Are Family Vloggers Ethical?
The concept of vlogging was born alongside the arrival and growing popularity of YouTube. It can be described as; capturing the typically mundane aspects of life on video and then broadcasting it to the world. The purpose of this less 'polished' style of content is that it gives creators authenticity and allows their viewers to connect to them on a deeper level.
As creators grew, many established their niche on YouTube: where the 'Family Vlogger' was born. For those who had personal channels and then became parents, family vlogging was the natural progression.
There are several tangible benefits for parents who create YouTube content for a living. Such as; being with their family 24/7, flexible working hours, working with big brands and making a decent income from sponsorships, collaborations, and brand deals. It may seem like the dream scenario to many busy parents but unfortunately, the 'YouTuber lifestyle' is strategically glamorised for commercial gain and the downsides/potential dangers are often overlooked.
The beauty of a typical 9-5 job is the ability to switch off when you return from work. However, it can be hard to compartmentalise if your life revolves around creating content. Boundaries can be crossed quite rapidly when content analytics directly impact the family’s livelihood. In addition, the nature of virality today is that the content needs to be either super personal/ taboo or have shock value. This can encourage family channels to involve their children in potentially psychologically damaging pranks because they know the heightened reactions will draw in more clicks.
In 2019, popular American family vloggers’ The LaBrants’ were heavily criticised for an ‘April Fools’ prank video in which they convinced their young daughter Everleigh that they were giving away the family dog. Everleigh appeared to be in distress, and viewers flocked to the comments on YouTube and Twitter, stating that this behaviour was abusive. The family then had to issue an apology, which was not well received. We can only assume that this would diminish the trust a child had for their parents, which would result in a constant state of anxiety, wondering when the next prank could take place.
Aside from the exploitative nature of broadcasting children’s discomfort for views, lack of consent is also a pertinent issue. This is the first generation of kids with the potential for their entire childhood (from birth in some cases) to be broadcast to an infinite number of strangers without ever consenting. Imagine becoming a teenager and finding your most intimate moments being dissected by strangers on the internet from the day you were born. By the time you realise that you have been exposed, it is already too late. The risk of internet predators targeting family content for disturbing purposes also cannot be ignored.
People may argue that once creators become parents, they should ‘get a real job’ and leave YouTube in order to protect their children. However, this can prove almost impossible as there would be a considerable gap in their resume from ‘traditional’ employment.
The lifestyle created by family vloggers is also not conducive to 9-5 employment in the slightest. So, is the solution a case of waiting until children are a certain age to give informed consent? When the children would be able to comprehend the gravity of their viewership. Or is it for parents to decide how much or little of their child’s lives they should be able to broadcast? Since every parent and family vlogger has a different perspective here, we may never know where the line should be drawn.
Top 5 Australian Family Vloggers:
The Norris Nuts: In Australia, the most prominent family vlogging channel (by a considerable margin) is “The Norris Nuts”. They create skits, challenges and funny videos for their whopping 6 million viewers. They have six hit songs on streaming platforms, have appeared on television shows such as Ellen and the kids are known for their considerable Olympic prospects.
Life with Beans: Another prominent family vlogging channel, “Life with Beans” (272K subscribers), consists of a family of eight from WA. They release daily videos that document their crazy and chaotic lives. House makeovers, developmental milestones and lifestyle content are some of the types of videos you will find.
Chloe and Mitch: Next up is Chloe Szepanowski, who has been an influencer for over eight years - sharing beauty, fitness, and lifestyle content with her followers. After becoming pregnant with her partner Mitch Orval (who you may know from “Angry Dad” content), her channel underwent a rebrand to “Chloe and Mitch”. The channel’s focus subsequently became motherhood, family life and spirituality. The channel currently sits at 137K subscribers.
The Bonnell Family: Then, from a relatively niche area of YouTube is “The Bonnell Family”, who document their Christian way of life and raising their sixteen children. Videos are released weekly to their 37.7K subscribers. You will find gender reveals, grocery hauls, weekly meal plans and health updates on their channel.
Yes, They Are All Ours: Lastly we have “Yes, They Are All Ours”, another prominent family with thirteen members. Their channel produces vlogs, hauls, reviews and travelling content daily. They are currently sitting at 29.2K subscribers.