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Instamoms are a social media phenomenon of child fame, vanity, and money

Familiarize yourself with Instamoms, the latest phenomenon in social media. Like its modern counterpart, reality television, the social age has produced some rather interesting celebrities that in any other time would probably never have been stars. And children are again the ones being unwillingly thrust into the limelight — often through the work of their parents and, in some cases, “professional” coaches who specialize in making a child an Internet star. That is the story behind a recent New York Times article which discusses the journey of photographers, the children that are the subject of this Internet fame, their parents, and the social media that creates this sensation.

Like many things shared socially on the Web, the emergence of this this media creation has been rapid. It is also highly competitive. The children, whose life stories are being told for all the public to see, boast some pretty impressive social media statistics. For example, there’s four-year-old London Scout, who has 105,000 followers, two-year-old Millie-Belle Diamond with 143,000, as well as four-year-old Michelle (154,000), Gavin (200,000), and the Mini Style Hacker (260,000). Then there’s the “Prince of Instagram,” Alonso Mateo, who recently attended the Dior show at Paris Fashion Week. Alonso has more than 600,000 followers.

Instagram is the social media channel of choice, and research shows it is the fastest growing major social network among adults in the United States. And parents are seeing this this highly visual social tool as a marketing opportunity to show off the lives of their children, and make money in doing so. There are endorsement deals, photographers whose work focuses on Instagram accounts, discounts at a variety of shopping locations, and sponsorships involved in this amazingly complex industry — not unlike the reality TV shows about child beauty pageants.

Indeed it resembles modeling, but isn’t constrained by the rules of traditional modeling. Major brands and high profile companies like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop brand have negotiated deals with parents on behalf of their children.

Related: Popular Instagrammer leaving social media, citing unhealthy culture

The hope for many parents is that their children will become famous. Part-hobby, part-industry, part-vanity, it is unclear what the effects will be on the children once they advance out of this industry. The tale of where the age of “Instamom” goes may be the future, or a blip in history.