Family vlogs have been a thing since Youtube has existed. The idea sounds good in theory — it is good natured, family centered content that the whole family can watch, right? It is the sort of content that you can keep up with over a long period of time while trying to connect with the family vloggers as if they are a part of you real life. However, often many theories have a habit of losing their way when we put them into practice. There is something about this type of content that has always rubbed me the wrong way — as a Youtuber and a as a mother. It is problematic, and here is my take on why.
Studies show that insecurity has been shown to be the main driving source behind sharing on social media. We should not turn to social media to feel the need for validation or a self-esteem boost, yet many people do just this. Self-esteem is defined as the ‘cognitive and, above all, emotional appraisal of our own worth’, and when we place this appraisal on our likes and comments, this can become part of a negative cycle. We can then mistake instant validation and satisfaction with the long-term and meaningful work we must do ourselves internally to improve self-esteem. According to psychologists Wilcox and Stephen in their paper ‘Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control’, sites like Facebook and Instagram can actually increase self-esteem, because of the socially desirable way we present ourselves when online. In turn, this gives individuals an increase in self-esteem, but a decrease in self-control. This can happen to any one of us; but when it involves kids it is totally different. Our chase for validation should never put another person without consent in harms way. There is no excuse to be oblivious about to the dangers of sharing private and embarrassing information for our children –especially when the children are TOO young to consent — not to mention how much more complicated it gets when sharing this information becomes PROFITABLE…
THE BUSINESS OF CHILDREN:
Sure, we do not know the intentions of those who chose to create ‘content’ for profit with children at the center. However, where it crosses the line is when children are exploited for ‘content’. I know the word ‘exploit’ is harsh and many people have really dark thoughts when it is brought up, but it truly is the only way to describe what I feel could be going on with MANY of the family vloggers creating content right now. You see, even if a child ‘likes’ or ‘wants’ to be part of the content, those feelings are based on a decision or emotion made from a brain that is immature and hasn’t fully developed. That is why LEGALLY a parent is responsible for every major decision in a child’s life until the age of 18. They alone are responsible to choose what is right for the kids, but when the parent find profits and purpose in their kids , what is right for the kids can get confused with what is right for the ‘business’ and this is dangerous.
THE DANGER + THE FUTURE
Sharing personal information for children online is dangerous enough, but when we add in the extra details of what is shared by family vloggers, it gets even more dangerous. Remembering that children will grow up is very very important. I have a teenager who thanks me daily for not sharing his life online. Even with good intentions, sharing his information would have put my child in an uncomfortable predicament because he doesn’t want it there. We can’t take back what we share on the internet. We also cannot control who views, downloads and/or uses it. Protecting their privacy is my number one priority. Not just because of the potential resentment that could happen as they get older, but for the simple idea of safety. The information that can be gathered by others (birthday, full name, address and so much more) can be used for ridiculously dark perversions that I do not want my child to be a part of EVER let alone AS A CHILD. “Sharenting” is the word given to parents who overshare personal information about their children on social media and according to Barclays (bank) it is the ‘weakest link’ in rising online fraud and identity theft. Barclays forecasts by 2030 it could cost millions of dollars in online fraud. We need to be protecting our children NOW.
When children become a business, the parent’s predominant role can easily sway from no longer that of a guardian and as more of a business manager. The child can become an asset for the parent. Are there family vloggers that have good intentions? YES, I am sure there are. In fact MOST families probably start off with good intentions. However, it there is a high probably that the parent’s morals will get skewed as time goes on and money becomes a huge focus and factor. We need to NEVER replace parenting with self-serving irresponsibility and if this happens, we need to check ourselves. I can’t truly ever know the intention of the parents/managers and this is a point of contention for me. We all make our own decisions on what we want to watch – our clicks are our currency. As a content creator who knows how much work, effort, planning and detail goes into creating content on my own, I know that it is not what always what it seems to be on the other side of the camera. It is for these reasons that I will not vlog or watch vloggers.