My child is an influencer: ‘As soon as children recognize my daughter, they push themselves in without being asked’

A few years ago, my daughters still used the convex side of a spoon as a ‘vlogging camera’. Meanwhile, the iPad is full of videos in which they present our house and have entire conversations with their imaginary followers. Those videos are not posted anywhere. The fact that they never get the 20,000 followers – which they say they would like to have – we will leave behind.

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Also Senna Bellod (13) used to play ‘vlogger’, but now has 260,000 followers on Instagram, 168,000 on her YouTube channel and 139,000 on TikTok. Her mother Sandra says: “For her ninth birthday I gave her a vlogging camera. It wasn’t until months later that she made her first vlog on vacation. Her older sister Mayte opened a YouTube channel, edited the vlog and submitted it to a talent show that YouTuber Kalvijn organized: From nothing to clicks. The winner was guided by him for a year. Senna won and from that moment on it went fast. She quickly gained many followers through the collaboration with Kalvijn. That didn’t deter me, I just liked it. ”

Spam

Senna became known pretty quickly. That’s something Emily Orie (11) would like to. Her mother Wendy says: “On YouTube she was well on the way with her sweets videos. She was even allowed to make a movie for a well-known candy store. Emily enjoyed it and her group of followers grew. But when I noticed she was being stalked and spammed, I intervened quite rigorously. A child her age shouldn’t have to deal with nasty reactions to her appearance and sexist comments. I immediately deleted her entire account. Of course I had something to explain to my daughter that day, but eventually she understood my action. Enthusiastically she has started again. And now the opportunity to respond is disabled. ”

Filter

Meral (11) also received a vlogging camera when she turned nine. After a year it was still in the closet. Her mother Ellen: “When I asked her why she wasn’t using it, she answered that she was waiting for a nice destination. Because of all the videos she saw from popular vloggers, she had the idea that it only became interesting to turn that thing on when she was in a Balenciaga outfit in Dubai. She had to be helped out of her dream, because those vlogs really do not reflect true life. Those girls go wild with their camera for a week when they are in Miami or New York with their parents and then post images of it for two months.

Merel saw the world through a filter and thought that her life was not exciting enough for her potential followers. Her perception of coolness was: a beautiful head and many likes. I recently showed her which app celebrities use to put a six-pack over their belly photo. Those photos are not that realistic. Longer legs, tighter buttocks, luscious hair; everything can be customized. She was impressed by that. ”

Dancing in front of the traffic light

According to Ellen, there are different ways of dealing with social media. “Passively staring at vlogs on YouTube or Stories on Instagram really gives me the jitters. If Meral is on TikTok, at least she’s doing something. Those dances always go on, even without music and without a camera. ” And she is certainly not alone in this. In the supermarket, in front of the traffic light, in the swimming pool, on the schoolyard: you can see children making dance moves everywhere. Without embarrassment, relaxed and enthusiastic. Ultimately with the aim of posting a dance and collecting likes again, that is.

Ellen: “I want to show my daughter that you can use social media to do more than give an unrealistic picture of your life. Business wise it can be very useful. Meral has recently launched its own jewelery line, Jewelery Vibes. She sells handmade jewelry via Instagram and has collected more than 12,000 followers in no time. It also gives her nice contacts with other girls in the same business. ”

Critical look

Lisette watches like a lioness over the joint Instagram account of her three children Alandra and Roald (both 11) and Thor (6). In the storyline she shares what they are doing that day, the feed is full of photos from modeling assignments and shoots. “They now have 1800 followers, the list of blocked people is at least three times as long. I scrutinize every follow request. If I don’t see a reason why someone should follow my kids, it’s not going to happen either. The gentleman from the new pedo party? Yeah bye! I immediately block them. ”

Her critical look at the list of followers does not prevent negative reactions from the photos, because the children have an open account. “I delete racist and sexist comments every day and the kids should never be alone on Instagram. They also know why, because just because they can’t see the comments doesn’t mean they can’t learn from them.

