Is 'SponCon' the new summer job?

Published Jan 16, 2019 | Written by Jeremy Knight

The internet is a peculiar place.

Where else can you find 2-year-old influencers who make more money than you?

In the world of social influencing, strange things are happening. Popular, trendy teens are cashing in on 'SponCon' (sponsored content).  And all they have to do is post an image of a product or service on social media for the dollars to come rolling in. 

This lucrative industry (worth an estimated $5 billion by 2020) can be a stepping stone to a long-term career. But it's also an ephemeral popularity contest which only exists until someone younger, cooler, and more relevant comes along and knocks you right off your pedestal. Something only us older generations can view with such chilling sobriety. 

Money, fame, and attention, paired with a perennial pressure to perform can cause anxiety, depression and myriad of mental health issues. I recommend this book for more on that... 

The pressure on teens' mental wellbeing is one thing, but what about the Gen Z work ethic?

Why slave away for hours doing a ‘real job’? As a 13-year-old Pennsylvanian puts it, with a job “you have to, like, physically go out and do the job for hours a day. Doing this, you can make one simple post, which doesn’t take a while. That single post can earn you, like, $50.” 

In my opinion, this world is worryingly paradoxical. Easy money perhaps, but it places unprecedented levels of pressure on young adults. 

You might not have to actually ‘go out and work’, but the online world never sleeps. 

Should we embrace the change, or be worried about the teens of 2019? It’d be great to hear your thoughts! 


While some teens spent the summer of 2018 babysitting, bagging groceries, or scooping ice cream, thousands of others made hundreds of dollars—and in some cases, much more—the new-fashioned way: by doing sponsored content on Instagram.


Published by Jeremy Knight January 16, 2019
Jeremy Knight