She Became Afraid to Open Up About Her True Feelings to Her Mom, For Fear That It Would Be Made Into Content
“I couldn’t talk to my mom about anything when my mental health began to get bad, because I was too scared she’d share it online. If I’d asked her not to, it wouldn’t have made a difference. I now barely have a relationship with my mom.” In a later comment, the original poster (OP) shared that she only speaks to her parents when she sees them in-person, which is once a month. Her older sibling has completely cut off her parents because of everything that happened. Even though her parents regret what happened, it is difficult to go back in time and undo everything that was done.
“My mom considered homeschooling us so that she’d have more time to make content during the day.” This mom wasn’t the only family vlogger to consider homeschooling her kids. The Ballinger Family Vlog homeschools their kids, and they have made several videos referencing that fact as part of their content. It’s true that since their kids are home all day every day, it gives them more time to film for content, and it helps taking frequent trips to Disney more convenient to schedule into their lives. Obviously, though, homeschooling kids can have a lot of downsides. They’re taken away from socializing with other children, there is no curriculum structure, and it may make it more difficult for them to transition into college at a later age.
“My best friend’s mom said she didn’t want my friend to be my friend anymore because my mom kept filming her without permission. My mom didn’t care how upset I was.” This is incredibly disrespectful to both the parents and the kids involved. Filming your own children is one thing. But filming another person’s kids and putting them on the Internet should be criminal. The thing is that if you film someone in a public place, you’re allowed to upload that to the Internet without that person’s permission. So if this mother took the kids to the park, for example, it’s technically legal. Scummy, yes. But illegal? No. However, if this was done in their private home, it could hold up in court as an invasion of privacy.
If it wasn’t already obvious from what you read so far, these kids did not have any privacy. She wrote, “I didn’t have a single private moment. My mom woke me up with the camera on, and she often filmed right until we went to sleep.” That’s seriously upsetting and creepy. Imagine waking up every day to see a camera in your face. Personally, I would hate that. Most people need time to compose themselves in the morning before they’re ready to face the world. “Research has shown that privacy mediates important psychological needs, such as the ability to have a fresh start, recover from setbacks, and achieve catharsis,” says Elias Aboujaoude, clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. “These needs are difficult to meet if we are constantly under a microscope, yet this is the state we’re in thanks to social media.”
“She filmed us in the bath. And although she’d tried to get it off the Internet, it’s downloaded and online forever.” This is awful for so many reasons. Not only is it embarrassing for the kids, but it also exposes them to child predators. It’s actually a common occurrence that perverts will steal photos of children and upload them to explicit websites. This happens even with photos of kids who are fully clothed. So by uploading videos of your kids in the bath, it just makes it that much easier for these predators to get what they want. It’s incredibly sickening.
A Private Milestone Was Ruined By Making it Content
When girls have their first period, it can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing experience. Girls naturally want to go to their mom for guidance. But in this case, the mother used her daughter’s beginning of puberty as an opportunity to make content. “She shared when I got my period even though I told her I didn’t want her to.” I remember getting my first period when I was 11 years old. If that information was shared with 500,000 subscribers, I would be absolutely mortified. That sort of information should always be private, whether it’s your first period or your 100th.
Her Sister Was Almost Kidnapped By a Viewer of the Vlogs
One of the most horrifying stories is when the OP’s sister was almost kidnapped by a creep who watched their vlogs. “Someone attempted to kidnap my sister, and found it easy because they knew her full name, address, school, and other details about her. My sister didn’t know he was a stranger because he knew so much about her.” In a later post, she wrote that her parents called the police about the incident. But it did little to phase them. They continued to post the vlogs and expose their children. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough of a wakeup call. In the modern world, child predators and kidnappers use social media to stalk kids all the time. The FBI received 365,348 reports of missing children in 2020, when there was a huge uptick in social media related kidnappings.
“My parents are still friends with a lot of parents who vlog, who they met through YouTube. They are aware as can possibly be, and watched what my family went through. And still, they turn their camera on everyday.” Like most things in life, people’s beliefs are reinforced when they surround themselves by like-minded people. It’s part of confirmation bias. If they believe that vlogging their family is fine, and they find other people who are doing the same thing, it just reinforces their behavior even more. Even when they were faced with the creepy reality that their friend’s daughter was almost kidnapped, they had to shrug it off, because it challenged their beliefs too much. In one of the comments, the OP said that she and her siblings are all in therapy, but her parents are not.
One Of Her Siblings Attempted to Take their Own Life Because They Couldn’t Handle the Pressure of Being Filmed Every Day
In the comment section of this post, someone asked, “What finally got your parents to stop filming you both? Did they ever apologize and show remorse for what they did?” She responded, “One of my siblings attempted to take their own life. They regret it.” It’s absolutely tragic that it took a suicide attempt for these parents to finally stop the family vlog. In other posts, she wrote that she and her siblings expressed how unhappy they were on a regular basis. Now, the entire family is traumatized. There is a very good reason why all of the siblings are now in therapy.
