Momfluencers of the world, listen up.
Bottling your kid's childhood into social media content for the sake of monetization, as a number of affected kids recently explained to Teen Vogue, will make them absolutely miserable. And when those kids grow up, they'll probably hate you.
As they likely should. The pervasive trend — "sharenting," "famfluencing," call it what you want — is like Child Acting 2.0, but with even fewer legal protections. Worst of all, it's accessible to pretty much every parent with a camera and the will to publish every inch of their children's lives on social media.
And no matter how "authentic" this content might appear, once the money starts rolling in, the reality of running this kind of business is that parents become employers, while their kids become legally unprotected, unconsenting employees, made to act out their childhoods instead of actually living them.
Now, affected kids are starting to speak out about the horrors of having to live this kind of life.
"That's not fair that I have to support everyone," one of these kids, who reportedly first went viral when she was a toddler and has lived a life on-camera ever since, told Teen Vogue, speaking under condition of anonymity. "I try not to be resentful but I kind of [am]."
"Nothing they do now is going to take back the years of work I had to put in," she said, adding that she's considering going no-contact with them when she turns 18.
And who can blame her? Being forced to financially support your family as a minor amounts to "a lot of pressure," the teen told the publication.
And it's not the only dark side to this kind of content creation. Scholars are consistently finding that social media isn't good for kids in the first place, and child vloggers told Teen Vogue that the content that their parents have published has resulted in harassment by predators, bullying by peers and even teachers, anxiety over their safety, and more.
That's not to mention the fact that these kids never even signed up for this and have practically no legal protections.
"I plead [with] you to be the voice of this generation of children because I know firsthand what it’s like to not have a choice in which a digital footprint you didn’t create follows you around for the rest of your life," Cam, a 24-year-old ex-content kid who doesn't go by her legal name out of concern for her safety, told legislators during a hearing last month.
The hearing was about a bill that would give kids the option to have their parent-published digital footprints removed from the internet entirely once they turn 18.
Living like this sounds very scary, and our heart goes out to these kids. No one should have to perform their own childhood, and intimate moments should remain as just that.
And if you don't believe us, believe them.
"To any parents that are considering starting a family vlog or monetizing your children's lives on the public internet, here is my advice: you shouldn't do it," another affected child, who also chose not to reveal her identity, recently wrote in a letter to a TikTok satirist named Caroline, who read the letter aloud to her 2.3 million followers on the platform.
"Any money you get will be greatly overshadowed by years of suffering," the letter continued, "your child will never be normal… I never consented to being online."
READ MORE: Influencer Parents and The Kids Who Had Their Childhood Made Into Content [Teen Vogue]