The Growing Dependency of young users on online Personalities


Social media is one of the most conservative mediums of the digital ecosystem that has the youngest of generations on its cusp. It has influenced societies round the world and revolutionised the way people eat, sleep, wear and consume anything. It has blurred the lines between the real and virtual worlds. It has become difficult for children to grow up without the influence of social media as they might feel isolated due to peer pressure of becoming the cool kid. It allows social media personalities to, very effortlessly, build an army of fans that become their religious followers, more so children, whose personalities are still in their formative stages.

Unprecedented advancements in the world of technology have made it handy for social media personalities to interact with their users directly and that too on a regular basis. The kind of content they bring on varied platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube is shaping the opinions, attitudes and behaviour of the younger generation. The ease with which users of any age can get their hands on any kind of content online raises many questions about the whole ecosystem.

These influencers have great strategies to attract young users as through their channels they try to showcase the luxurious lifestyles they lead and are often seen as embodiment of success, beauty and consumerism. Along with this, they try and set up certain standards of living or appearing in the public which allure children, like wearing luxurious outfits, maintaining a certain kind of body, using high-end products and having tons of online and offline followers.


The most important of it all is the uncanny standards of beauty that are being set by these influencers, some of whom resort to extreme methods in order to remain in shape. Eating disorders like bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, binge eating etc are glamourised by these online personalities and they urge young kids to take up the same challenges which harm their physical and mental well-being.

Keeping a tab on what new is up with their social media personalities has become a hobby for kids. Scrolling or watching content for hours has become the new cool especially for school and college going kids. The constant urge to be aware of whatever is happening or otherwise feeling FOMO (fear of missing out) has made kids feel isolated, tensed and depressed as they are on the screens most of the time.

In a recent incident, a YouTuber named Thoppi was arrested in Kerala for indulging in obscene language. His user base mostly comprises of high school going boys who like his content as it has vulgar and abusive language. He is known for live-streaming games and using foul language. He was arrested as he live-streamed a shop-inauguration event that he was attending and sang a song that involved inappropriate language. He also live-streamed the police arresting him, which led to an outrage among his followers.

Along with this, the rise of these personalities has led to an increase in the circulation of fake news or spreading of misinformation. According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2023, 56% of respondents in India were dependent on YouTube for news, followed by WhatsApp (47%) and Facebook (39%), rather than on traditional methods like newspapers and television. Additionally, users of social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, were dependent more on social media personalities/influencers for news rather than journalists. For the younger generation, the definition of news has changed completely.


Mr. Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, the Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism observed, “Younger generations increasingly eschew direct discovery for all but the most appealing brands. They have little interest in many conventional news offers oriented towards older generations’ habits, interests, and values, and instead embrace the more personality-based, participatory, and personalized options offered by social media, often looking beyond legacy platforms to new entrants, many of whom drive few referrals to media organisations and do not prioritise news”.

The growing dependence of young users on these online personalities also points to the fact that they find the content relatable. They take cues from the life of these influencers and try to imitate the same in their own lives. In such situations, it becomes essential for young content consumers to be mindful of what they actually want to take out from the online world and implement in the offline one.

In conclusion, along with the users being mindful of their consumption, parents, educators and others should also teach kids to beware of online personalities. There is more to the internet to take inspiration from rather than consorting to social media influencers for shaping how kids live, behave, react and makeup their lifestyles. Healthy social media practices are a must for the younger generations as access to an array of unregulated and inappropriate content at a young age can impact their overall personality.