If you’ve been keeping at least one ear tuned to the zeitgeist lately, you’ve probably heard of OnlyFans.
The UK-based social media platform has become virtually synonymous with online sex work in the last few years and experienced astronomic growth with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Most recently, it’s been in the news due to controversy surrounding a proposed ban on explicit content, which was announced, and just as quickly reversed, in August of 2021.
So What is OnlyFans?
OnlyFans is a subscription-based social media service. And while it does have a reputation for hosting sexually explicit content, the mandate of the site is actually much broader. Everyone from Youtube creators to musicians to fitness instructors to, yes, sex workers can post content to the site.
Users who sign up as fans pay a monthly fee to individual creators in order to access exclusive content. Creators will often use other social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to promote and drive traffic toward their OnlyFans, which makes it a way to monetize popularity on those other, more mainstream sites.
Creators set their own subscription rates, which can be anywhere between $5 and $50. OnlyFans takes a cut of 20% of earnings, with the remaining 80% going to creators themselves. Fans can also “tip” creators, often in exchange for personalized content.
Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, those out of work across industries have turned increasingly to the site for supplementary – or sometimes sole – income. Between March and April of 2020, OnlyFans saw an increase in sign-ups of 75% month-to-month. As of September 2021, the site hosts an estimated 1.5 million content creators.
Is OnlyFans safe for kids?
The short answer? No. OnlyFans restricts use of the site for both fans and creators to those over 18 years of age. Creators post content intended to be viewed by consenting, informed adults, which makes it an inappropriate environment for minors, no matter what kind of content they might be hoping to access on the site.
What risk does OnlyFans pose to kids?
OnlyFans is a site designed to be used by consenting adults, and when used as such it poses little to no risk at all to kids.
However, kids may be tempted to flout the site’s age restriction for a few reasons.
Young internet users might be drawn by the promise of exclusive content from their favorite YouTuber or TikTok star, without fully understanding what that might mean, and may as a result end up viewing content they are not prepared for.
Older teens may be drawn by the prospect of making money on the site. While OnlyFans requires users who want to share content to prove they are 18 or over by providing a selfie alongside photo ID and proof of address, investigative reporting by the BBC has shown evidence of underage users creating accounts using borrowed IDs.
Canadian law prohibits the sale or distribution of explicit content featuring those under the age of 18, so underage users posting explicit content would be in violation of Canadian law. Child pornography charges against minors are rare in Canada, but they have been known to happen in Australia, the US and the UK when teens exchanged explicit photos with their romantic partners. And, underage users posting explicit content online may also be at an increased risk of grooming and/or contact with online sexual predators. So, it goes without saying that this is dangerous territory.
How to talk to your kid about OnlyFans
Make sure your kid knows they can talk to you about anything they may have encountered online, including content they might find upsetting or confusing. Make sure they know they aren’t at fault, and that they have your love and support no matter what.
Educate yourself about support and resources available to you and your family, should something go wrong online, and learn where and when to report unsafe or illegal activity.
Finally, the internet is a big place! Encourage your youngster to seek out content from their favorite creators—and/or post content of their own—on age-appropriate platforms, where content is monitored and more likely to be suitable for internet users of all ages. And, if you’re looking for kid-safe environments online, check out the Kinzoo app. It’s free to download and full of fun features that you can enjoy together with children!
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