In today’s digital age, this concept applies to influencers and online personalities. According to Dr. Grant, children go through developmental stages. By age 13, they start to experience the parasocial effect, where they stop looking to their parents and teachers for guidance and start looking to their peers. “It used to be your peers are your friend group,” he says. “But now, I call it the parasocial-media effect. Kids are [also] looking at influencers and their followers as their peers.”

Morgan Wrapp, Glamour’s commercial creative director, says her 8-year-old daughter Lulu found out about Drunk Elephant through her older cousin and other kids at school. Lulu was always poking around Wrapp’s skin-care stash but started talking specifically about the brand a few weeks ago. “Little kids want what other little kids have,” Wrapp says. “That’s pure and simple. We’re all guilty of that, seeing what other people have and being interested in it. But I don’t think she necessarily thinks it’s going to do anything for her skin.”

Pearlman’s daughter Rose runs in what she calls a competitive “cool girl crowd” at her New York City elementary school. When she received the viral Stanley cup as a gift, Pearlman, unaware of its cult status, allowed her to bring it to school. “We had a thing with the teacher,” she says. “They’re like ‘Can she not bring it in? Because all the kids get really distracted.’”

Recently, one of Rose’s friends went to Sephora with her mom to buy Drunk Elephant moisturizer, which only fueled the obsession. “This friend has super sensitive skin and gets rashes on her face,” Pearlman says. “She put it on the rash, and it never came back. Her mom’s like, it cost me $69, but it’s the first cream that’s helped her face.”’

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TikTok content

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Both Pearlman and Wrapp’s daughters are not allowed on TikTok or Instagram. However, they both go on YouTube, which has become harder to regulate since the launch of its TikTok competitor, YouTube Shorts.

“I tried to ban adult YouTube, but I am certain she finds it on YouTube Shorts,” Pearlman says. “There’s all these influencers that do makeup videos, but for children. It’s not just normal makeup videos. It’s starter makeup and it’s how to do makeup for 10-year-olds, basically.” Some of her daughter’s favorite kid creators include Your.fav.preppy2023, Prepsduo, and Preppybycalls, who use the hashtag #preppyskincare to share their routines featuring brands like Drunk Elephant, Tower28, and Summer Fridays.

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