The video-sharing platform TikTok seems to be all the rage among young people these days. And like with other apps of its kind, the primary stars that rise among its user base are also on the younger side.
Case in point is 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio, who is reportedly the most-followed user on TikTok at the moment.
But while online fame comes with a ton of perks, some psychologists are expressing concerns over the negative consequences that come with it.
Complications of Fame
Experts like Ciarán McMahon, Ph.D. are pointing out how young influencers would likely face the same problems that come with ‘child fame. However, their experience would be made more complicated by the nuances that come with being famous in the age of social media surveillance and the addiction to the instant gratification that comes with online attention.
After all, platforms like Instagram and TikTok have created a different path, a shortcut even, to becoming a celebrity. Thus, these apps have also changed what fame means for the young stars of today.
McMahon notes that what comes next with the current batch of Internet-famous children won’t be pretty. This assumption is based on what has happened with child stars of the past.
One notable case of childhood fame going awry is that of Drew Barrymore’s. After gaining recognition in the ‘80s for the film E.T., the then-young actress was introduced to a life of excess and a lack of parental supervision, which sent her in a downward spiral of mental illness and substance abuse even before she began her teens. Luckily, Barrymore managed to get the help she needed, and she was able to turn her life around.
Her story serves as a warning to other child stars until today.
While young influencers are susceptible to the same pitfalls Barrymore faced, they may also struggle with their self-worth as they deal with the tendency to equate their value as a person with likes and views.
As McMahon explained, influencers are in a constant battle against the threat of being ‘invisible’ whether they’re aware of it or not. This desire can then make them more vulnerable to abuse drugs or alcohol if they can no longer get the instant gratification that comes with online fame.
Meanwhile, there are also cases when a child star can develop a false sense of empathy and even acquired situational narcissism as they experience overwhelming attention from fans.