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The Student News Site of Dyer County School High School

Tribal Media

The Student News Site of Dyer County School High School

Tribal Media

Literary Corner

The Exploitation of Family Vloggers and Influencers

Mother%2C+father+and+son+bloggers+shooting+video+content+for+live+streaming+broadcast+social+media+networking+concept.+Freelancer+creates+family+live+blog.+Flat+Art+Vector+illustration
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Mother, father and son bloggers shooting video content for live streaming broadcast social media networking concept. Freelancer creates family live blog. Flat Art Vector illustration

In the world of family vlogging, the topic of children’s exploitation is a complex and controversial issue. Some argue that it can negatively impact children’s privacy, well-being, and development. In contrast, others see it as a way for families to bond and earn a generous and reliable income. However, it is important to recognize that these vlogs and pages can sometimes cause more harm than good. Parents seeking wealth and fame may ultimately rob their children of privacy and expose them to potential dangers on the internet.
In recent years, the rise of family vlogs and social media influencers has brought attention to the potential risks and consequences for the children involved. One of the main concerns is the violation of privacy and consent. Parents may unintentionally expose personal information, images, and videos of their children without considering the long-term impact or seeking their consent. This lack of control over their own digital footprint can have lasting effects on their lives. According to the Fordham Undergraduate Law Review, a specific example of this can be seen on The ACE Family channel on YouTube in a video titled “WE DID NOT WANT TO DO THIS!”. In this video the parents overseeing this channel include a clip of their then two-year-old daughter partially undressed, crying while a doctor examines her with a stethoscope. The child featured in this video was clearly in a state of distress and in need of her parents to be there with her to help calm her instead of filming this fragile moment.
Another aspect to consider is the issue of online safety. Children featured in family vlogs and social media pages are exposed to a wide audience, including potential online predators. This resultantly puts their safety and well-being at risk. Four-year-old TikTok star, wren.eleanor, is a chillingly accurate example of this issue. Wren’s account is run by her mother, Jacquelyn, who posts videos of her daughter doing seemingly cute and innocent things, but when you take a closer look at the profiles following the account you will find that an alarming amount of them are grown men who follow many similar accounts. You may also find that videos of Wren wearing something such as a bathing suit “get more likes and saves than some of Wren’s other videos” (Dickson). What’s even more unfortunate is that Wren’s mother knows that this sort of content is the most popular, and continues to post similar videos that can and will expose her daughter to the wrong kind of people.
Monetization is another factor that comes into play. Some family vlogs and social media pages may exploit children for financial gain. This can involve excessive exposure, invasive filming, and pressure to perform for the camera. In addition to this, the children featured on these channels oftentimes do not see any of the profit that they have earned even though they are putting in serious work day after day. These children spend most of their time behind a camera doing whatever it is their parents tell them. As claimed by the New York Times “They’re being told how to act and told what to say and do” and nothing can be done to protect these impressionable kids because there are currently no laws in place to prevent them from being exploited by the adults they are supposed to be able to trust.
The impact on a child’s mental health is also a significant consideration. Growing up in the public eye can lead to stress, anxiety, and identity issues. Constant scrutiny, comparison, and pressure to maintain a certain image can take a toll on their well-being. A specific example of this would be the children featured on the YouTube channel DaddyOFive. This channel in particular mainly consisted of “prank videos” where the parents would prank their kids, but sometimes they took it too far. One prank in particular required the three older siblings to “beat” their two younger siblings with toys that had been stolen from them. This resulted in a dramatic outburst where one of the children exclaimed, “I want to kill myself. You guys are making everything horrible for me” (Talukdare). Even though this child is young this claim should be taken very seriously by the parents, but instead of seeking help for their child, they posted their breakdown online for nearly one million people to see and judge.
Not only is mental abuse a note-worthy factor but physical abuse is also a serious issue when it comes to some family vloggers. One instance in particular involves the YouTube family vlog channel, 8 Passengers. This channel was run by Ruby Franke, the children’s mother, and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt. The content posted often consisted of videos of their “normal” everyday life, but hidden behind the cameras was the sinister truth that the children were being severely abused. Franke has confessed in written journals that she believed that her son was possessed by the devil and to “save him” she would hold his head under running water while “closing off his mouth and nose with her hands” (CBS News). Unfortunately, this was only one of many instances of the Franke children being mistreated. When the youngest Franke son finally escaped the home he was found at a neighbor’s front door with “his wrists and ankles wrapped in duct tape that covered open wounds” (Miller & Harkins). The two children who were rescued from the home were severely malnourished and weary of social interaction. Franke and Hildebrandt have both pled guilty to their crimes and will be serving at least for years in prison for what they have done.
Some individuals may believe that documenting their family’s everyday life can be beneficial. And yes, some vlogs and social media pages do indeed have the potential to be relatable for new parents as well as calm their nerves about being imperfect in their roles, but these online families make their lives seem far from imperfect. They live lavish lifestyles with the “perfect” spouse and children, causing others to want to be just like them, repeating the cycle once again. But one fact rises above the rest, children are suffering at the hands of their own parents, and all for selfish reasons such as fame and money. We need to realize that all of the situations discussed were one hundred percent preventable and should not have happened in the first place. Actions must be put in place to prevent further harm.

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About the Contributor
Chloe Strayhorn, Photographer, Journalist
I'm Chloe Strayhorn, I'm a junior at DCHS. I enjoy photography, reading, and writing in my free time. I mostly enjoy thrillers and historical media as well as drama. In the future, I plan to go to college to pursue a career in teaching where I will continue photography as a hobby.

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