She’s Not Alone in How She Feels About Being a Family Vlog Kid
In the comment section, someone asked, “I can’t help but wonder what it’s like for family vlogger kids and now I know, I guess. Do you ever contact other family vlogger kids?” She responded, “Yes. Some of my best friends are people I met through YouTube and their families are still online. They all feel the exact same as me.” This is very sad, but at least these kids have each other to lean on. Many child celebrities are friends with one another for the same reason. Recently, an autobiography called I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy tells the story of exploitation that this actress endured during her time acting on the TV show iCarly. When someone brought up this book on the Reddit thread, the OP said she read the book and related to it a lot.
The Parents Were Fully Aware That Creeps Were Watching Videos of Their Children
Someone in the comments section asked, “On YouTube, creators know their audience age-range and gender. These statistics are often catered to specifically keep the numbers. Did your parents know what the statistics were on that? I think people assume family channels have a younger audience, but there are some sick people out there.” She responded, “They knew. The demographic is as creepy as you’d expect.” This is disturbing. Since the parents could clearly see that older men were watching the channel, wouldn’t that be a huge red flag? Clearly, though, that knowledge was not enough to stop these parents from uploading videos of their children to the Internet for profit.
The Family was Pressured to Be Perfect at All Times
Since this mother was always filming her life, she put the kids under pressure to be as clean as possible. Family vloggers rarely show “real life” struggles like a messy house or dishes in the sink. One of the commenters said, “My daughter loves to watch âRoma and Diana‘ and I’ve often thought these poor kids must be under so much pressure to look great and have the house immaculate at all times, that it must be a shitty way to live.” She responded, “Yeah, we were barely allowed to play with the toys we got because they made too much of a mess.” This is very sad. It’s fine to teach your kids how to clean. But when they’re young, it’s good to let a kid be a kid.
This Woman Has Very Few Happy Childhood Memories Because of the Vlog
A commenter asked, “Did your parents think that sharing you for the Internet would benefit you in some way, or did they realize they were only doing it for themselves?” She responded, “In a way, it did benefit us for a while. My parents both grew up with no money. So knowing they were bringing us up with endless money was what they used to justify it. I know a lot of people think that experiences and vacations we were able to go on would make it all worth it, but they weren’t, because they still revolved around the camera. We went on vacation a lot, but I have few happy memories.”
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but money was one of the main motivations behind family vlogging. Someone asked, “I’m curious, did your parents make a lot of money doing this? Do you know how much? I’m just wondering why they would think this was a good idea.” She responded, “My parents made more in a week online than my dad did in a year from his full time job. I don’t know the specifics to be honest, but we all went to private school after the homeschooling idea didn’t work. And we went on vacations out of the country at least once a month.” The amount of money every channel makes is different, but if you’re curious about any vlog in particular, you can find an estimate on Social Blade.
As a Child, Strangers Knew Intimate Details About Her Life
Someone in the comment section said, “I always used to love family vlogs, but it started to feel really icky when parents say things like, âwave to your friends!’ to their toddlers who are busy doing something else. I think OP was probably too old when it all started to answer this, but I wonder when and how kids start to realize that the âfriends’ are actually many strangers? It must feel so creepy and invasive when it finally clicks for them.” She replied, “It didn’t really click until I was 11 or 12 that most of the people who knew me were grownups with boundary issues. Viewers forget that although they know every detail about your life, they’re a complete stranger to you. People I had just met would ask me about intimate moments of my life without a second thought. I still find it creepy now.”
A commenter asked, “If you don’t mind, and feel comfortable, would you share how vlogging affected your overall social life? I mean with kids your own age range.” She responded, “Most friends I have are people I was friends with before the channel started. Some parents didn’t want their kids around us, and some parents did everything they could to make their kids be our friends. I find it hard trusting anybody.” In later posts, OP would go on to say that she has a very difficult time trusting anyone. This is understandable. Imagine growing up wondering if people were truly your friend because they liked you, or if they were chasing fame.
The Parents Stopped Their Child From Going to College Because of YouTube
Someone asked in the comments, “Have they every encouraged you or maybe asked you if you would start your own channel or streaming? Like keep riding off the fame from your family vlogging.” She responded, “Not now. They didn’t let my older sister go to college right away when she wanted to, because her own channel was starting to pick upâ¦She is currently in college and is completely no-contact with our parents.” Apparently, nearly 50% of parents are in favor of their kids taking some time off after High School before they jump straight into college. However, encouraging their child not to go to college because of her YouTube channel isn’t very wise. YouTube channels don’t last forever, and she is going to need at least a backup plan with her education. Thankfully, she went to college eventually.
The Vlog Affected Their Relationships With Extended Family
A commenter asked, “What did your extended family and friends think of this?”She responded, “Most of them dislike it, mainly because they knew how unhappy it made us.” Later, she went on to say that it was very obvious that the kids didn’t like it for at least 5 years. She also mentioned that she no longer lives with her parents, even though she is still a minor at 17 years old. It’s likely that she lives with her grandparents, or another member of her extended family. Hopefully, now that the vlog is over, she can repair any damage that has been done to isolate herself from her extended family.
