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Children as professional influencers and internet celebrities

Research project
Active research
Project size
2,9 M SEK
Project period
2023 - 2025
Project owner
Department of education, communication and learning

Short description

This project aims to explore Swedish children’s own assessments on the phenomenon of internet celebrities from the perspectives of child influencers. Furthermore, it examines how different digital platforms, promotional material and images work in constructing and reconstructing child influencing culture as well as children and childhood more broadly. The project also direct attention to how the practices of childhood influencing might be shaped by inequalities of gender orientation, sexuality, and social class. Additionally, the study contributes insights into the potentially changing roles of children and adults when children are influencers.

About the research project

Children today are growing up in a visual-digital era and are actively engaged with social media. The number of minors who call themselves ‘professional’ influencers or ‘internet celebrities’ and launch products or services for companies is increasing. Child-created content is thus also part of a growing digital economy. This raises questions about children and labour and about leisure and responsibility in the modern digital culture. As the digital society intensifies and shifts, the definition of what it means to be a child also shifts. The entire influencer culture challenges established and theoretical categories, such as age. Children are integrated into consumer culture, building their own financial portfolios. This in turn also contests the power relations between children and adults. 

The aim of this study is to explore Swedish children’s own assessments on the phenomenon of internet celebrities from the perspectives of child influencers. Theoretically, the study combines childhood studies, child consumption and visual digital culture. 

Based on empirical material consisting of web material, interviews with influencers aged 9–13 and their parents, this project will contribute to new and significant knowledge about what it means to grow up in the visual-digital era from the viewpoint of the child. Further, the study will provide insights into how child influencer culture challenges theoretical notions of children, childhood, and adulthood. Additionally, the project contributes to an ethical and methodological discussion about children and visual digital images and social media.

Project members

Ylva Ågren, senior lecturer, project leader
Department of education, communication and learning

Anna Sparrman, professor
Child Studies, Linköping University