Family Vlogging Should Crash and Burn

Jade Augustine

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You’ve probably come across a few family vloggers during your time on YouTube.

They often have cutesy intros that show their family, listing their kids’ names and have catchy music to go along with it. You’ll find that these accounts often use clickbait in their titles to garner more and more attention for their family — and yes, more money.

While these channels may seem innocent enough at first, these channels are often nothing but child exploitation.

The kids in these families often grow up online. Their lives are often documented online from the moment their mother finds out that she’s pregnant. Then, multiple times a week, the child wakes up to find a camera in their face and realizes today will be another vlogging day.

This routine will seem normal to the child when that’s all that they grow up knowing. Some mothers make accounts for their children to post photos and videos and document moments — this means that children can have a humungous following before they even reach the age of 13, the minimum age to have a YouTube or Instagram account.

Children cannot consent to this lifestyle. Children cannot agree to have their personal information online. Their parents are making this decision for them, and it can have long-term consequences. Suppose that their friends at school find out that their family has a vlog and finds videos of your child in the bath as a toddler or learning to potty train. This may be highly embarrassing later on, and it can cause social issues in school. Their friends’ parents may discover the YouTube channel and not allow their child over at the house out of fear of their child being used for content without their knowledge or consent.

Later down the line, a child made famous from family vlogging may struggle to get a job or get into college since their name is plastered online for anyone to look up.

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Some notorious YouTube families have gone as far as filming having the birds and the bees talk with their young daughters, sharing their kids’ new boyfriends or girlfriends, and some have shared their child’s first periods online and filmed bra shopping escapades. These moments should be private and not shared with the entire world, but instead, anyone with an internet connection has access to these moments since they can bring in the views, and thus, the family can make money off of it.

Since family vlogging is relatively new, we don’t know the long-term effects that having a camera in your face day after day filming your life as you grow up can have on a person who grows up in that environment.

The children may look happy now when their family can afford to take them to Disneyland every other month, but you don’t know what happens behind the scenes. What if the child doesn’t want to film that day? What if the child doesn’t want something shared online, but their parents tell them it isn’t their choice and do it anyway? These are things that have happened and do happen with family vloggers.

When your life is shared online, you are subject to public scrutiny whether you want it or not. And if you’re a child, you are under scrutiny without really being able to consent or understand the reality of what that will mean for you later on.

At first, you may think this is similar to child acting, but the reality is, it’s wildly different. Child actors get to keep a percentage of their earnings until adulthood that their parents cannot tap into. Child actors have strict regulations for how many hours they can work, the environment they can do school in, and what times of day they can work. That isn’t the case for the children who are featured on family vlogging channels. As of 2022, the children featured do not even make money from their image being used in the videos their parents post on their YouTube channels.

Yet, even if the parents realize what they’re truly doing to their kids, many simply won’t care or know how to stop because family vlogging is a very lucrative business. They may not have any other options for a job since vlogging is all that they know. The money is good, and a traditional job may not give them the amount they bring in from filming their families day in and day out.

Then there’s the safety issue. When these families put so much of their lives online, it is easy for predators to watch these videos and find inappropriate enjoyment out of these families’ private moments. In particular, one family vlogger posted so much online that a fan could find her and her family on vacation.

There is little help for these kids that are in the public eye.

Though in early 2019, YouTube removed the comment section from most channels that feature children to protect minors’ privacy, yet in 2022, most accounts that feature children seem to have the comments turned on again.

Yet, whether or not comments are involved, as long as creators can still make money off of exploiting their children online, family vloggers will still exist, and children will not have proper protection.

There is nothing wrong with someone wanting to document their life and remember special moments with their families, but child exploitation cannot continue to be considered normal or mere entertainment. There are plenty of ways to make content without shoving a camera in a child’s face day in and day out.

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Jade Augustine is a writer from Fort Collins, Colorado. She is passionate about cats, dogs, entertainment, vegan food, and traveling.

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