What is an “influencer”? And what’s it got to do with your tween?

pic of Morgan Rihn

By Morgan Rihn

Maybe you’ve heard of an “influencer” – the newest big thing in advertising. It’s all the rage right now.

It starts with an average person (or celebrity) who has an opinion. They build a following, and finally, brands jump on board and pay them either with cash or free product to promote the brand’s products.

There are influencers in beauty, fashion, fitness, gaming and more. It’s a marketing strategy that’s becoming widely successful. And you should know about it.

Where are influencers seen?

Instagram is the most popular platform for influencers. Just scroll through your ‘Explore Page’ on Instagram to find numerous influencers you might like. But influencers are on other social media platforms, too. YouTube is a  popular place, and so is Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.

Popular (adult) influencers

Influencers often are celebrities. This make sense. Its easier for them to get a large following. In general, more views = more business. Kylie Jenner is the highest paid celebrity influencer. She earns $1 million per sponsored Instagram post. Selena Gomez receives $800,000 per post and Christiano Ronaldo earns $750,000. Kim Kardashian West, Beyoncé, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and many more make millions from sponsored posts.

But many top influencers are not househould names. For exampe, here are a few of 2018’s top influencers:

Huda Kattan

  • Makeup artist
  • Beauty blogger
  • Founder of Huda Beauty
  • 24.3 million Instagram followers
  • 2.2 million YouTube subscribers

Cameron Dallas

  • Actor in “Expelled,” “The Outfield,” & “Chasing Cameron”
  • Well-known for his Instagram content
  • 20.7 million Instagram followers
  • 3.8 million Facebook followers

James Charles

  • Male spokesperson for beauty
  • Covergirl’s first male spokesmodel
  • 2.1 million Instagram followers
  • 15.9 million YouTube subscribers

Joanna Gaines

  • HGTV’s Fixer Upper host
  • Magnolia Homes, renovation business, owner with husband Chip
  • Instagram reflects her work and personal life
  • 4.8 million Instagram followers
Do influencers influence youth?

There’s no doubt celebrities and influencers are having an effect on America’s youth. A company called Mintel (link) has reported that one third of kids aged 6-17 consider their top role models to be social media stars, i.e. influencers. This outranks actors, athletes, musicians and even the President.

Also, for kids, YouTube is the second most common source of information about new entertainment and toys, behind only TV commercials. This is not really a surprise. The current generation of youngsters already represent buying power of over $44 billion (link) with an additional $600 billion of family-spending also influenced by this generation.

Is there a problem here?

Maybe. Many parents don’t know that the FCC regulates TV content for children. However, they don’t have a say over Internet content. For example, there have been long standing rules about how much time in each TV show can show commercials, whether a TV show can show a product (called “product placement”), and if there was any compensation for that product placement. The regulators and protectors of children have long had their eye on TV.

But that’s not the case with social media and Internet influencers. Regulators are only now beginning to ask: “Should there be a visible disclaimer if a social media personality is being paid to endorse a product? Should there be restrictions on how much ‘content’ is pure advertising? Should there be quality checks on content for effects on health and safety?”

But you’re probably saying: “But really, what’s the big deal? It’s just stuff my kid watches to entertain themselves? Is it really having any impact?”

“Yes” is the short answer. Though this is so new not many studies are out yet, one study did find that influencers can change what your child eats. (link)

And the Bloomberg news service recently had a panel discussion on how YouTube’s children-focused channels actually have a lot of paid advertising disguised as content.

Do you need to panic? We don’t yet think so. But it is a good idea to monitor closely what your child is consuming on social media. And to find out who they follow and why they follow them.

Be aware that your kid is marketed to just as heavily as every other target demographic. Companies want their business. Meanwhile, Internet regulations with regard to children are not nearly as sophisticated and ingrained as TV rules, so it’s a bit more “user beware” out there.

And don’t forget – they don’t call them “influencers” because they have NO effect on your kid – or the bottom line of the company…

Some other useful links:

https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/social-media-influencers-influential-2018/

https://influencermarketinghub.com/top-25-instagram-influencers/

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/31/kylie-jenner-makes-1-million-per-paid-instagram-post-hopper-hq-says.html

And check out our other blogs on…

Is Your Tween Spending Too Much Time On YouTube?

By Lily Whorl

So, you may know the expression “going down the rabbit hole”. It means going into the unknown and perhaps having unique or disorienting experiences. It comes from Lewis Caroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”.

If your kid hasn’t already done this several times with YouTube, they soon will.

For example, imagine checking on your child. You’ve presumed their off playing with their toys or maybe their father. And instead you find them watching another kid on YouTube play with his toys – and perhaps his father.

Meet Ryan Toys Review. A 7-yr-old YouTube sensation with 18 million subscribers and an estimated net worth of $22 million.

Many of my younger cousins and nephews, and even the children I nanny for, are glued to their iPad or phone. Out of curiosity, I tend to peak at what they’re doing. I’d say about nine times out of ten they are viewing YouTube videos. Though I can’t lie and say I don’t enjoy watching YouTube videos also, I do find it mind blowing the amount of YouTube and screen time these kids will spend in a day.

And I know Ryan and his parent’s mean no harm by their successful YouTube Channel, it does get you thinking. Why would a child enjoy watching someone ELSE play with toys instead of just playing with toys THEMSELVES? I don’t have the perfect answer to that. Maybe it takes less energy. Maybe it’s about discovery and they already know about all of their own toys. I’m not sure.

But I did do a little research. Did you know kids between 0 and 5 only spend 50 minutes online but kids from 8 to 12 spend six hours a day? And it goes up to 9 hours a day for teenagers? (This comes from the website Common Sense Media .)  Sure, this can be the time you get your household chores done, but in the end, are you allowing a YouTube obsession to get started in your kid? 

And does it get better with age? Here’s a graph that shows over 25% of Americans visit YouTube several times a day. That’s a quarter of us!

Frequency of YouTube use in the United States

So, what do you want to do about it?

This is completely up to you. But I think the first step is NOT deleting the app or banning the computer.  I hope instead you consider simply limiting screen time. Plus there are parental controls in most of these apps, including YouTube. One thing you can do, for example, is turn off or pause the search history. This will stop new videos from magically appearing once the current video is done. That blocks the rabbit hole. Or makes it less inviting.

 I also think it’s important to sit down with your child and actually observe what they’re watching on YouTube. Many times it will be fine, though you may want to look out for videos that are essentially commercials. We all know that kids are a prime target audience for marketers and there are far less restrictions about what they can do on YouTube than they can put on TV, for example.

You may also want to subscribe for your child some educational channels. No harm in that, right?

And finally, why not sit and talk with your child about what they find so fascinating about their favorite YouTube videos? Maybe there’s a chance you could duplicate that intrigue in some real world activity? 

And wouldn’t that be cool. Instead of art imitating life, you could figure out to get life to imitate art. YouTube art that is.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to run now. Those kitten videos aren’t going to watch themselves!

Check out our blogs posts on Cyberbullying or how today’s social media contributes to FOMO.

Some Helpful Links:

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/for-parents/articles/2018-04-30/managing-your-teens-screen-time

https://www.verywellfamily.com/strategies-limit-your-teens-screen-time-2608915

https://www.statista.com/statistics/256896/frequency-with-which-us-internet-users-visit-youtube/