The Atlantic

How Parents of Child Influencers Package Their Kids’ Lives for Instagram

The platform’s youngest stars owe their fame to their parents’ intense work behind the scenes.
Source: Courtesy of Mia Foos

Something peculiar happened when Ryker Wixom Googled his name recently. Instead of finding unrelated links and the Facebook accounts of people with similar names, the 8-year-old was greeted with photos of himself as a toddler atop the first page of results. A little farther down was an entry for him on a website called FamousBirthdays.com. A little more scrolling revealed a Daily Mail video of a 4-year-old Ryker attempting a magic trick.

Ryker’s classmate, who also participated in the online self-sleuthing, did not have such a digital trail. “I liked it because we just typed in Ryker, and a bunch of pictures of me came up,” Ryker said. (His mom asked him my questions and sent me a voice recording of his answers.) “When we typed in [my friend’s] name, there was only an old president’s picture. He was like, ‘What the heck?’ We both laughed really hard.”

“He came home and asked me if he’s famous,” said Ryker’s mom, Collette Wixom. Her reply: “‘You’re not famous, but people know who you are.’ And his friend thought it was the coolest thing ever.”

Ryker always knew that his mom liked taking pictures of him, but he was never explicitly aware that people actually them, Collette explained. However, these photos have led to a small amount of fame for Ryker and his little brothers, 6-year-old Grey and 2-year-old Wyatt: an audience on Instagram. As , Collette Wixom amassed more than 300,000 followers by posting photos of her sons of men’s-wear (what she calls a “mini style hack”). When she started the account in 2014, it only featured photos of Ryker, her oldest. Now the @ministylehacker feed is full of pictures of all three of her sons ; ; .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readTech
The T-Mobile and Sprint Merger Will Only Hurt Consumers
When market concentration increased after past mergers, prices surged and jobs were lost. There’s no reason to think this time will be different.
The Atlantic3 min read
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Is a Magnificent Mess
This Disney sequel probably shouldn’t exist, but it is at least transfixing and stars a genuinely charismatic Angelina Jolie.
The Atlantic9 min read
How Bong Joon-ho Invented the Weird World of Parasite
This story contains mild spoilers for the film Parasite. Bong Joon-ho never met a genre he couldn’t subvert. For almost 20 years, the South Korean director has been making movies that span every category. Memories of Murder (2003), the true-crime det