It’s time to rethink family channels

You can make thousands, even millions, of dollars just by recording yourself. Everything as routine as making dinner or having coffee with a friend can now become a part of your job. 

Sounds like a dream, right? Well that’s the reality for successful vloggers. But there is a niche of vlogs that I believe should be banned or more regulated: family channels

Vloggers are content creators, and a vlog is a video blog, which is a form of content, mainly found on YouTube. These vlogs can pretty much be about anything, such as a day working from home or about being a Harvard student. 

Within the community of vlogs, there are family vlogs. Sure, the content is very lighthearted, wholesome and relatable. However, there is so much information available to a stranger about their kids and family.

The videos also leave a permanent record of important events to look back on later. The term “exploitation” is the right word to describe how many parent vloggers use their children for views and money. 

If children are having fun creating these YouTube videos then what is the harm? To answer that question, we need to get one thing out of the way: what a child likes or thinks they like is based on an immature understanding of the world. That’s why legally a parent or guardian is there to choose the major discussions in the child’s life until the age of 18. That’s why they alone choose what is right for the kids. Let’s say that the parents ask for their child’s consent about being in their videos — and it’s unlikely that they do since the children are typically not old enough to give an informed response — depending on what age they are, they may or may not know that what they’re posting can be viewed by anyone or that when something is on the Internet, it’s there forever. 

Maybe later down the line their friends see a video of them doing something embarrassing and they will be made fun of. Or when applying for a job, a potential employer searches the candidates name and that video is what the employer sees. The point is that long term consequences are unpredictable and sometimes the effects could be for the worst.  

YouTube is technically for people ages 13 and over, which means that YouTube has said that their minimum requirement to be a viewer or creator is 13. In no way is it followed or adhered to but it should be a rough guideline. While there is no official age for informed consent, I don’t think toddlers and babies should be in millions of vlogs. 

The stress that it can put on the channel itself is a real issue. The Internet can be a harsh place where negativity can cause a person a lot of pain and distress, especially if their channel has amassed a massive following. Every action is scrutinized and simple mistakes become scandals. Issues that are meant to be dealt privately now spread like wildfire and turn into gossip, which gives more harm to everyone involved. 

 YouTube has terminated channels before. But not before parents make money off of their children. None of this is to say that all family vlogs are bad but that there needs to be regulations. All I’m trying to say is that the kids should never be the main selling point and if they are, there needs to be some line in which they cannot cross. 

Or, instead of using your children as the selling point, you could share your experiences about being a parent. It is a different approach which does not exploit the kids because they are not the selling point. 

And as viewers we should be conscientious about the media we consume and hold creators accountable if they do anything that is having negative implications of their content.