MOM-enomics with Booth Parker, CPA

When parents profit from using their children in their content, what happens next? Booth (who's thankful cell phones weren't around when she was young!) dissects various situations where influencers use their children in their content, from the probably harmless to the definitely hurtful. Using nuance and wisdom from her own experiences she crafts a framework for how to think about how you engage in kid content.

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  • (00:00) - Social Media and Kids
  • (02:00) - Dangerous of Posting About Your Children Publicly
  • (05:25) - When Money is Made From Content of the Child
  • (06:56) - What Does an Influencer Lifestyle Teach?
  • (08:54) - Balance and Extremes in Kid Content
  • (16:04) - Considerations While You Scroll
  • (18:57) - Engaging Consciously with Social Media
  • (19:46) - Some Final Thoughts

This podcast is produced by Rooster High Productions.

Creators & Guests

Booth Parker, CPA
Financial guru by day; domestic diva by night and sharing it all in between.

What is MOM-enomics with Booth Parker, CPA?

Real moms. Real mom financial issues. Real moms in business. Real stories. I am Booth Parker. A CPA, wife, and mom that loves all things home and family. In this podcast, I talk all things money for moms, families, and small business. From tips to ideas to info you just need to know, I break it down so moms can apply it to their own families and businesses!

S2E15 Social Media and Kids

​ [00:00:00] Today on the podcast we are going to talk about kids and social media. So I know this can be a little bit of a controversial area, however, I'm not actually going to talk about the whole what age your kids should get a phone or what age you should allow them to start getting on social media. So I was recently watching a video from, it's actually a financial kind of expert person I follow, and I was watching her video and this woman doesn't have children, but she was doing a piece on.

Influencers and them profiting, making their living off of [00:01:00] using their children and their children's likeness in their content, and it really gave me a lot to think about because I immediately kind of thought about when my son was toddler age, a friend of mine and I, we decided we would start making some kids' clothes and we formed a little business and we sold kids' clothes and I'd put my cute little toddler son in those outfits and snap pictures of them, and I didn't think anything of it. And now we start thinking more and more about the dangers of putting your children on social media. And I don't necessarily mean your private Facebook page that your college friends follow you and, you know, friends from your hometown and all of that kind of thing.

That, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about people who have open pages and they post a lot about their children and their children's lives.[00:02:00]

Dangerous of Posting About Your Children Publicly

So first is it actually endangering the child to put their likeness on social media regularly where they are recognized, and then also constantly be posting about where you are and things like that. I did have a mom that I follow on Instagram. She has a pretty big following, I would say she has at least a hundred thousand followers and I had started following her 'cause she posts, you know, some cute outfit ideas and home things and tips and stuff like that.

So just fun every day mom stuff. Well, she has a toddler and once he was kinda out of the baby age, she started posting more pictures of him. Us moms, we're real proud of our cute children and we want to show them off. And so she had a very emotional post, where she had allowed, and I may not have this exactly right, but I'm close, she had made this [00:03:00] very emotional post where, her husband's mother, her mother-in-law had taken the son to run errands for the day. They were having like a, grandmama and grandson kind of day, and they had gone to run some errands and maybe lunch and things like that. And the mother-in-law came home from this day. And was very taken aback by the number of people that just walked up to this two-year-old little boy, and knew his name and what he liked, and they were trying to talk to him all because they followed her on social media and had seen these posts.

And the mom made a very emotional post how she would not really be posting any more pictures of her child or places that the family would be going until after the fact. She was very, very worried for her child's safety in that because it had only been, I [00:04:00] wanna say, a couple months that she had actually been including him more on her social media and one day out they had countless people coming up recognizing the son, and he wasn't even with her, where you would think, okay, well that would make sense if they recognized him with her. But no, he was with the Mother-in-Law. So the fact that he was recognized by that many. Basically strangers out and about at Target and lunch and all of these places made this mom very concerned, and rightfully so. However, there are still plenty of, influencers. I guess you wanna call 'em, maybe a few bloggers, but it's more the influencer types that really post a lot about their children.

And so that is kind of where I want to go today with today's topic. Not, trying to cause controversy or anything, but just, it was something I hadn't really thought that much about, until I saw this one woman's post and then this other [00:05:00] video really made me think about it a lot more. So that's my intention here today is just something to think about a little more with children and social media, especially if you are looking to go into the blogger or even the influencer world or anything like that where you think you would use your children in your content.

So that is what I want to focus on today.

When Money is Made From Content of the Child

So there are some influencers out there, mom influencers that have hundreds of thousands, millions of followers, and they make a lot of money with their platforms. I have no problem with people making a lot of money. Good for you. Thumbs up. It makes you wonder if their content is really focused around their child or their child is, in a lot of the content, maybe 25 to 50% of it.

