How to Protect Children Against Unsafe Online Influencers  

Protecting your child from bad influences used to be as simple as encouraging physical distance. 

Today’s online world, however, can be a hazardous place for our kids. 

When kids go online, they often enter a vast world of influencers and creators, including some who promote dangerous products or ideas. Their goal is to create emotional bonds with impressionable youth to sell everything from nicotine pouches to steroids to unproven health claims. 

And influencing has turned into big business. According to Goldman Sachs, the current online creator market is worth $250 billion and is projected to nearly double to $480 billion by 2027. 

The scary thing is that with massive growth has come very little regulation. MSNBC recently reported on the link between the influencer marketing industry exploding and a lack of regulation from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Are your kids’ online idols pushing dangerous products, ideas, and behaviors?

What Are Unscrupulous Influencers Selling Our Kids?

While many internet personalities produce silly, fun, or harmless content, many might encourage or sell dangerous products. Zyn nicotine pouch sales grew 62 percent between 2022 and 2023, primarily due to influencer hype.

Recent news stories about “Zynfluencers,” content creators who use and publicize Zyn pouches, have heightened concerns about what kids and teens are learning from their favorite accounts—away from the watchful eyes of their parents.

Social media influencers share much of their lives, showing followers their likes and dislikes, personality quirks, experiences, and more. An internet personality can start to feel like a real friend, especially to kids. However, influencers also need to make money; certain types of content can mean more followers and, therefore, more cash. Whatever attracts more eyeballs attracts more money, and some internet personalities may not be concerned with the ethical implications of their actions if it means more followers.

And in recent years, family vlogs (video blogs) and parenting influencers have raked in serious dollars by sharing their children’s lives online. Many child safety advocates and former “child influencers” have voiced their concerns about what information is posted to millions of followers without a child’s consent. Some states are even considering laws ensuring financial compensation and protections for these children.

Protect Your Kids with These Four Tips

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has rules that govern posting sponsored content, but these rules are not always followed. And what about influencers who are promoting dangerous products or ideas without the help of advertising money? They aren’t required to disclose anything about negative consequences. We hope these tips will help you talk with the kids in your life about what type of content they are consuming online.

  1. Ask children about their interests and influencers with an open mind. Get to know who and what they are engaging with. They will probably be excited to tell you!
  2. Select and review new content together. The best way to know what kids are watching is to watch it, too! You can also use review sites like Common Sense Media to understand what’s out there.
  3. Share regular updates on influencers. Ask your kids what their favorite influencers are up to! Bringing their interests into a shared conversation helps them know you are engaged, and they are safe to tell you what kind of media they consume.
  4. Replace fear with curiosity and empathy. Remember what it was like to be a kid and idolize the celebrities and artists of your era? Your kid is doing the same online. Please keep the discussion going as they grow.

Protect Your Child from Less-Than-Honest Influences

Hopefully these tips will help parents learn to be on the lookout as children navigate the influencer-shaped world online. 

If your child has been exposed to a content creator promoting dangerous or risky products and you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.