Preventing the negative impact of influencers on children and teenagers

As the popularity and success of paid social media influencers increases, their followers often not only want what the influencers have, but also to be them.

2021-01-13 Maltese Safer Internet Centre awareness advertising/commercialism children and young people, parents and carers, teachers, educators and professionals
Young woman holding a laptop, smiling as she looks at her smartphone

The good news is that influencers can make a positive impact in the world when they model healthy behaviours, and there is nothing wrong with advertising products that they truly love and recommend. However, since choosing to follow socially responsible influencers requires discernment, our conversations about financial responsibility should include media literacy. To do so, here are a few practical questions children and teenagers can ask themselves while scrolling through their newsfeed:

  • Who created this picture, video, or advertisement? What is the author’s point of view?
  • Why was this post created? To make me laugh, bring awareness to a cause, or to persuade me?
  • What information has been disclosed and what has been left out?
  • How does this post make me feel?

Children and teenagers spend hours per day online accessing videos and music through social media. Whether they are aware of it or not, being immersed in digital culture also puts them on the receiving end of countless marketing campaigns by social media influencers they admire or trust.

Asking the right questions and teaching our kids media literacy will equip them to successfully navigate the complexities of social media marketing. While this certainly sets them up for better financial responsibility, the benefits do not end there. Helping them understand how they are being influenced strengthens their ability to think critically and become the biggest influencer in their own lives.

Find out more about the work of the Maltese Safer Internet Centre, including their awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

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