While YouTube was once primarily a place to watch cat videos, it quickly became an entertainment giant. Content creators took advantage of the opportunity to share their videos with hundreds of millions of users.
Many creators can turn their massive channels into lucrative full-time jobs thanks to ad revenues and brand partnerships. However, some of these channels, especially family YouTubers, are controversial.
A recent anonymous post on Reddit calls attention to the impact these channels can have on the children of these family YouTube channels. So are family YouTubers exploiting their children? Let’s take a closer look!
What Are Family YouTubers?
Family YouTubers are a niche segment of YouTube channels creating content that primarily documents the happenings in their family. The purpose is to provide some insight and perspective into their lives.
Many of these creators have unique qualities, like where they live, a hobby they enjoy, or a lifestyle choice. For example, the anonymous Reddit post from a poster claimed to be part of a YouTube family traveling and living in their RV.
These content creators will often carry cameras to record a tremendous amount of their lives that they’ll later share with others on their YouTube channel. The camera is rolling whether they’re taking a trip to the park, doing chores, or on some exciting adventure. The most extensive media claim to share “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of their lives.
However, viewers typically move on to the next video when they lose interest. They’re not there to see mundane, everyday happenings of people’s lives. What keeps the attention of viewers is drama and excitement.
As a result, many of these channels cave to the pressure to create drama to save viewers’ attention, drive traffic to their channel, and, ultimately, please the mysterious YouTube algorithm.
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Do Child Labor Laws Apply to YouTubers?
While the government established child labor laws in 1938 to protect children who were entertainers, YouTube is a loophole for these laws. YouTubers aren’t actors, which exempts them from the many legal requirements of the professional entertainment industry.
This is one of the primary drivers for those advocating for reform regarding laws and regulations for YouTube channels profiting from content featuring children.
We won’t point fingers at specific channels, but many family YouTube channels use their children to attract and keep viewers’ attention. Some channels generate a considerable amount of money for the parents and companies managing or creating the content. However, the children, the true stars of the channel, rarely see a dime.
Is Anything Being Done to Protect Children from Family YouTubers?
There has been a push for change in the online community. Many see the treatment of these children as a form of child abuse.
While many channels respect the privacy and desires of the children, there’s no denying that far too many put the all-mighty dollar before the best interest of their kids. Luckily, some states are taking action to crack down on for-profit family YouTube channels.
In January 2022, four representatives from Washington State introduced House Bill 2032. The bill’s purpose is to protect “the interests of minor children featured on for-profit family vlogs” who “use their minor children as subjects of that content.” The proposed bill will help ensure compensation and protect the rights of the children featured in the content.
The bill provides a blueprint of fair treatment and legal expectations regarding the content featuring children. Unfortunately, HB 2032 has yet to move past the first step of being introduced to the assembly.
How Family YouTubers Can Protect Their Children
There are some things that family YouTubers can do to protect their children. YouTube even provides valuable resources to help parents and content creators protect their children. Here are a few things you should consider if you’re a family YouTube or other content creator.
Get Their Consent
There’s nothing wrong with filming your family for nostalgia purposes. Who doesn’t like looking back on old family videos? However, it’s best to allow everyone to view any content that will be public ahead of time. In general, 99% of the time, you likely won’t have any issues.
However, there will be instances where someone might not particularly like how something they said or did makes them look on video or in a photograph. It’s well within their rights to request that you not display it to the general public. Children should never feel forced into being on camera or in any content.
Many family YouTubers get very comfortable in front of the camera and enjoy sharing their lives with their viewers. However, you don’t need to share everything.
Some channels go into great detail regarding medical conditions and reveal personal information regarding their lives. You should avoid oversharing to protect your children while making content.
If you’re wondering whether you’re oversharing, there’s a good chance you are. When in doubt, don’t share the information. It’s better to err on the side of caution than to destroy a relationship or potentially be in a serious legal issue down the road.
The internet can be a cesspool of negativity, especially in the comment sections of videos and other online posts. It’s disgusting what people will say behind a veil of anonymity. As a result, the best way you can protect the children in your videos is to moderate or censor the comments on your posts.
YouTube allows content creators to use filters for comments. Creating filters that block keywords like names, cities, addresses, phone numbers, and even vulgar terms can be extremely useful. Instead of posting these horrible comments for everyone to see, the nasty comments will go into a queue for you to approve or deny.
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Pay Them Appropriately
It doesn’t matter whether it’s YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok; if you’re operating social media like a business, you need to treat those on the channel like employees. You’d expect compensation if your boss asked you to come in and work for a few hours, and so should they. Providing them with room and board isn’t going to cut it.
Many say money is the root of all evil, and many people destroy relationships because of its power. Negotiate compensation for being a part of the channel. Because the content provides residual income, it’s typically in the best interest of everyone to negotiate a percentage versus a flat rate fee.
Remember, you are the parent. You can designate the money to an account so it’s available to them in the future for college, vehicles, or whatever they choose to spend it on. You don’t have to give them access to an unlimited amount of money when they can’t responsibly handle it. However, you should set the funds aside for them to use in the future.
Put the Camera Down
One of the best things you can do as a parent running a family YouTube channel is to put the camera down. Many people, not only family YouTubers, spend way too much time trying to capture events and memories on their phones. They miss out on truly experiencing the moment because they focus more on capturing the perfect angle for a picture or a video.
You don’t have to capture every moment of your day or adventures to share with others. Allow you and your family to have some memories that only you get to experience. Take the opportunity to regularly leave technology behind and be present with the ones you love the most.
Keep an Open Line of Communication
Even if your children enjoy being on camera, you must keep an open communication line and be flexible with them. It’s easy to forget how awkward and uncomfortable it can be to go through adolescence.
Keeping an available line of communication can allow you to hear a child’s feelings. They must know that you’re both on the same team and that no YouTube video or social media post will come between you.
Should You Support Family YouTube Channels?
Some family YouTube channels are doing a fantastic job of balancing work and family. We’ve heard of some family YouTubers who treat their kids as employees and adequately compensate them for their work. On the other hand, there are also horror stories of families violating rights and taking advantage of their children for profit.
Ultimately, it’s your decision whether to support family YouTube channels. However, a content creator’s position regarding children’s rights in YouTube videos paints a clearer picture of their motives behind creating and posting content.
Do you think family YouTube channels are exploiting their children?
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