Forget the stage or silver screen, nowadays savvy parents are turning their super cute offspring into social media stars, and the newest name on everyone’s lips is Ben Hampton.
The six-year-old from Fresno, California, already boasts 673,000 Instagram followers, and fans flock to his page to see his outfit of the day posts and carefully composed captions.
Launched in February 2016, Ben’s account is the brainchild of his father Branden Hampton, a social media expert who has over 100,000 followers, and his wife Stephanie, who has 856,000 followers on Instagram.
Strike a pose: Ben Hampton is a six-year-old social media star from Fresno, California with nearly 700,000 followers
Child star: His account is the brainchild of his parents Branden and Stephanie, who are also social media stars
Fan club: The social media veterans were inspired to set up an account for Ben after they noticed photos of him posted to their own accounts were getting the most likes
The social media veterans were inspired to set up an account for Ben after they noticed photos of him posted to their own accounts were getting the most likes.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Branden explained: ‘When Ben was born, my wife decided to go all out on clothes.
‘She loves playing dress up and she just decided, ‘I’m not just going to throw OshKosh B’gosh overalls and SpongeBob T-shirts on this kid. I’m going to dress him all out.’
Ben’s account, manned almost entirely by his dad Branden, quickly gained a cult following, and now his father says the first grader wants to develop his brand and his persona on other platforms, namely YouTube.
When asked what his lifelong goal was on a vlog, Ben said: ‘My goal is to become a famous YouTuber.’
And he’s since appeared as a guest in several videos with Jake Paul (a 20-year-old YouTube star with over 12 million subscribers), a connection Branden was able to pull off thanks to his day job as a social media consultant.
Although his parents insist his social media activity doesn’t impact on his life, his mom gets him ready about 15 minutes early for school every morning so she can take his latest outfit picture for Instagram.
‘He’s a kid first and a social-media star second,’ Branden said.
Natural: The first grader now wants to develop his own YouTube channel
Guest star: Ben has appeared as a guest in several video with Jake Paul videos, a 20-year-old YouTube star with over 12 million subscribers
Keeping it in the family: Ben pictured with his parents, Branden and Stephanie
Prankster: Ben’s own YouTube videos include pranks, a cooking video and a taste-test challenge
Meanwhile, in the summer and on weekends, a videographer at Branden’s production company, shoots and edits Ben’s video before uploading them onto his YouTube page.
So far, he’s done pranks, a cooking video and a taste-test challenge, and Branden stressed that these concepts and ideas were all Ben’s own.
Despite his newfound fame, Ben is still a student at a public elementary school in Fresno, and his dad insisted that his success hasn’t changed his son’s daily routine or their parenting styles.
‘We parent Ben the same way we parented our other two kids,’ Brandon said. ‘If he’s not following directions or being rude to people, he’s going to get in trouble, it doesn’t matter if he’s an influencer or not.’
‘Having followers doesn’t change how much phone time he gets, it doesn’t change his bedtime, he doesn’t get an allowance, there’s no special purchases, and he doesn’t get any special treatment aside from some travel opportunities,’ he added.
Ben’s father was also quick to dismiss any suggestion that he and his wife are exploiting their child.
‘This is not a financial game for us. Ben is a natural entertainer and we want him to flourish and do what he’s good at. If there is monetary upside, we want him to benefit from that when he’s older.
‘The money he makes is money he earns for himself,’ Brandon explained.