Even Years After the Vlog is Over, The Damage Has Been Done
One of the commenters asked, “I hope that things are better now that they have stopped? But they might start vlogging again once things are deemed stable. I am not too familiar with this kind of situation, but is it possible to get help? Does this count if you call Child Protective Services people?” She responded, “They’d never registart now, and they hugely regret starting in the first place. Things have gotten better in some ways, but I don’t think I’ll ever have a great relationship with my parents. And my siblings and I are still recognized in public often, even though it’s been a while since we stopped, which we hate. I don’t know about CPS or anything. They weren’t doing anything illegal though, I don’t think.” In another comment, OP says that she no longer lives with her parents, even though she is still a minor.
There May Not Be a “Healthy” Way to do Family Vlogging
Someone commented, “I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of family vlogging. It definitely results in the child’s emotional needs not being met and most of the time, exploited. I know there is a healthy right way of doing it, but I barely see that being practiced.” She responded, “I don’t think there is really a healthy way of doing it, to be honest. Because of family vlogging, I’ve been in therapy as a result of this for years. I find it hard knowing I didn’t consent to my entire life being shared online forever. My parents have tried to erase everything, but they can’t erase the entire internet. So it’s still out there.”
The Parents Ignored Their Children’s Pleas to Stop Vlogging
A commenter asked, “Did your parents listen to you at first when you expressed not wanting them to continue on YouTube or did they completely force you to be on camera even then?” She responded, “They didn’t listen. We probably told them hourly how much we hated it.” It’s truly sad when parents don’t listen to their children’s desires. Some parents treat their kids like objects, as if they aren’t capable of feeling and making decisions on their own. It’s important for parents to respect their kid’s wishes, if they want to have a relationship with them later in life. These parents are going to be sorry one day when they’re left alone in a nursing home.
Privacy Concerns Are So Extreme, She Needs to Change Her Name
A commenter said, “Maybe at some point you could consider legally changing your name to give you a little more privacy.” She responded, “I plan to when I turn 18.” On top of that, she explained that she already goes by another name in order to give herself a new identity. She also uses a social media account that doesn’t have her real name on it. Hopefully, she can move somewhere that she won’t be recognized as often. And as she gets older, her features will change. Hopefully fewer people will recognize her face as she ages.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who watch family vlogs seem to forget that these are real people. They treat them the same as watching characters in a TV series. Someone commented, “My mom (who is elderly) watches an Australian family all the time. Maybe I should let her read this… or just leave it be and not mess with the “fantasy”? The original poster replied, “I think that’s a huge part of it. People consume content on YouTube in the exact same way they consume content on Netflix so although they consciously know they’re watching real people’s lives, their brains can’t always make the distinction. Parasocial relationships are terrifying, I cannot physically emphasize that enough”
There are multiple comments asking the OP if she believes family vlogging should be illegal. She responded several times saying that she absolutely believes that it needs to be against the law. She wrote, “I truly believe no changes will be made until a child is killed as a result of their parents oversharing online. It shouldn’t have to get to that point”. Right now, it’s completely legal for people to post photos and videos of their kids online, regardless of how their kids feel about it. As long as they are minors, they really have very little say as to what their parents are doing.
Someone commented, “After a lifetime of that, how do you feel about social media now? Do you feel safer now? I am so furious at any and all parents or people that choose to share every aspect of lives of people who do not consent. Just no.” She responded, “I don’t think I’ll ever feel safe if I’m being honest. But I feel fairly safe online, because all my accounts are private and not in my name. In the real world though, I don’t feel safe. I still live in constant paranoia that I’m being watched. And I can’t sleep alone because I know people know where I live. I don’t like people knowing who I am.” In a later post, someone asked OP how often she gets recognized, and she said it happens daily.
One of the commenters said, “I can’t imagine having parents that just blast their and your whole life online. That must be some kind of mental disorder right?” She replied, “Think it’s an addiction just like anything else really. My mom grew up in poverty with an alcoholic father. She thought that by throwing money at us we’d have a better life than she did. In reality she just replaced one trauma with another” According to Orlando Recovery, Children of addicts are eight times more likely to develop an addiction. In this case, this woman may not have been an alcoholic, but she was clearly addicted to vlogging. It didn’t matter how much it was hurting her family. She was addicted to the money, and the dopamine rush that you get from views and YouTube comments.
One of the most heartbreaking things the OP said was, “We weren’t a family, we were a group of work colleagues with the same last name”. How tragic is that? Everyone needs a family. I sincerely hope that this person can become close with their grandparents, siblings, and members of their extended family. Hopefully they have some sort of support system around them. And when they get older, she can have a family of her own and finally experience what it’s like to have a “normal” family dynamic off of social media. You can’t choose your family, but you can have a “chosen family” of friends in your inner circle instead.