Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’s son Boomer (@boomerrphelps) has more than 702000000 followers on Instagram. Serena Williams’s daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian (@olympiaohanian) is currently sitting on 571000000. Believe it or not, both have reached Instagram star status before the age of 2.
These days, celebrity babies are not only born into wealth, they find instant fame with verified social media accounts the minute they make their acquaintance with the world. And every influencer worth their weight in gold knows a blue ticked account is something to behold.
The “sharenting” trend is nothing new - parents have been sharing pictures of their offspring since the dawn of social media. But now parents are going beyond the trend and setting up accounts for their kids, sometimes hours after giving birth.
Gordon Ramsay’s wife Tana gave birth to their fifth child and within three-and-a-half hours the baby had a social media account. His first post managed to rack up more than 23000 likes, and even though he’s less than two months old, he has amassed more than 73000000 followers.
Even the offspring of hip hop royalty Kairo Forbes can lay claim to being one of the most followed kids in South Africa. Not long after she was born, her parents AKA and DJ Zinhle documented her every milestone on social media. Now Kairo has become a brand, thanks in part to her online presence.
Instagram has specific criteria you have to meet to get your profile verified. It’s a complicated process. So how do these celeb babies manage to get blue ticked minutes after birth?
“We look at a number of factors when evaluating Instagram accounts to determine if they’re in the public interest and meet our verification criteria,” said a spokesperson from the Facebook-owned picture-sharing app.
Is there money to be made? You bet. “Parenting and content creation have long coexisted online. Since the early days of mommy blogging, kids’ everyday lives and the merchandise associated with them have been common internet fodder,” wrote The Atlantic’s Allie Volpe.
As a popular platform for documenting one’s life has shifted to the more visual, it’s become easier to monetise content simply by sharing a picture of a child and a product, said digital anthropologist Crystal Abidin.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Kairo 🇿🇦 (@kairo.forbes) on
And therein lies the problem. “With the rise of the influencer industry en masse, instead of the stories of children going through the process of trying out the products with their moms, they have been reduced to props,” she added.