The Dangers of Children on Social Media: Lessons from JonBenét Ramsey
By: Emma Callahan
In today's society entertainment is not only found on the big screen, but in the apps on your phone as well. In fact, according to Digital Logic, “YouTube reaches more U.S. adults, ages 18-34, than any existing networks on cable,” with family vlogging becoming vastly popular among the site. Essentially any parents can become successful influencers if their children are what society considers appealing. These family vlogs exploit children for views and the money that accompanies these views. Children used as an income source is a common trend in Hollywood, a trend that can come with great consequences. For instance, JonBenét Ramsey was put into the beauty pageant world at the young age of 4, only to be tragically murdered by the age of 6. The exploitation of children comes at a cost; it is the horror stories such as JonBenét Ramsey’s that can become these families' reality.
Although JonBenét Ramsey's case was never solved, it is highly suspected that her early start in pageantry was mainly to blame. Publicized versions of JonBenét Ramsey, with full faces of makeup, dressed as someone twice her age, could have easily fallen into the wrong hands. According to the Guardian, “it could very easily be argued that the pageants brought JonBenét to the attention of a local pedophile, and several have since been suspected, but never charged.” JonBenét Ramsey was sexualized from a very young age. Her parents didn’t know how dark the world was, how sick and cruel the world could be. JonBenét Ramsey is a symbol, a warning, parents need to take her story to heart, that little girl strangled to death could be their own.
Children from these family channels aren’t only exploited on YouTube but Instagram as well. For example, the Labrants, a very well known family, have separate instagram profiles for all three of their children. Their daughter Posie is only 2 years old and has over 1.6 million followers, meaning over 1,600,000 people are watching her at all times. It can reasonably be concluded that her large following consists of more than just 12-year-old girls, but potentially ill-intentioned predators as well. Nevertheless, all parent influencers have the same agenda, “how can I make my child more profitable?” With this, parents will go to the extreme, regardless of how humiliating, or dehumanizing it is for the child. At the end of the day, these families have to consider what is truly important, the profit or the child?
The exploitation of children on social media should not be taken lightly; it exposes and endangers children, it is nothing less than child abuse.
“Keep your babies close to you, there's someone out there.” -Patsy Ramsey