By JESSICA WEINBERG

Open Instagram and you will probably see at least one post featuring a child. No, a wave of toddlers has not suddenly started their own. Rather, it’s their parents: millennial mothers using their kids as their latest accessory.

When social media started all that was required to get attention was post a picture from vacation or in a new outfit. Now that activity on apps like Instagram are at an all-time high, just posting photos of yourself does not cut it. Millennial mothers, most aspiring influencers wanting to add followers, are showcasing their kids to show a more relatable side to their picture-perfect lives.

Consider blogger Arielle Charnas (@somethingnavy). While her fashion forward posts draw an average of 30,000 followers, posts featuring her almost two-year-old daughter, Ruby, typically do better. A post of Ruby got 15,000 more likes than a post of Charnas, alone, on the same day.

 

Melissa Wachman attracted more than 16,000 followers in less than a year with her “Lullabies and Louboutins” Instagram. Her most-liked posts feature her “twinning” with her toddlers, three-year-old Evan and one-and-a-half-year-old Chloe. Wachman said she recognizes posts with her children gain more attraction; However, the decision to feature them was organic. “I strive to be true and authentic in all of my work, so it just seemed natural to incorporate my children to give my audience the most accurate peek into my daily life,” she said via email.

    

Wachman said her goal is to inspire women even busy moms. “Throw on that rainbow colored fur vest and be the most fabulous mom at school drop-off,” she said.

While some bloggers are open to documenting every aspect of their children’s day, others contemplate how much exposure is too much. Lauren Sweeney, who posts everything from nature to her meals, knew she would include her daughter, but debated how much and what details were okay. “I did have to think about whether it would be something that would benefit her. Ultimately I decided it’s fine to use pictures of her face,” Sweeney said. She limits the information in her posts referring to her daughter only by her nickname, Phi, not tagging locations, and not mentioning where Phi goes to school.

Figuring out how to get more likes on a photo has become difficult with the increase in lifestyle bloggers. Sweeney said her strategy means that Phi needs to be doing something unusual. Photos of Sweeney alongside her daughter, she said, tend to do better than solo pictures of Phi.

Sweeney said Phi’s participation in her Instagram will always be an ongoing conversation. While she does not have a specific age in mind as the threshold for when her daughter will have a say, Sweeney said, if Phi ever indicates that she does not want to be as involved then Sweeney will respect that.

While we might enjoy the intimate look into influencers’ daily lives, the potential effects of social media on children are detrimental. Larry D. Rosen, PhD, professor of psychology at California State University said via email that social media has been linked to negative psychological outcomes such as anxiety or depression. While there is no data on children, Rosen said, due to social medias addictive nature exposure at a young age is not good for a child’s biochemistry. “My prediction is that they will become even more enmeshed with technology and social media than their parents,” he said.

The increased likes in posts with kids are spurred by followers’ desires to see a more authentic side to bloggers, said Georgina Rutherford, head of Marketing and Communications at IMA, a social media marketing agency for influencers. “I don’t think people are more interested but more that they appreciate seeing all elements of an influencer’s life, whether that’s their children, family, home, pets and more,” she said.

Giving followers a “behind the curtain” peak into their lives, Rutherford said, allows us to view influencers more like friends. “We connect with influencers more than celebrities because their lives mirror that of ours,” she said. Bloggers’ audiences want to see them sitting in their living room with no makeup on Saturday morning, and influencers deliver showing “the other side of the edited/beautiful photos which is why they are more authentic,” Rutherford said.