Is the mom actually paying the child? Is the child on the payroll? Is the mom putting that money that she's [00:06:00] generating from the child's content into a 529 plan? Like in, in my perspective, like that would be, a good thing to do with the money 'cause the child is basically creating that income. So I'm sure that there are some out there who are actually using those funds to fund college and all of those kind of things. But I'm sure there are also some out there that are spending everything they make, not really recognizing that it's their child's likeness that is generating the income for them.

Some of these influencer types, they share some more real pictures that we can relate to. It's not always perfect and this, that, and the other. But then there's also some that everything you see is just these polished over the top images and videos and just very unattainable kind of ideals.

What Does an Influencer Lifestyle Teach?

Our children learn their behavior from [00:07:00] the positive reinforcement we give them, right? So we teach them right and wrong, what's acceptable, this, that, and the other. So if a child is constantly getting that good positive reinforcement by basically being behind the camera and it's a phone these days, it's almost even worse because the phone goes everywhere. If the child's positive reinforcement is constantly coming from creating a facade in front of the phone, is that, is that actually healthy? And I've read, two recent books that made me really think about this.

One is Britney Spear's recent book, and the other one is Jeanette McCurdy's book _I'm Glad My Mom Died_ and I know that that, that title is a little over the top, but if you read the book, you would, you would understand. But both of those are just two examples to me, where children were pushed into an [00:08:00] environment of performing basically against their will. Not completely in Brittany's case, she was kind of into it at first. The, the other girl was, it was way more against her will. But these children that are pushed into these, performance roles as a child, but it's really the parent who wants it. And just like with Brittany and the Jeanette McCurdy was another example.

It ends up blowing up the child either finally rebels, breaks away, does whatever. And then we always hear stories of how the parents. Took all or most of the money, there's way more than just those two examples, especially going back to, kids that were stars when I was a kid. But those two are really fresh in my mind from those two books that I read.

Balance and Extremes in Kid Content

It is a pretty known thing that social media really causes a lot of comparison [00:09:00] issues, especially in women and teen girls. So if that is what they're being brought up doing, it's just constantly reinforcing the comparison. We've got to meet this ideal that social media is putting out there. There's a few other, influencers that kind of are coming to mind when I'm thinking of, of all of this. And truth be told, like the content, some of the content is actually good and beneficial for a lot of moms. And so where is the line drawn between, it's okay, it's healthy, it's fine. That might not be a healthy environment for that child anymore, and that influencer mom could be exploiting her child at this point, like there's two major extremes.

I've seen content that falls in both, but a lot of the content falls in. The gray area. So [00:10:00] that's kind of what I want to point out. And maybe sometimes it starts on the good and it somehow spirals out of control to the bad because the positive reinforcement and the dollars come from the content that people are engaging with.

So it, it's something to think about with the, the content you engage with. So one of the ones that to me is over the top was not probably good for this. These children was, there was a video I saw, these parents, they had young children like toddler to seven-ish. Children that definitely still believed in Santa Claus and all of these kind of things, and one of the children was, I guess, kind of acting up, but it didn't seem to be acting up in this particular video, so maybe it was a, a delayed thing, like, because you [00:11:00] acted up earlier. This is, this is happening. But they had someone, as the kids were, it was like supper time they had someone basically kind of break into their house, came through the front door that was dressed in a Grinch costume and this person came running in with this huge bag and ran to the Christmas tree and threw, was throwing all the presents in the bag and then ran out the door. Well, as you can imagine, these little kids freaked out. I mean, freaked out and the parents were dying laughing at 'em and just saying, "That's what you get for acting up. We told you, you know, the Grinch was gonna do this." But it was clearly staged and it had millions of views, and to me, that was doing something detrimental to the children, all [00:12:00] for views. So that was kind of like the extreme I'm talking about.

But let's flip to the other side. So there is one... it's the mom who creates really healthy recipes for toddlers. Great content. I know when my son was little, I'm sure I would've been all about it. I don't have a toddler anymore. I'm sure it's comes up in my feed because I search a lot of recipe type hashtags, and so the content started coming to me fairly regularly.

What's interesting is that she doesn't actually make videos of how she makes these recipes, and then maybe feeds a bite to her toddler and he smiles and is happy with it. But instead, all of the videos are basically, he has on like, a diaper, and he's just sitting there feeding himself the whole time.

Precious little kid, some of it's [00:13:00] really funny, he'll get it in his hair or whatever. I get all that. I mean, it is, it is cute. And so mom sat kind of have fun watching it, you know, and they're like, wow, that toddler's eating all of this healthy food. How does she do that? And so there, there's, there's good there, right?

