Parenting circles on social media are reacting to a recent post advertising a multicity meet-and-greet tour for a 3-year-old girl who has more than 229,000 followers on Instagram.
The mom behind the tour is Shawniece Shepherd, who manages her daughter’s Instagram and TikTok accounts, as well as her own. Shepherd’s announcement post on Instagram, along with the original Eventbrite page, has been taken down.
Shepherd has built a community around her 3-year-old and calls her daughter’s fans her “aunties” and “uncles.” According to a quote from the Eventbrite page from Feb. 22, Shepherd wrote, “We are dedicated to meeting all her IG Aunties& Uncles that’s has been a part of her life journey!”
One post that mentions the tour is still up on the daughter’s account from Feb. 16. In an edited caption, Shepherd put “! Meet & GREET ! What’s cities should we come too !” before listing Atlanta for March 11, Los Angeles for March 25, Chicago for April 22 and New York for June 10 or 17.
Most of the comments under the initial announcement are focused on the video of the daughter helping her mom make fried chicken. One commenter suggests Boston, another says Jersey City and only one person says, “Love her but a meet and greet for a toddler is a little…”
Content creator Sarah Adams runs the TikTok account @mom.uncharted with over 200,000 followers where she specifically discusses issues about online child safety and family influencing. In a recent upload, Adams said she was tagged multiple times by fans in the comments section of Shepherd’s tour announcement and took screenshots of the since-deleted posts.
“This is one of the most bizarre things I have seen to date,” she said. “When I say the parasocial relationships on social media are out of control, this is a great example.”
The screenshots featured in the TikTok blur out Shepherd’s name but include the same dates and locations as the Feb. 16 caption on the daughter’s account, with the addition of a “to be announced” Dallas stop.
“This mother feels that her community is so supportive of the exploitation of her child online that she needs to create a meet-and-greet tour,” Adams continued. “These parents are so delusional.”
In another screenshot, this time of the since-deleted Eventbrite page, tickets are advertised as being $30 to meet the toddler.
In a comment, Shepherd also claimed that her daughter “has been wanting to do this.”
“Your 3-year-old daughter has been ‘wanting to go on tour’ and meet strangers who follow her online because you exploit her existence?” Adams asked. “What are you thinking?”
There’s been a lot of backlash and controversy around the whole realm of parent bloggers and people who make accounts for their kids. Platforms like TikTok do have age restrictions to sign up, but that hasn’t stopped parents from doing it on behalf of their children.
It’s becoming such an issue that now bills are being introduced throughout the U.S. to advocate for minors’ rights when it comes to controlling and deleting their digital footprint and internet data from before they could properly give consent.
“Every account that soley [sic] features a child under the age of 13 on [social media] should be shut down,” Adams wrote in her caption. “The state of child exploitation is completely out of control.”
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