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Impact of social media influencers on children

by Vijay Garg
0 comment 3 minutes read

It is important to make children aware of the impact of influencers on their lives as they can easily get carried away.
A recent survey found that overall screen usage among teens increased by 17% from 2019 to 2021. Not only this, in terms of daily screen usage, it was found that for the children in the age group of 8-12 years, the average usage increased to almost five hours from four hours, and for teens in the age group 13 – 18 years, the average increased to almost eight hours from seven hours. What does this imply?? In the words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, “The children of today will make the India of tomorrow. The way we bring them up determines the future of the country.”
However, the question remains are the parents, teachers, peers and all those responsible towards the well-being and development of the so-called Generation Alpha (Gen alpha) determined to groom them for the future? Are they all a helping hand in making them realise their potential by teaching them values with their life examples, providing them with an environment that is safe to live in and above all giving their precious time to listen to them? The answer to all such questions won’t be a cent per cent yes but rather a majority no.
Today, in this so-called technologically advanced, fast-moving world, where everyone is too engrossed in work and needs to be relieved from peer pressures, the best shortcut is media consumption on screens which is gradually turning out to be an addiction. Be it a five-year-old or a ninety-year-old, everyone needs a smartphone without realising its repercussions.
In simple terms, social media influencers refer to users on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry through their skills such as vloggers, bloggers, YouTubers, Podcasters or unboxes, thereby having access to the large audience especially children for they tend to spend maximum time watching social media. The impact of such influencers on the lives of the young audience can be either positive or negative and is a matter of great concern. There is no doubt that the influencers have the best communication skills and engagement with their audience. Children often tend to get influenced by these influencers as they offer various online content containing humour, excitement, games and motivation so frequently that they can relate to it without realising that their precious time is being wasted by watching content that is not so relevant. Some influencers give the children the resources and inspiration to learn about their interests and explore them.
They use their social media platform to spread social awareness. However, at times these influencers end up promoting unrealistic standards. They present a clean and humorous version of their lives which results in a sense of comparison thereby leading to a negative impact on the lives of the children, resulting in anxiety, low self-esteem, depression and in the worst case scenario may even lead to suicidal attempts. At times, food and beverage companies often turn to such media influencers to promote their product through sponsored posts so that when these posts are reflected, they get fixed into a child’s brain as authentic, thereby promoting unhealthy food such as junk food, alcohol, etc.
What matters is how children critically think and respond to the contents viewed by them and that is where the role of the parents, teachers and peers come into play. It is important to make children aware of the positive and negative impact of social media influencers on their daily lives. Having regular and healthy conversations to find out what the child likes to watch on social media can be a good approach. In case the child wants to engage in social media parents need to be supportive at every level which will gradually avoid isolating the child and open the lines of communication about social media presence.

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