Stepping into the Spotlight

With millions of eyes watching them, teen influencers lead wildly different lives than most.

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image courtesy of pxfuel

Various assortment of social media applications that influencers use every day.

Lorenzo Zottoli, Staff Writer

Growing up is a challenging time—a time to learn who you are while making honest mistakes and learning from them. But what happens when you go from being an everyday teen to being thrown into the spotlight?

Teen celebrities are nothing new, but in the age of social media, the phenomenon has only grown more prevalent — and more intense.

TikTok star Nick Bencevigo has been professionally dancing since he was six years old and jumped into the acting industry when he was twelve. Growing up in a professional industry was always a part of his life, so making the switch to TikTok (3.1 million followers), Instagram (250,000 followers), Snapchat (220,000 subscribers), and YouTube (124,000 subscribers) was an easy transition.

Nick Bencivengo, Malibu, California (photo by Casius Dean)

“I feel that being an influencer could take away parts of your childhood,” Bencivengo said, “but for me, this is all I’ve known. I’ve always had to be professional and give up parts of my childhood, but it was all worth it, and I don’t think of any of it negatively.”

Being recognized in public, however, is something that Bencivengo is still continuing to get used to.

“Last January, I went to Knotts Berry Farm with one of my friends, and I started getting recognized left and right,” he said. “That’s when I realized that this is real life and that I established a following.”

For teen influencer Gracie Kate, the transition into social media was not as easy as she had no prior experience beforehand. Over the past two years, she has gained over 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube, 185,000 followers on Instagram, and 220,000 followers on TikTok.

Gracie Kate, Pasago Springs, Colorado (photo by Cori Russel)

“I get held accountable for my actions a lot more than my friends do,” Gracie explained. “I learned I have to be careful about what I post now since I have such a wide variety of followers who see my content.”

Having a following can sometimes be overwhelming and scary at times. In a recent study conducted by the Child Mind Institute, it was found that teens who actively engage in social media have a 13%-66% of having depression than teens who stay away from it.

At the end of the day, the rise of social media influencers has had a positive impact on younger kids. Social media is now becoming an everyday activity for most young adults, and it is good that there are positive creators for young kids to look up to.

“My favorite part about being an influencer is being able to inspire and help kids to grow up,” Bencivengo said. “When I was younger, the way that I grew up was by watching YouTubers and idolizing creators. It’s so special to be able to do the same for others.”

In a new world with new ways of putting yourself out there, young influencers help guide kids along the way. Adults or parents may never understand the need for them, but teens and tweens alike understand the want for them.