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Social Media's Unexpected Impact on Children

In today’s world, people are being bombarded, even overloaded with information on a daily basis more than ever before. Only going back a few years, the differences are dramatic. The increased ability for anyone to post something instantly, across the planet, is a relatively new phenomenon. This can, in turn, be seen by millions of people.

This is especially true when it comes to celebrities, such as the Kardashians, Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan. Not that our own generation didn’t have people who made questionable decisions. It’s just that they weren’t able to share their exploits to millions of people within seconds of doing whatever it is that they did.

Businesses are well aware of the impact that social media can have on their sales. I have been working in marketing for over 20 years. A large part of that time has been to try and find key opinion leaders in the industry to use our products and either get them to include our products in articles that they write or to use them in their lectures. However, in the past few years, it has also involved getting them to share their experiences onto social media. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Take PhunkeeDuck, the company that makes hoverboards. In a recent article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, their company’s sales have been extremely strong. Matt Waxman, co-founder of the company, attributes much of their success to celebrities and social media, stating , “We haven’t paid a dollar in marketing fees, so it’s great.”

No wonder they haven’t needed marketing fees. Look at some of the celebrities that have posted online about their hoverboard and how it’s been received by their fans/followers:

  • Kevin Hart – 276,000 likes on Instagram

  • Missy Elliott – 12 million views on YouTube

  • Cara Delevigne – 569,000 likes in Instagram

  • Jamie Foxx – 450,000 views on YouTube

  • John Legend – 64,600 likes in Instagram

  • Justin Bieber – 1,200,000 likes on Instagram

Before you think that this article is just about bashing PhunkeeDuck, know that it’s not. Not too long ago, YouTube created YouTube for Kids. It was immediately praised as a site where young kids could avoid inappropriate content that is easily available on the original platform. However, it didn’t take long before critics accused the site of using deceptive advertising tactics. The main argument was that the site was filled with too many commercials and that young children may not too susceptible to the ads.

In England, the law requires that anyone who is a paid celebrity disclose that fact. However, Snickers candy bars had a campaign using celebrities eating the candy bar in what were supposed to be impromptu, un-endorsed pictures. However, as reported by the UK’s Telegraph, that was not the case.

The ability of social media to reach millions of people all across the world can quickly make an impact. That’s what “going viral” is all about. For parents, wouldn’t you want to know who is influencing your children’s behavior? Just as you would want to meet their friends or look out on them as they play outside with their friends, parents should know who their online friends are and who they follow online.

That also includes asking your children to let them see their activities on social media sites that they themselves might not be using. For example, Twitter is a haven for pornography, so looking to see who their children follow on Twitter or have interacted with on the site is just part of being a responsible parent. The same thing is true for any other social media site. I have always been of the opinion that parents should have the sign on information for every social media site that their children use. That doesn’t mean that they should be signing on every day, but spot checks are a good thing – more often if there is a reason to think that there may be something happening online that shouldn’t be happening.

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