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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What price might they pay?

About 2 years ago, I was looking for Hawaii videos on YouTube.  I saw that this family was there and they were on vacation.  Their kids were adorable, the parents were tolerable and they were apparently daily family vloggers.  I watched probably five or six videos and then of course, like potato chips, you start blowing through them.  (Video wise.)  Before I knew it, they just became part of my daily watching along with one other makeup guru that I'd been following since she was about 24 (she's 30 now).

The other day the dad on the family channel casually commented about how he's noticing that his son will sit and "stare at himself in the mirror all the time, even when he's crying- is that weird?"  Um, yes.  For a normal kid that has a shot at growing up with normal social cues but you guys have shoved a camera in his face for half of his life and he's three.  He's been trained that everything he does is observed and given some of the over the top stuff they do for views (which totally turns us off now), I'm sure he's overheard conversations about how they need to be more this or that for views.  For him, his reflection is what is always there as he communicates with his parents and so now he's hyper-aware of everything he says and does and has even started addressing the camera as "hey viewers, watch this"...again, he's three.  The oldest is in elementary and there has been a recent conversation that she may be getting ostracized by her peers because she's "famous."  This is only going to get worse for her as she gets older and especially as parents feed info about them to their kids with a nice, unhealthy bias against her because of things her parents do and say.  (You know how parents can be.  We've all learned behavior from our parents and it's not always the healthiest of attitudes.)  They have another child that has literally been filmed out of the womb and whenever the camera is out, it begins to dance and perform to some degree.

The other vlogger that I've followed is the sweetest girl and she had a baby three years ago and he is also very aware of the camera.  He is adorable and I love watching him but I get so disturbed when I see him fighting for screen time on the vlog when she's doing something.  He likes to look at himself on the screen and talks to it.  Obviously, he has no real concept of what he's talking to other than himself because she makes sure he's not aware that there are "people" on the other end of it.  She rarely does beauty vlogs anymore and I surely don't expect her to because her children are her life now and that's totally understandable.  I still enjoy watching her family.

But now I'm starting to feel like I'm contributing to a problem.  As I see these kids are becoming so absorbed in themselves to varying degrees, I start to really cringe thinking about how much therapy they may need as they transition into teens and adulthood.  I mean, think of how embarrassing it was as a kid when you had your graduation party and they brought out the nekkid bathtub pics.  Well, just your close family and friends saw that and that was bad enough.  Now think about social media.  So many people have hundreds of friends on Facebook or Instagram and parents think nothing about posting some seriously private or embarrassing stuff because "oh isn't that funny?" or "oh, I'm so going to remind them of this when they're older."  Those things are out there forever.  For-ever.  No one is asking the kid if they wanted the picture of them taking a wee against a tree (yep, seen it) or the "cute" video of them throwing a tantrum when they were having a bad day.  If they don't have their profile locked down, then not only can their friends see this stuff but friends of friends.  Now we're talking thousands of potential people seeing it.

Now put it on YouTube where your kid's bad behavior or awkward moment can be scrutinized and commented on by potentially millions if it goes viral not just on the video but I'm sure even in person.  A lot of these family vloggers go to conferences or meet and greets with fans and people will talk about a video they loved or were appalled by or whatever.  Can you imagine your childhood being up for anyone to comment on?  I'm not judging these parents for their decision to share their families, that's their right.  But as I'm starting to notice these social issues coming up in videos, it makes me feel weird watching it now.  I don't know, maybe I'm overthinking things but I think kids are picked apart enough as is but you add internet fame on top of it and we may be looking at some real problems on so many levels in the years to come.

A few searches have shown that there is concern about these kids having general anxiety disorder and then there's stuff like this that truly makes me think that yes, there is a problem.

Do you watch family vloggers?  Do you think kids appearances should be limited until they can choose for themselves?

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  1. If child stars are any indication of what could happen then some of these YouTube kids are going to have a tough time. I wasn't too interested at first but then it kind of hooked me as well and there is a part of like, being extended family or something that I get. But then you realize what it could be doing to these kids and it makes you wonder if it's right or not. I think people should just watch cooking channels!

  2. Growing up is hard. Growing up in front of the camera has to be even harder. I have such respect for celebrities that work so hard to shelter their kids from the spotlight and give them an actual childhood despite pressure from paparazzi and fans. Like your Mr. said, seeing what so many child stars go through should give parents a warning.

    I can't even imagine willingly putting a child in that situation. A baby or a toddler is fun, but once they get a little older they need their privacy. Putting stuff out there about how a kid is ostracized because she is "famous" - that's just fuel to the fire. That poor kid is never going to be able to make friends if the parents don't stop "helping". Leave her alone to be a kid. I also recognize though, that due to my introverted nature being on film is like one of the lesser known levels of hell and I just might be projecting my feelings about that rather than being objective at all.

  3. I have seen this same phenomenon in weightloss blggers who post pictures of their kids. No video. No stunts for the camera. Just normal family photos that they post. It still impacts the kids. I can think of one blogger in particular where the kid has really been (negatively, something is just off) impacted by this over exposure. As I write, I just thought of another blogger where the first child has (negatively, something is just odd) really been impacted. As her blogging has slowed, the second child not so much.

    One of my friend's DIL's made a very big mistake with her second child in laughing and videoing behaviors (Facebook) when the child was a toddler. It reinforced the behaviors and they ended up needing a therapist to help her figure out how to extinguish them. What is cute and funny at 18 mos, not so much at 3, even less so at 4, and preschool did not think it was funny, at all.

    I think one benefit is kids (these days) are not self conscious about having their picture taken. My grandmother, for example, hated having her picture taken and therefore we have very few. And she has an awkward expression in all of them. My kids do not think twice about candids taken at activities. They do not mind group shots. If you say - lean in - they have positive expressions and interest. So, I have fabulous pictures. In fact I have been catching up albums this week. (We have kept three sets, one for each kid.) And none of these pictures are on line, anywhere.

    I also have two kids now in professions with extensive background checks. Both have been extremely careful of pictures since they were small. They grew up (high school, college) with Facebook accounts. They are careful of their settings. And they are careful what gets posted by their friends, and post very little themselves. Now in their 20's, they are careful about where they are. My daughter for example, would not set foot in any kind of bar nor some kinds of parties.

  4. I don't watch anything like that, only because it doesn't really interest me. I've always found it odd when people do public posts like that to begin with. It's one thing if you're sending things out to family members and such where it doesn't get spread around, but the concept of complete strangers watching my family like that just weirds me out. Social media has really changed things in that regard because there was a time when people were much more careful about even letting people know when they were on vacation (or worse, when the kids were on vacation with friends, say for spring break) for the fear of someone either coming to your home, knowing you're not home, or some psycho learning where your child is hanging out with the parents far away. Now people post all kinds of crazy stuff and to be honest, I'm just not interested. Same reason I don't watch award shows or flip through celebrity magazines. I truly have zero interest on what someone is wearing, where they live, etc. For me, it's probably why I haven't done FB or Twitter...I'm pretty sure no one wants to hear my opinion on every little thing or the play by play of my day every single day. And soooo many people use it for that. It's like how narcissistic can you be? And the passive/aggressive nature of some of the posts is just surreal. The cyber bullying that goes on for these kids who are exposed like that is just heartbreaking.


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