TikTok is breeding a new batch of child stars. Psychologists say what comes next won't be pretty.
- The biggest stars of 2020 are kids who have gone viral on social media.
- Experts say these young influencers are even more at risk for developing problems than previous generations of child stars, as their lives are constantly broadcast (and observed by) millions worldwide.
- With social media, people have become obsessed with their own visibility. Whether they're aware of it or not, influencers are constantly fighting to be seen and battling that "threat of invisibility," said Ciarán Mc Mahon, PhD, the author of "The Psychology of Social Media."
- Child stars often become addicted to fame, and thousands of influencers fighting for attention may be extremely disappointed when they are one day unable to keep it up.
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In 1968, Andy Warhol predicted that in the future, "everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes." He was right, and that was before TikTok, where all it takes to blow up is an iPhone and a pretty face. But Warhol couldn't have predicted that TikTok's algorithm would quickly sweep up a huge group of children, making them some of the most famous people in the world in the blink of an eye.
The most-followed creator on TikTok, Charli D'Amelio, turned 16 on May 1. Loren Gray, whom D'Amelio recently overtook for the top spot on the short-form video platform, turned 18 in April.
The young age of the app's biggest stars was on full display amid recent drama, as D'Amelio and Chase Hudson, 18, fought over their relationship publicly on Twitter. A series of tweets from both of them implicated other TikTok megastars in the saga, too, including Josh Richards, 18, and Nessa Barrett, 17.
Experts warn that these young influencers will face the typical hurdles of child fame, but with the additional complication of real-time social media surveillance by millions and an algorithmically programmed addiction to the instant gratification of a never-ending barrage of notifications.
"We've had cases of child stars in different eras and different times. But this is a more enhanced and hyper version of that," Ciarán Mc Mahon, PhD, the author of "The Psychology of Social Media," told Insider. "I don't know how that will work out, but history would suggest that it's not going to be pretty."
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