The horrors of child exploitation on YouTube

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As long as they’re happy in the video that’s all that matters, right? Tumisu via Pixabay, manipulated by Lee Lim

The best of the worst YouTube parents, and their unsuspecting children

When we consider the exploitation of children on TikTok, we must consider its predecessor: the exploitation of children on YouTube. Before the days of the ad-pocalypse, parents could make millions from posting their children to the platform. After most channels stopped making so much money, family channels still had a chance to rake in the cash because their content was presumably family-friendly for advertisers. Parents exploited their children for money, and still are. Every day, parents upload videos of their children to YouTube and get money as a result. Here are some specific examples of parents using their children for financial gain on YouTube. 

The Stauffer’s

Remember Myka Stauffer? Back in 2020, she made news for re-homing one of her children. Myka and her husband James had been showcasing their family and their adoption journey to their hundreds of thousands of subscribers. They set their sights on adopting a child from China and eventually found one they liked. They would later name this child Huxley. Huxley had unknown medical conditions that made doctors nervous about what the child’s actions could be like. But, Myka said “without a doubt in our minds, we knew, no matter what state he came to us, that we would love him. If anything, my child is not returnable.” 

They adopted Huxley, vlogged the entire process, and continued to vlog about Huxley’s life when he joined the family. They showed all the negative things like meltdowns and communication struggles. Huxley was later diagnosed with autism and ADHD. Then, a while later, Huxley stopped showing up in videos. People asked where he was, but Myka deleted those comments. Then, Myka and James announced that they had rehomed their son. They adopted a child, exploited him for money in dozens of videos across their YouTube channels, and then gave him away. 

The LaBrant Fam

Cole and Savannah LaBrant, parents of the LaBrant Fam YouTube channel, have four kids that they love to use for making money. Their children Everleigh (who is not Cole’s biological daughter), Posie, Zealand, and Sunday are in the thumbnail of almost every YouTube video on their channel, and for the youngest three, their entire lives have been documented on the channel since birth. Their channel first grew with the love story of Cole and Savannah, heavily featuring Everleigh as a fun toddler. Since then, people have noticed a change in Everleigh. She’s not as fun-loving or excited about making content anymore, and often looks sad or exhausted. 

Recently, they announced that Everleigh would be homeschooled so she could dance more and help take care of her younger siblings – she’s nine. People were upset about the parentification of the young girl, saying that she should not be pulled out of school and made to take care of her siblings. A few months ago, their son Zealand had a severe seizure and had to go to the emergency room. They posted photos of their son in the hospital and the ambulance. People were upset because it was invading the privacy of this toddler, but they still got 2.4 million views on their video about it. They are directly exploiting their children in every video they make. The videos without their children in the thumbnail either have a pregnant Savannah or someone else’s kid. Their income is coming from the videos posted about their children and the sponsorships they get because of these videos.

The Prince Family

The Prince Family consists of parents Biannca and Damien and their four children DJ, Kyrie, Nova, and Ayla. These two are interesting to say the least. Damien and Biannca met when Damien was 20 and Bianca was 15. Nevertheless, they started dating and had their first child three years later. They have been doing prank videos on each other for years and the pranks don’t always turn out well. In 2017, the pair broke up briefly because Biannca felt that Damien put YouTube before her and their children. In a prank video about their sex life, Biannca walked out with the kids. When they tried to meet up at a restaurant to talk, Damien vlogged pieces of it. They reconciled, got back together, and got married not long after. 

One of their most memorable moments on YouTube was when they uploaded a video called “CPS TOOK OUR KIDS FROM US | SEAFOOD BOIL MUKBANG” which shows their pattern of clickbait. CPS did not take away the kids, but they uploaded the video anyway. Their channel does feature the kids often, but also features content that isn’t exactly kid friendly. Despite the fact that most viewers of family channels are kids, the Prince Family uploads videos like “I Cheated & Got Another Girl Pregnant Prank” and “Rating My Wife’s Hottest Valentines Day Outfits.” But, they also have videos like “Baby Nova Chooses What We Eat for 24 Hours” and “Kyrie Lost His First Tooth.” 

Some of their video titles seem traumatizing to the kids like “Wild Bobcat Attacks the Prince Family” which has the kids in the thumbnail looking upset, “Mom Choose Favorite Kids, Siblings Get Sad,” “Breaking Up in Front of Our Kids, What Happens Next Is Shocking,” and “Grandpa Gives Kids a Whooping.” They’re exploiting their kids for the sake of clickbait and exposing their young viewers to adult content. They have 9 million subscribers and over 2 billion views on their main channel. 

Colleen Ballinger

This may be the most controversial pick, but Colleen Ballinger exploits her three young children: Flynn, Wes, and Maisie. Colleen rose to fame with her character Miranda Sings, even landing herself a Netflix original series. Since having kids, most of her main channel videos are about her kids. She posts updates on her kids, updates on her postpartum body, updates on her house featuring the kid’s rooms, and so many videos about her having twins. Her vlog channel, Colleen Vlogs, almost always features her children. 

Colleen is on tour right now and complaining about how she misses her kids while touring, but she doesn’t need to be touring right now. It was her choice. Her twins are less than a year old, and she didn’t need to leave them. Her twins were in the NICU right after being born and could have died. The birth video on her main channel shows her doing her makeup and straightening her hair while her doctor urges her to get to the hospital. 

She complained about NICU nurses feeding her children while she wasn’t there and said that she wanted to strangle the nurse that fed her kids while she was gone. This doesn’t even start to get into Colleen’s shows and content, which are highly inappropriate and even sexual despite her main audience being kids and her Netflix show being on Netflix Kids. Colleen’s content is her kids, and right now she’s renting a house while complaining about missing her old house that she still owns and is paying for with the money earned by featuring her kids in videos.

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