Daily family vlogging, a popular online trend, has become a widely recognized phenomenon. Ranging from crafting and cooking to pranking and gaming, the everyday lives of young children and their parents are broadcasted across screens everywhere. As stated by The New York Intelligencer, the family vlogging industry produces millions of dollars in profits and approximately two billion views each month.
While these videos may appear to be all fun and games, they become much more distorted behind the scenes. Displaying children on a screen from a consistently young age raises issues of consent, privacy and bullying.
The boundaries of consent blur when dealing with children at too young of an age to fully comprehend social media and its potential dangers. Some children are put on camera from the moment they are born. At this age, children are not aware of the consequences social media networks, such as YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, entail. Without the common knowledge of internet safety, which is introduced in elementary school, these children are unaware of the dangers, involving the displayal of their personal and private information.
Additionally, the presentation of the majority of a child’s life on a public forum without proper consent quickly becomes a large invasion of personal privacy. Millions of people have access to these videos, leading to the exposure of private information to complete strangers. This publicity indirectly translates to peers of the child viewing the public videos, which brings up the issue of bullying. If a student views embarrassing content within a video, they could recall and use these instances as fuel for teasing or further bullying their classmates.
Parents who curate family vlogging channels often film their children daily, which could put pressure on the kids to experience consistently entertaining and fun-filled lives. Following the example of their parents, many children are led to believe each day of their life must be jam-packed with scripted content, alongside a clickable picture or title to excite viewers. If these young children are not relieved from the pressure of maintaining their engaging personalities, they will likely become overworked and could even develop an anxiety disorder.
When juvenile YouTube personalities reach this point of exhaustion and continue to experience unwanted pressure from their guardians, the blame for these events is rightfully burdened onto their parents after exploiting their children for money and views.
Family vlogging, a seemingly innocent trend meant to amuse viewers, reaps far more consequences for its child actors than intended. Although some family vlogs may only scratch the surface of these issues, this playful fun could grow into ‘stranger danger’ situations and/or even anxiety disorders. Waiting to include a child in a family vlog, until a child is of age to consent and is educated on these topics, will ultimately result in a safer online community for everyone.
By: Marissa Detwiler and Amanda Jane Whiting, Staff Writers