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When children and parents use online platforms to showcase talents, they open themselves up to becoming victims of exploitation and scams. Someone’s hopes and dreams can turn into their worst nightmare. It is easier than ever before to fall victim due to today’s technology. As a psychologist, Dr. Tracy Bennett saw the growing rate of online injuries and the need to educate families about online safety. Our Social Media Readiness Course helps tweens and teens avoid digital injury and optimize psychological wellness. Today’s GKIS article discusses exploitation and scams on online platforms used to showcase kids’ talents. 

Parents Use Social Media to Showcase Child Talent 

Kids love to be creative and show off their talents, whether it’s sports, art, singing, dancing, acting, or modeling. And for a lucky few, online branding can lead to big profits. Social media can be the perfect platform to build an audience and get the attention of professionals in that industry.  

One of the most popular social media apps for showcasing talent is TikTok.[3] TikTok is one of the fastest-growing platforms where users can create a huge following and make income. It’s the most popular medium currently for showcasing talent.

Here are some methods commonly used to optimize child talent exposure

  • posting high-quality content regularly on social media 
  • running advertisements 
  • partnering with other influencers 
  • partnering with various brands 
  • contracting with content developers 
  • buying likes and follows 
  • creating custom websites[11] 

The Benefits of Showcasing Talent 

Showcasing children’s talents can be profitable, lead to amazing opportunities, and may help boost a child’s confidence, self-esteem, and social capital. In fact, Dr. Bennett often presents to high school students how to create a personal brand to help them showcase their strengths and qualifications for college. This webinar is offered as a live webinar for students and parents and is included in our Screen Safety Essentials Course. 

The Risks of Showcasing Talent 

Anytime we reveal personal information online or allow strangers to have access to us, we must be aware of risks. Big exposure can make one vulnerable to exploitation, scams, cyberbullies, and predators.   

Child exploitation refers to using a child to perform or work for the benefit of others at a disservice to the child’s mental or physical health, education, or development.[1]  

A scam is popularly known as a deceptive trick or a scheme used to cheat someone out of something valuable, usually money.[2]  

Types of scams include: 

  • Talent scouting scams  
  • Charity Scams 
  • Lottery Scams 
  • Government Impersonation Scams 
  • Sweepstakes Scams[12]

For more information on scams and how you can avoid them, we encourage you to read our Scammers Target the Elderly: How to Avoid Being Scammed article. 

Harm That Can Occur Due to Online Exposure 

Parent Pressure and Excessive Demand 

Some argue that supporting your child so they can benefit from their talents and helping them achieve their dreams is the job of a parent. Others believe that kids should be allowed to be kids and that putting them to work creating a “brand” meets the needs of the parents rather than the child. We at GKIS recognize both situations exist out there.

While it can be healthy to have high expectations, applying too much pressure can be harmful. Because kids don’t have the cognitive abilities necessary to calculate the odds of success and risks involved with online exposure, some say online branding should wait until adulthood. Other risks from overdoing it include physical or cognitive injury, mental illness, self-esteem problems, academic delay, and sleep deprivation.[8] 

Gaming a System Set Up for Child Protection 

Another cause for concern is how many kids on social media do not meet the age requirements specified in the platforms’ terms of agreement. These terms are created for the protection of children. Unfortunately, it is hard to enforce because children easily bypass these by simply creating accounts under a false age. 

Interpersonal Exploitation 

Another harmful outcome of online showcasing is unsafe peers and predators communicating with your child online. For example, a father was interviewed after discovering that his seven-year-old daughter was being contacted by adults for naked pictures on TikTok.[4] This type of exploitation is a common threat that parents need to be aware of and why monitoring activity regularly is imperative. Setting parental controls can be beneficial and possible with our Screen Safety Toolkit. 

Financial Exploitation 

Another risk is financial exploitation with identity theft. Scammers have many ways to target children online. Scammers can open lines of credit that can go undetected for several years.[5] To read more about how to protect your family against cybercrime, read our article Child Identity Theft is on the Rise. Protect Your Family Against Cybercrime.  

