‘Mommy-ran accounts’ and the dangerous paedophile rings preying on kidfluencer content

By Francesca Johnson

Published Mar 5, 2022 at 09:20 AM

Reading time: 4 minutes

Do you ever wonder how in the world child stars on Instagram have followings of hundreds of thousands if not millions? If you can see past all your envy at the shiny brand deals and the sponsorship galore on their pages, you might notice they say ‘Account run by Mommy’ in the bio. I decided to take a closer look and what I found horrified me. Introducing the horror that is the ‘Mommy-ran account’.

In the digital age, everything is content—from teens train hopping on TikTok and participating in trash streaming abuse on YouTube to silent streams that send viewers into a serene sleep and mukbang content creators slowly killing themselves for clicks—the list of opportunities to go viral seems endless. As a result, this means that the line between what is ethical and what isn’t often gets blurry, especially when the content in question includes other people than the main creator. Today, we’re going to think of the children and investigate the bizarre and dangerous world of mommy-ran accounts.

While some might argue that TikTok has an educational value that differs from formal education in a beneficial way, it’s also important to note that the platform is yet to have found a successful approach to dealing with its problem of children being exposed to harmful content. With potential predators and even paedophiles hiding behind their screens, child safety is a concern many have on their mind, especially parents. Simply speaking, it’s dangerous to have children online in any capacity, although there are known ways to safeguard their experience as much as possible.

But what happens when the very people who are supposed to protect their children are the ones putting them in danger (either knowingly or unknowingly)?

The world of mommy-ran accounts

@mom.uncharted

In this case, the parents know exactly who is following #socialmedia #fyp #influencer #parentsoftiktok #foryou #protectthechildren #momsoftiktok

♬ Intentions (Instrumental Version) [Originally Performed by Justin Bieber & Quavo] - Elliot Van Coup

Between aesthetic moms and mommy managers that have found ways to make money out of their little darlings on Instagram and TikTok, there are also the mommy-ran accounts—profiles of kidfluencers where their parents (usually mothers) are behind the wheel.

SCREENSHOT talked to one mother and content creator to gain some insight from the community in order to understand more about the harmful circles operating around mommy-ran accounts. Speaking to Sarah Adams, otherwise known as @mom.uncharted on TikTok, I was horrified by the world she uncovered hiding in the follower lists of mommy accounts: paedophiles and predators.

As a married mother of two children, Adams shared that she is “fascinated by the evolution and state of parental public oversharing.” She described her content as “focused around parental public oversharing—think family vloggers or influencers who have turned kids into content.” I can certainly name a few, I’m side-eyeing the ACE Family here.

The content creator  also wanted to talk more openly online about the concept of ‘Sharenting’ (the practice of parents publicising content about their children on internet platforms). “I’ve also incorporated child safety, online sharing practices, and sharing stories/articles related to the topics I discuss,” she added. Asking Adams why she chose to investigate mommy-ran accounts—since it’s a very dark rabbit hole to fall into—she explained that they fell into an intersection of her content around child exploitation on social media.

@mom.uncharted

When does content feel exploitative to you? #momcontent #socialmedia #fyp #influencers #familyvlog #foryoupage

♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

Adams’ primary predicaments with these accounts fit into three categories: “One: the exploitation of children for fame and financial gain, two: privacy and consent—children cannot give informed consent [as well as] their right to privacy infringed upon and three: the disregard, or lack of knowledge on the dangers/potential consequences, for the child’s online safety.”

Some are uncomfortable with these accounts posting so much content. For example, one of Adam’s videos covers the epidemic of children being filmed sleeping, in the middle of breakdowns and intimate milestones or purposefully disrupting them from their routines in order to make so-called ‘entertaining’ content. Though Adams maintained that it is well within a parent’s right to post what they want of their children, she clarified that her issue lies with the “belief that children also have a right to privacy.”

“I do not think strangers on the internet should be privy to so much information and have so much access to your children. We are unaware of the long-term effects or potential consequences to having our children’s lives played out online for the public so as parents—we need to err on the side of caution and be mindful of what we post,” she continued.

Adams’ concern lies in those yet unknown long-term consequences. Years of being forced to be a fashionista, a brand rep for money and a constant vehicle of sometimes distressing content creation must impact a child negatively, right? “I think the long-term effects have yet to be seen other than the issues of privacy, consent and safety,” she first told me.

But the video creator  seemed to share the same sentiment I did, that being judged purely for physical, aesthetic or any aspects of your life that are out of your control will most definitely have an impact on a child. “Being thrown into the world of materialism and consumerism at such a young age is bound to have some effects on a child’s psyche,” Adams explained.

Are mommy-ran accounts knowingly baiting predators?

Moving on, we dived into the deep end and started to peel back the curtain on the predators: the most terrifying side of the world of mommy-ran accounts. “They aren’t hiding over on the ‘dark web’, they are active and present on all the social media platforms and currently there is no effective way to remove them from [those],” Adams divulged.

Furthermore, it’s simple for them to lay in wait undetected and manoeuvre past safety blocks. “It’s easy for anyone to create an anonymous account with a photo of a puppy or a stock model and curate a whole private account of minor accounts they follow,” she continued.

@mom.uncharted

A hashtag doesn’t seem so innocent once you know who is following it 🥺 #socialmedia #influencers #fyp #fy #parentsoftiktok #protectthechildren

♬ Forever - Labrinth

In one viral video of Adams’, she brought up the use of emojis, hashtags and words—some of the most commonly seen being ‘MAP’ (for ‘Minor Attracted Person’), ‘69’, ‘drp’, 🍕—and I asked her to expand on what they signify.

“This was a new discovery for me so I am not overly familiar, however, people in my comment section on that video have stated a variety of symbols and words they use to identify themselves. The blue swirl, which is the 🌀, is one I was informed of by a fellow TikToker that stands for ‘looking for/interested in young boys’. Cheese pizza (🍕) has the acronym ‘CP’ which is covert for ‘Child Porn’.”

Furthermore, brands should let kids be kids and move away from working with kidfluencers or individuals who are exploiting their children. “There are amazing mom accounts that don’t or seldom feature their children and the brands should focus on collaborating with those individuals,” she stated.

While it doesn’t look like mommy-ran accounts will be going away anytime soon, Adams and others online are starting to call them out. And about time too. With her content, Adams remains assured in her mission to unveil the dangers of child content on the internet for other parents to be aware of. “My main goal is to present a different perspective on public parental oversharing in an attempt to have parents pause before posting and think, ‘Do my kids really need to be here?’” Adams finished off.

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