An influencer mom recently announced a meet-and-greet tour for her 3-year-old daughter, kicking off more debate about how young is too young for kids to be on social media.
Shawniece Shepherd, a Georgia entrepreneur and mother to a 3-year-old, reportedly announced an upcoming tour for her daughter, who has more than 229,000 followers on an Instagram account managed by her mother, more than 66,000 on TikTok, and her own clothing line. Her followers are very engaged with her content, and many of them refer to her as their “IG niece.” In turn, her mom often refers to followers as “IG uncles” and “IG aunties.”
The original Eventbrite link for the tour still exists but the event is now deleted. An Instagram post from Feb. 16 is still up, asking followers what cities they should visit for a meet and greet. While many commented on how cute she is, or how excited they are, one said, “Love her but a meet and greet for a toddler is a little [grimacing face emoji].”
TikTok user Sarah (@mom.uncharted,) who has more than 198,000 followers and often discusses child safety online, responded to a commenter asking her to address the meet-and-greet and included alleged screenshots of the event posting. The flyer shows planned events in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago in March and April. One screenshot shows that tickets for the Atlanta event are apparently $30.
“When I say the parasocial relationships on social media are out of control, this is a great example,” Sarah said. The TikTok has more than 331,000 views as of Saturday.
@mom.uncharted Replying to @Eboni IMO every account that soley features a child under the age of 13 on SM should be shut down- the state of child exploitation is completely out of control #reply #fyp #toddler #parents #parenting #kids #influencers #socialmedia #insta #exploitation #exploitationawareness #minorsafety #onlinesafety #meetandgreet #greenscreen ♬ original sound – mom.uncharted
There’s been continued backlash around kids that young being featured on social media—last summer, TikTokers turned against the mom of a 3-year-old after followers thought she was being exploited and sexualized. TikTok requires users to be 13 or older, but family TikTok accounts are very popular, and they often put young children in the spotlight before they can consent, which can open them up to predatory behavior.
A bill was proposed in Washington state earlier this month, which gives minors who are featured on TikTok more power to request videos be deleted once they’re of age, as well as a right to compensation for work. The Clean Slate for Kids Online Act was also introduced earlier this month and similarly aims to give kids the right to have data collected from or about them while they were under the age of 13 deleted.
We reached out to Shepherd via email for comment.