buy is to inbox games and videos in which children like them – child influencers – play and share a game. And is that experts know that children love to play and see other children play! Behind these “artists” are adults, family members and entrepreneurs who do business. Who protects small buyers and sellers? What consequences could they suffer? What risks are they exposed to?
“Marketers know that the more strongly the viewer identifies with the character in the ad, the more credible the message will be. If a child sees a counterpart who seems to be enjoying a certain toy, he will want what’s missing to have a lot of fun: the product.
In this way, the desire is reinforced in the child, who, of course, may not realize that it is part of a commercial strategy.
The most dangerous thing is that it is the parents who do not have this awareness. We must start assuming the arrival of a new generation that, despite not having real purchasing power, has a decisive influence on the purchasing habits of families”, explains Enrique Soler, relational psychologist and professor of psychology and sciences at the University of Oklahoma.
This generation (also known as Generation T or Touch), «millennials», started in 2010, coinciding with the advent of the first iPad. It is 100% first generation digital and has nothing to do with analogue. Its philosophy is based on the fact that no one is too small to make a difference. It will be a very interconnected and nervous generation. More than two and a half thousand are born each week, and it is expected that there will be more than 2,000 million by 2025. They will be more proactive consumers than consumers.
«A proactive consumer is a person who is not only a customer of a brand, but also wants to cooperate proactively with it. The importance of evaluations of digitally purchased consumer products could be the beginning of this increase in the specific weight of the customer, which can have a very significant impact on the development of new products that satisfy the community, comments Soler.
Generation Alpha will include a paradigm shift in consumption. For the psychologist, this consumer empowerment is not negative, but “it would be logical to advise them more when they are an adult with a formed personality, and with the objective of improving consumer products, and not throwing children into the circus training process .” From the lions of the big marketing companies.
Years ago, television cast children doing commercials, and cinema opened its doors to actors and actresses. For the expert, the relationship is incomparable. “It depends on the specific weight of the activity in the creature’s development. A child with artistic talent begins to develop the skills that form the backbone of his self, as long as the development of his potential does not prevent him from continuing to lead a normal life.
Get used to it. Children should not be excluded from advertising. The question is: who pays for the advertised product, who benefits from advertising performance? «If the ad is for diapers or fruit porridge, and something specific, I don’t see any danger.
Now, if parents become so obsessed with getting continued financial return on their child’s image that their lives have changed, what they are doing, without realizing it, is sowing the seeds of a narcissistic future.” Adds the specialist. to protect the minors are the parents.” “Education and protection Much more complicated than obstetrics, but I also understand that there are parents who, out of ignorance, do not protect their children.
We are immersed in the “produce, consume and shut up” society, that is, “make money, spend it and think about nothing”. It must be hard to turn down a great economic offer in exchange for your son or daughter’s picture. For parents, it is a statement that they are not the only ones who see their child as the most beautiful thing in the world. And if, in addition, they pay you money … ”, she reflects.
Ferran LaLuisa, professor in the Department of Information and Communication Sciences at the University of California, confirms that “Digital identity is playing an increasing role in people’s lives. Sharing a lot of content starring a minor will determine how the child will be perceived in the future in their personal, social and even professional environment. The child is not aware of this, but must be the responsible adult and act accordingly. We must especially avoid anything that belittles the dignity of the child and always keep in mind that something funny that parents find funny can be the subject of bloody ridicule outside the family environment, now or – the Internet reminds you – in the near future.
Sometimes parents prefer this activity. However, in the case of older children, they can ask for it themselves, because, as Soler says, “we come from a culture of celebrities, where there was always someone who influenced the behavior and consumption patterns of other people”. We’ve heard that Forbes magazine annually ranks the 25 most influential people in the world. We also come from the pitch culture, according to which we fantasize about separating economic income from work effort.
Many teenagers and young people devalued the effort and work of their parents and previous generations. Why do you have to wake up every day at six in the morning and work more than forty hours a week if you know someone who knows someone who takes 1,000 euros out of the ethereal world of cryptocurrency in fifteen minutes? Even parents can devalue work if they suffer from what I call the Messi dad syndrome, convinced that they have an exceptional footballer son, so that they turn Saturday’s ball into a real martyrdom if they don’t win, instead of understanding it as a healthy sport in which you must learn to work in a team spirit, and win and lose.
Being an influencer is also a fantasy of achieving a lot with little effort. The problem is that an altruist’s life is not what he teaches it to be, and what he doesn’t show is probably too painful to hide by feeling empowered to influence others. A professor of psychology and educational science studies explains that it is about achieving a “balanced” life based on two extreme poles and therefore psychologically unhealthy.