Incidentally, they also get closer to sometimes negative reactions when they appear somewhere with their photo or are recognized from a commercial on TV. Alandra recently said that she had been bullied by some children at school. That is no reason for her to stop. She said, ‘No one is going to tell me what to do. And why do people laugh when I appear on TV or part of a picture of an assignment? I don’t smile when someone shares a photo of a hockey game. “”

Appointments

Her children regularly do modeling assignments. “They don’t have to, so I discuss everything with the children. But if they say yes to something, I want them to stick to the agreement. Even if they feel more like playing with Lego or building a hut at the time of the shoot. I think it is important that they think about agreements they make. Not only with regard to shoots, by the way.

I sometimes compare it to a play date with a boyfriend. If it suddenly no longer makes sense, they also find it annoying. They also see the vlogs and photos of influencers who have already made it all. When they look at a holiday vlog again with wide eyes, I explain in great detail that such a trip has little to do with a holiday. Before you get there, you have already had to complete a thousand assignments. ”

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Family business

Babysitting, baking pancakes, screaming with laughter with her brother and sister, to shoots and events, hockey training, evenings with her friends: it all comes over in Senna’s vlogs.

Sandra: “It is a kind of family business with the youngest at the helm. We have a content meeting every Monday, and a video comes online every Wednesday. Mayte edit the material, the videos don’t go live until I’ve checked everything. When Senna comes by cursing again, I will talk to her about her use of language. And we also try to avoid showing where we live. Not always possible, judging by the eggs that were once thrown against our front door. We don’t notice that so many people look at our lives. But when Senna is at an event in front of an audience of 30,000 people, she feels pressure to perform.

Downside

Her popularity also has a downside. She is recognized more and more often and does not always feel comfortable with it. Senna becomes sad when the opposing team discovers who is in the field during a hockey match and such a group chants its name en masse.

She goes camping with my parents every summer. When the campsite buzzes that Senna is here, more and more children come to their place. During our own holiday I also got the feeling that we were being overtaken by reality. As soon as we are recognized, children intrude uninvited and people get involved in our private life. Then I get the feeling that we are being watched.

But her fame also brings beautiful moments. Senna does not realize how special it is for a child to have a picture with her. Sometimes girls stand next to her trembling with nerves. By doing something so simple, she can totally make up for someone’s day. Massive screaming does not make Senna happy, one on one she takes all the time. She doesn’t walk with her nose in the wind. Her fame will take her a long way in life. She prefers to start her own clothing company as soon as possible, because she is already tired of school. ”

Sidejob

With an eye to her son’s future Marc (11) Klara spends an average of two hours a day on social media and running the Instagram account Marc.Marquez.Model.

“He has been registered with several modeling agencies for eight years. Nowadays many assignments are placed by (clothing) brands themselves via Facebook and / or Instagram. That’s why I manage his account; I select and post the photos, respond to calls, write the posts and maintain contacts. In this way I try to build a portfolio for him. One student will later fill in subjects, the other takes a paper route, Marc could do modeling as a side job – if he still wants to.

The pond with child models is now chock-full. Nine times out of ten he is therefore not chosen. To avoid disappointment, I do not always tell him for which assignments I have registered him. I am also picky about that myself. For example, I turn down shoots for swimwear and underpants. He was recently cast for a figurative role in a children’s film, but it was shot over several days during school time. Then it will not take place, school is more important. And if he has to choose between a children’s party or a shoot, I don’t have to think about it and Marc will celebrate. It has to be fun of course. ”

Child labor

Children who make vlogs on behalf of commercial parties, appear in commercials or show clothing collections on their own social channels; it stirs up the discussion about child labor. The mothers in this story all put the money their children earn from assignments in their offspring’s savings or study account.

Sandra: “It is good that this discussion is there. Also to protect young children from overly fanatic parents. The moment you make a sponsored video, it is a form of child labor. If you are completely free in what you do, it falls under a hobby for me. I believe that the well-being of a child should come first and that a child should actually be able to indicate whether it likes a collaboration. But from what age is a child able to say something sensible about it?

Senna does not just enter into a collaboration. If she has to promote a product, it has to suit her. Otherwise we can’t make a nice video of it. We earn a nice pocket money from it, but we don’t have to live on it. That is really only for a few people, you know. ”

Well, your offspring will only barely reach that happy few to hear. Maybe from now on I should leave the cutlery drawer closed and still invest in a vlogging camera. Can they influence nicely together and collect money for their studies? Classic win-win, right?

This article is in Kek Mama 16-2020.

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