There's, content for making these recipes and a child eating them and all of those kind of things. But at the same time, like all of the videos are kinda like that. And I think about this, this toddler when he's 12 and he's in middle school and there's all of these videos out of him just in a diaper shoving food in his face and in his hair and everything like, will that, will that be detrimental to him? I don't know. I'm not a psychiatrist. I don't have any kind of psychology background, but we hear of so many things and once it's out there, you can't take it back and kids can be mean. And so is that something that [00:14:00] child is going to have to overcome and deal with as he grows up?

Maybe so. I don't know. But it's something that I think about like is it best that that child is being exposed in that way without the ability to voice an opinion of whether or not he wants to be exposed in that way?

And then another one that comes to mind, and I've seen several that I've done this, and I truly think they start, they definitely started in the right place, I think.

And I think a lot of 'em are probably still wanting to be in the good place, but it's that kind of spiral out of control. You see dollar signs, you see approval, all of these acceptance things, and it's, it's once the moms who started pages to bring awareness to a disability or something that their child has.

There's a lot of other parents may be dealing with the same thing. They can learn a lot from each other. They can be support for each other. [00:15:00] So there can be a lot of good from it. But then you turn around and then, well, the followers have grown now from posting this awareness stuff, so now it's turned into more of a profit making platform than an awareness platform. So is it, is it still okay if this awareness platform has now turned into free trips to Maui if the mom posts the family at this particular resort. Like that's, that's kind of the gray area I'm talking about, because the child is not of an age where they can consent to this and it's the parent's job to make the best decision for their children.

Sometimes you get caught up in the moment or maybe you really need to pay off your student loans and you're like, oh, I can make some money at this. And your heart [00:16:00] truly is in the right place, but that's not always gonna be the case with, with everybody.

Considerations While You Scroll

So just think about this like the next time you are scrolling through your feed, and I'm not talking about your friends that just have private pages and they're sharing pictures or whatever, but the next time you're scrolling through your feed and there are truly influencer moms making a living off posting pictures of their children.

Truly kind of absorb the content and ask yourself, is this content that is detrimental to this child possibly long term, or is this content. Very helpful to other moms. The child wouldn't be embarrassed to have been a part of it. It's not negatively affecting the child, things like that, and really monitor, I guess what, which type you engage with. 'Cause there were plenty of people that thought that Grinch video was hilarious, you know, [00:17:00] from grandparents to parents, to college, kids that don't have children. There were plenty of people that thought it was funny and it's, things can be funny and in good, fun, fun, but, and maybe you could Google and find it.

And of course, there I am pushing you to watch it. And it, it helps them get more likes and views and all that other kind of stuff. But. The, the behavior of the children in that video was disturbing to me how distraught they were. They did not think this was a joke. Nobody ran back in, and hopefully they did when the camera was off and just said, just kidding.

Here are your Christmas presents back. But it is a lot to think about. Social media is kind of like the; I can't even remember, like the star searches I guess of, of my time as a child where, you know, there are a lot of kids who want to do things with singing and drama and all of that kind of stuff, and they, they go after it.

But there's also a lot of parents [00:18:00] that push it and the child doesn't want it. And I think pushing kids to... conform to what you want for your social media platform for you to make money on is a little bit of a gray area of whether or not it's, it's the right thing to do. So, I'm sure I've probably rubbed some people the the wrong way talking about this today, and it really isn't my intention, but as a mom of a 17-year-old and I see how different, kids are these days because of social media, I'm glad to have a son because I really see the comparison thing as an issue with the teen girls and as if moms just continue to push their children into social media. Not necessarily having a phone, but being a part of social media isn't really healthy.

Engaging Consciously with Social Media

I do a decent amount of stuff on social media, [00:19:00] but I try to truly limit the content I follow to be content that is really, really good for me as a person. Doesn't do the whole comparison thing. Of course stuff pops up based on what you search, and that's where I've seen a lot of these things that are kind of disturbing and they, they follow what this other financial expert was talking about.

Hers was really, really geared towards, the financial side of it. These people profiting off of their children kind of thing. But I took it more as the impact it has on the children and social media is just kind of the modern day version of some of these, almost like reality TV shows and stuff we saw as, as children ourselves.

Some Final Thoughts

So just think about this, when you're scrolling social media, I know that my friends and I joke that we sure are glad that those phones with a camera were not around when we were in college, because [00:20:00] once those images are captured and they're put out there for the whole world to see publicly, you can't get them back and you don't know what your child is going to be comfortable with having out there for their own confidence and self-esteem as they get older.

So just be mindful of what you support and being, being an advocate for what is best for the kids when it comes to them being used on social media.