Ola Pelo is a leading influencer, content creator and voice-over artist- her online presence centres on her relatable family life with ‘The Pelo Fam’, coupled with a focus on life as a working mum of Nigerian heritage. As the former Global Brand Partnerships Manager at TikTok, Ola is able to provide unique insights into the growth of social media, and how this has impacted society and children both positively and negatively, so we caught up with her to hear her thoughts on this very topic of conversation.
Why do parents feel the need to post pictures of their children on social media when they could just as easily send updates and pictures privately?
There is definitely an increased amount of pressure felt by some parents to share more about how they are parenting. The whole saying ‘If it isn’t on social media, did it even happen?’ comes into play with parents of the digital age, who grew up also sharing their own lives pre-parenthood.
For us, the reason we share is to educate through the visibility of a black British family, with an African heritage. We create a more representative view that diversifies the social spaces and in turn, challenges stereotypes as we solely cannot rely on the media to consistently show an authentic representation of all people. We have always understood there is a purpose to us sharing and we still manage to have moments that stay for just us too. We ensure that private moments and updates are shared privately, and there is something precious about sharing with family and immediate friends before them seeing it on social.
Do you think parents are aware of the dangers when they do post about their children?
I feel there is a reasonable amount of understanding amongst parents, but all parents need to ensure they are continuously being careful and having a level of awareness when it comes to posting about their children.
What are the potential risks associated with posting about your children on personal social media accounts?
Child safety can be threatened when it comes to other people on social media - they could potentially be attracting dangerous people. Parents also need to be conscious of the lasting digital footprint that could impact your child(ren)’s future(s.)
What impact does a social media presence early on in life have on children as they grow up?
It really depends on how guided they are through the experience and the role of social media in their lives. If children see parents upset about posts not doing well (in terms of likes and engagement) or feel forced to take a picture that contradicts the home environment, this can be incredibly damaging for children. However, when I’m with my children, I focus on teaching them how to create content that can make other people happy. They are very quickly learning how to film and edit their own videos and engage with storytelling in a way that can massively unleash a creative confidence. This will later help them as the digital world evolves.
How can parents post about their family more safely if they want to continue to do so?
To think that any part of social media can be 100% safe space would be ignorant. Even a private account, or profiles that seem genuine - it is difficult to be certain that every follower is certifiable and who they say they are. Whilst it is not something that is often discussed, there are even stories on social media where trusted members of a family have been the ones to share images with predators. I deal with this by blocking all accounts that send comments that make me uncomfortable about the children and my family.
What are the positive and negative effects of social media on children?
The potential negatives are:
- Exposure to content that can impact mental health.
- Impacted social skills based on screen times
- An addiction to being omnipresent online
The positives are:
- building their technological skills
- Nurturing and growing creative confidence through self-expression
- Gaining an understanding of the world beyond where they live.
When should the conversation around social media take place? What is the ideal age?
The conversation should happen the moment parents feel comfortable letting their child watch YouTube. The ads can target children even from a young age. We really have more control if we set the foundation and breakdown the dangers for our children. Children need the guidance just as much as they need protection - the two go hand in hand so we try and implement both together.
Are there platforms that are more dangerous to use than others when posting about your children? What carries more risk- posting photos, details or videos of children on social media?
I believe all platforms carry a level of risk and all sorts of content carry a risk!
What is next for you?
My family and I will continue to use out platform to educate through visibility of a black British family, with an African heritage. We am to create a more representative view that diversifies the social space and in turn, challenge stereotypes that play out in our social fabric in society, all whilst spreading joy.
Some things are better done alone- while this may seem like a harsh statement, it can be easier not to take your toddler along with you to certain places you want or need to visit. Similarly, if you are looking for a bit of 'me time', you are better off leaving the house once your toddler is in slumberland so you can go with a clear conscience knowing that you aren’t leaving your partner to do it all. Their job is simply to listen out for them if they wake up once you exit over the threshold. So, if you are looking to nip out for a couple of hours after the bedtime routine is complete, here are some ideas...