Red Flags to Look Out For 

  • Before interacting with potential producers or partners, vet them online using search engines like Google and LinkedIn, professional organization credentialing, and reviewing testimonials and reviews. Avoid rushing into having your child interact with people claiming to want to work with them  
  • Also, when your child is hired to showcase their talents, do not pay fees upfront.[9] 

Also, be wary of talent opportunities where

  • the other party uses urgent or threatening language  
  • appears to be too good to be true  
  • provides suspicious attachments 
  • makes threats of any kind 
  • requests personal or private information 
  • urges you to click on a link 
  • provides information that you were not expecting[7]

How to Protect Your Family from Online Dangers  

Educate Your Child and Initiate Frequent Screen Safety Conversations 

To help your kids learn about red flags for online exploitation, use our free Connected Family Screen Agreement. Our Connected Family Screen Agreement is like a screen safety checklist but so much more. It informs you about the risks of digital injury and how to prevent them. Our agreement also aids in empowering your kids to teach you since they are digital natives and you’re the digital immigrant. Use it to clarify your expectations and prevent conflict while practicing critical listening and negotiating skills while having fun. With our screen agreement, you will create a living document that can be changed and renegotiated along the way. 

Set Up Your Online Management Toolkit 

Children are more prone than ever before to fall victim to online injury. With this in mind, psychologist Dr. Tracy Bennett has dedicated herself to perfecting products for families like yours. To help parents and families prevent digital injury, we created several online courses like the GKIS Screen Safety Toolkit for parents of kids of all ages.  

Optimize Healthy Tech Use with Best Home Setup 

To help you learn how to achieve screen sanity, we at GKIS have spent time creating a vital course for your entire family. Our Screen Safety Essentials Course includes parent-only videos with the information and tools you need to earn the credibility to be your go-to expert. We also include family videos, workbook pages, and colorful infographic downloads to help do the teaching and discussing with you. You also get exclusive access to Dr. Bennett’s BEST webinars. Need a little expert support? Opt for private coaching with Dr. Bennett. 

Encourage Independence and Critical Problem Solving 

Our GKIS Social Media Readiness Course is an awesome resource for tweens and teens. Our free GKIS Blog articles offer great ideas for screen safety discussions during a screen-free dinner. 

Thanks to CSUCI intern Janette Jimenez for researching the risks of exploitation and scams when using online platforms to showcase kids’ talent and authoring this article. 

I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe. 

Onward to More Awesome Parenting, 

Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty

Works Cited 

[1] Action for the Rights of Children (ARC) chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://www.unhcr.org/3bb81aea4.pdf 

[2] Scam Definition & Meaning https://www.dictionary.com/browse/scam#:~:text=A%20scam%20is%20a%20deceptive,security%20number%20over%20the%20phone. 

[3] How TikTok Predators Are Interacting With Kids https://www.bark.us/blog/predators-use-tiktok-kids/ 

[4] Father Warns Parents About Popular App After His 7-Year-Old Daughter Is Asked to Send Suggestive Photos https://people.com/human-interest/father-warns-parents-about-popular-app-after-his-7-year-old-daughter-is-asked-to-send-suggestive-photos/ 

[5] How Scammers Target Kids Online https://www.onpointcu.com/blog/how-scammers-target-kids-online/ 

[6]Social Media And Mental Health: How To Help Your Child Develop Healthy Social Media Habits https://fairhopepeds.com/blog/social-media-and-mental-health-how-to-help-your-child-develop-healthy-social-media-habits/ 

[7]How to Teach Kids About Phishing and Online Scams https://www.verywellfamily.com/teach-kids-about-phishing-and-online-scams-5248479 

[8]The Dangers of Putting Too Much Pressure on Kids https://www.verywellfamily.com/the-dangers-of-putting-too-much-pressure-on-kids-1094823 

[9] The Parent Trap: Entertainment Industry Scams, Scammers and Scumbags. https://vadastudios.com/news/the-parent-trap-entertainment-industry-scams-scammers-and-scumbags/ 

[10]` TikTok Parents Are Taking Advantage of Their Kids. It Needs to Stop https://www.cnet.com/tech/services-and-software/tiktok-parents-are-taking-advantage-of-their-kids-it-needs-to-stop/ 

[11] 25 Actionable Tips on How to Make Your Child an Instagram Influencer https://www.olesia.co.in/actionable-tips-on-how-to-make-your-child-an-instagram-influencer 

[12] https://getkidsinternetsafe.com/scammed/ 

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