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“Kidfluencing” and Protecting Our Children Online: The Urgent Need for Education and Accountability

March 4, 2024

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I’ve spent over a decade working to protect my clients’ privacy and give them control back after being subjected to sexual misconduct and harassment. 

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A deeply concerning trend has surfaced with the evolution of social media: the exploitation of children through “mom-run” accounts on social media platforms, particularly Instagram. These accounts, managed by parents and centered around their children’s activities, have raised significant concerns, highlighting the need for increased parental education and awareness and, on a macro level, legislative action.  

Often what starts innocently as a parent’s desire to catapult their child’s modeling or performance career, morphs into an exploitation of the child. Parents post implicitly provocative photos of nine year olds with the intention of gaining followers and the perks that come along with that, such as paid sponsorships, free merchandise, and subscribers. In the process, they obtain pedophile patrons and creepy voyeurs who fantasize together in forums about preteens they’ve seen online.

The New York Times’ recent investigation into these mom-run accounts revealed a troubling pattern where parents charge subscribers, often adult men, for exclusive content, chat sessions, and other extras featuring their children. Parents earn substantial monthly incomes by selling these subscriptions and some view social media as crucial for children’s future careers. However, in the NYT investigation, many of these mothers expressed concern about the lasting impact it could have on their children. 

This practice of turning children into “kidfluencers” places the children involved at physical and psychological risk and prompts crucial questions about the responsibilities of both parents and social media platforms in safeguarding our most vulnerable users. It is essential to recognize that parents, often navigating the complexities of the digital age, may not be fully aware of the potential risks associated with sharing their children’s content online.

While we cannot control the ever-evolving digital landscape, we do have autonomy over our choices as parents. It is imperative that we make well-informed decisions about our children’s internet presence, which calls for more tools and education. Parents should have the information and resources necessary to responsibly navigate the digital world, including awareness of the risks involved in sharing their children’s content online. I am a seasoned attorney with a background in sexual privacy law and prosecuting sex crimes and bring a wealth of knowledge to the digital safety arena. Dedicated to empowering parents, and protecting children, I offer cyber safety workshops and resources. Whether addressing PTA meetings or engaging with parent groups, I provide insights and practical strategies for navigating the online world with confidence.

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