Why Psychologists Say the Future for Teen TikTok Celebs Like Charli D’Amelio Is ‘Not Going to Be Pretty’
For TikTok celebrities like Charli D’Amelio, fame came early on. So many TikTok creators — Addison Rae, Dixie D’Amelio, and Loren Gray, to name just a few — used apps like TikTok and YouTube to become famous as teens. Now, experts are looking at the long-term consequences of TikTok-fame. What does it mean for the D’Amelio sisters that they are essentially the new child stars?
TikTok influencers get a lot of attention at an early age — what does it mean for these celebrities long-term?
As Insider recently reported, being internet-famous can be a bit intense for a young person.
Experts warn that these young influencers will face the typical hurdles of child fame, but with the additional complication of real-time social media surveillance by millions and an algorithmically programmed addiction to the instant gratification of a never-ending barrage of notifications.
As the author of the book The Psychology of Social Media, Ciarán Mc Mahon, explained: “We’ve had cases of child stars in different eras and different times. But this is a more enhanced and hyper version of that.”
While McMahon admitted she didn’t know “how that will work out,” the Ph.D. had one ominous prediction: “history would suggest that it’s not going to be pretty.”
Part of the potential danger is that with TikTok, “everyday children are so easily vaulted into the spotlight with little predictability.”
As Dixie D’Amelio, a prominent TikTok influencer, said in a separate interview with Insider, “no one was trying to [become famous] on this app.” (That includes D’Amelio and her sister Charli, who has the most followers of anyone on TikTok.)
Teen brains aren’t developed enough to handle celebrity status
Another psychology Ph.D. named Pamela Rutledge explained to Insider why this sudden fame is troublesome for children.
“Your ability to assess risk, your ability to make some cognitive judgments to plan ahead — all of those things are cognitive skills that develop over that period of time,” she said. Before you turn 25, key parts of the brain aren’t yet developed.
“Experiencing fame during adolescence, Rutledge said, makes it even harder for celebrities to keep a handle on reality.”
Clinical psychologist Donna Rockwell also shared:
[even] for the most grounded of people, getting swept up into the spotlight of fame is very difficult to withstand, to stay grounded. So for a child, it’s 10 times more difficult. It’s exponentially more challenging because they haven’t even developed a full self yet.
For young people, finding your identity while simultaneously creating a brand can be too much pressure.
“You’re having to do this sort of creation all the time,” Rutledge said. “At what point is it you, and at what point is it this persona that you’ve created?”
TikTok stars like Addison Rae reached fame at an early age — are they this generation’s child stars?
A study from the World Psychiatry medical journal showed that positive reinforcement on apps like TikTok “directly quantify our social success (or failure), by providing clear metrics.” These could be things like “likes, followers, and views.” Using the social media apps had adverse effects on many teens’ self-esteem.
TikTok and other platforms heighten the “ephemeral nature” of fame — which makes it all the more dangerous than traditional child-star fame, derived from TV shows or movies.
“There are thousands of teens around the world who are ‘famous’ on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, and most of them will not be able to uphold that level of fame for long,” Insider wrote.
Charli D’Amelio and her sister Dixie are using their platform for good — why that’s important
So, what is the solution? How do we prevent Charli D’Amelio from turning into Lindsay Lohan? (No shade to Lindsay Lohan).
“They must know in their heart of hearts that they can’t continue like that for a very long period of time,” Mc Mahon explained of TikTok influencers. “My advice to them would be, quite simply, to think about their exit plan.”
Experts also recommend using a social media platform for good.
Fortunately, Insider reported:
… both Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, two of the most famous people on TikTok, have already participated in multiple efforts to help the collective good, including a recent anti-bullying project with Unicef and promoting body positivity.
“Research suggests that kids who take advantage of that opportunity in a positive way can lead to better-adjusted adult lives,” the publication continued. Luckily for the D’Amelio sisters, they figured that out early in their careers.