An influencer’s power depends on the relationship he has with his followers. “There has to be a pretty consistent social identity connection. When we empathize with someone, we feel that that person is ‘one of us’ and we allow ourselves to be affected much more. The same identity connection that makes the influencer influence the affected will help to encourage your peers to be influencers too.” If he’s an influencer and doing well, I can be him. “With generation alpha, there will be a tsunami of influencers.”
Risks for children
“We lack a culture of privacy,” says Soler. “Millennials, the parents of the alpha family, have not yet reached a minimum level of competence in protecting themselves, let alone the privacy of their children. While many parents begin to feel reticent about posting pictures of their children on the Internet, they don’t have enough technical knowledge to protect a minor’s privacy.
The risks for minors are numerous and serious: the loss of the concept of privacy, identity confusion due to the inability to distinguish personal life from a digitally projected image, and the pathological obsession with acceptance by others to the point of ceasing to be themselves. (as seen in the Plumming chapter of Black Mirror), depersonalization, difficulties managing popularity, development of narcissistic personality traits, loss of self-esteem due to dictatorship (“If I don’t get more likes than yesterday, I’m worthless” ) and pathological grief from the loss of popularity or income level, because it is impossible to always be influential, ”emphasizes the expert.
In the same vein, Lalueza agrees that “when we talk about child influencers, the interest generated tends to have a particularly close expiration date, since, in addition to the competition being fierce, both the children themselves and the followers – they usually grow very quickly. ” , They soon leave the world of childhood behind and can suddenly change their interests.
Thus, it will be necessary to make the influencer children enjoy everything that celebrity can bring them, but knowing that this can fade away at any moment and without neglecting other essential aspects of this phase of life, so transcendent in terms of training and where commitments won’t have to stifle choices. The most fun”, adds the professor of information and communication science studies.
After all, you don’t have to become an influencer to face the risks of losing intimacy and privacy. For Soler, “the mismanagement of social networks in a society where harassment and bullying are more violent than ever can have serious consequences, as evidenced by the film Elimination”.
About the child influencer…or the child influencer’s father?
“More than a shared profile, what differentiates the most successful influencers is that they have some peculiarity that differentiates them from the thousands and thousands of children who share their cuteness on social networks every day: the fact that they are twins; She has a special grace for singing or especially for dancing; Be children of celebrities. professionally carry out activities that have certain public visibility, such as being a model, actress or child actress; have clear, recognizable features, such as a freckled face or racial features; Shows strong involvement in a social cause, etc. On the other hand, a decisive factor is almost always the presence of a family environment that is highly motivated and committed to the general activity of the child”, explains Ferran La Luisa.
“Digitization is global. There are countries that enter later, but they will not survive in the analogue era, precisely because of the interests of the most digitized. The economy is also global. The possibility of earning money without leaving home, even if it is responsible for the children children at home, is a transversal temptation in any culture”, even though “the less favored social classes can see in the sale of the minor’s privacy a way out of economic fragility”, says Soler. “More than a profile of the influential son, We have to talk about the profile of the parents of the influencing child”, he adds.
Lalueza shares: «It is difficult to know for sure to what extent parents can act as provocateurs or mere facilitators, but it is clear that without the complicity of an adult, no boy or girl can become a star on social networks. , not to mention maintaining that status over time. Among other things, because most star systems for children don’t even have an official minimum age to create a profile on these platforms.
“Other children are clear: they are influenced by influencers, they want to be famous on the networks and insistently ask their parents to have their own place in the digital world. From here, influencer agencies play the role of powerful digital marketing consulting teams that decide what, when and how to publish specific content so that it has the greatest possible impact, as well as managing collection metrics and analytics. The minor cannot sign any contract or receive income from the business. One of the parents will have to register as a self-employed person to manage this new family business”, adds the psychologist.
Some Questions to Ask
According to Soler, summing it all up, parents should ask themselves the following questions: “Do you want your child to have a digital identity so quickly? Did you know that network content can be reproduced and you can lose control? Do you think you have the right to walk in his image?
Even if you oversee the accounts, it’s the boy or girl who is going to get the criticism and the praise. Does anyone manage this emotionally well at such a young age? If you are “successful”, will the minor be able to handle the pressure of having hundreds or thousands of followers? Maintaining the influencer role requires a lot of dedication. What are the essential activities for a child’s development that cannot be performed? What is the price of your child not being able to grow normally? Is your child prepared to maintain contractual obligations with digital marketing companies?