Johnston High School - 6500 NW 100th St, Johnston, IA

The Black & White

Johnston High School - 6500 NW 100th St, Johnston, IA

The Black & White

Johnston High School - 6500 NW 100th St, Johnston, IA

The Black & White

Fake Smiles Real Problems

Unsubscribing from Deceptive Family Channel

Family influencers have become a widespread trend on social media platforms. These channels promote the exploitation of children and should be outlawed by child labor laws. With recent backlash and controversy, the future of family channels is uncertain. 

Family channels not only display blatant mistreatment of children, but also expose children to the dangers that come with being posted on public social media platforms. 

“We live in a broken world and there are so many creepy and perverted people that if you truly cared about your child you would not put them on social media in such an expository way,” said Lili Verzani ‘25. 

The children who are being exposed to the internet by their parents most of the time have not yet fully developed the understanding that it is wrong because they have no choice. They are too young to stand up for themselves against their parents, leaving the parents to post whatever they want about their children and profit from it.

“It is extremely violating of your child as they cannot give an informed decision on if they would like to be a part of the channel or not,” said Verzani ‘25.

Most of these children will never receive any of the money from these videos and it will all go to their parents. Illinois passed legislation that would protect children featured in family vlogs would ensure financial compensation to all children under 16-years-old. California is following in their footsteps and is currently in the process of passing a similar law. 

Oversharing nearly every aspect of their lives, removes the children’s control of their privacy in the future. The ACE family has gained over 18 million subscribers since they started their channel in 2016. They posted everything from fun challenges to videos about their children and their relationship. ACE Family parents, Austin McBroom and Cathrine Paiz announced their divorce on YouTube, a prime example of oversharing on the internet showing a personal event on the internet that many would choose to keep private. 

“The social media-focused families do not take account of what is good for their children in the future, but rather take advantage of them for views,” said Adonawit Meshesha ‘25. 

Another YouTube family notorious for oversharing on the internet is 8 Passengers. 8 Passengers was a family vlogging YouTube channel that had gained more than 2.5 million subscribers in their seven years on YouTube. Recently Ruby Franke, the mother of six and content creator, has pled guilty to four charges of aggravated child abuse. In one of their most popular videos on the channel, Franke shared how she decided to punish her son for pulling a prank on his younger brother by banning him from his bedroom for six months. After Franke lost custody of her children, she revealed more shocking details about the things she had done to her children. Franke abused two of her youngest children in a very similar way, forcing them to do many hours of manual labor, often outdoors. They were also often refused food and water. If they did get food it would be very plain and not substantial. 

“With what happened with 8 Passengers it really makes you wonder if there are more family channels that are hiding the abuse of their children under a popular family vlog,” said Meshesha ‘25. 

Shari Franke, the oldest of the six siblings in the 8 Passengers family, spoke about her mother regarding how the trauma impacted her. Sharing that she did not know how anxiety and trauma could physically impact people in such an extreme way. In the photo she posted, she was in a hospital room receiving IV fluids and anti-nausea medication. There are many other ways that this constant trauma and anxiety can impact these children. 

“Well, it depends how it [the trauma] is handled as a child. So sometimes if it’s maybe ignored it may make them feel like their thoughts or feelings aren’t valid and then they might have a hard time dealing with their thoughts or feelings as an adult,” said Jennifer Whitted, Counseling Office Director of Operations. 

The people who have endured the trauma often have very real flashbacks that can bring them back to the moment the original traumatic event occurred. That can have extreme consequences in the future for the children who are featured on the family channels. Their children can be very emotionally damaged and may be unable to function in the regular world because of how they were raised on these channels.  

“We know through studies that trauma that happens to children manifests in a lot of physical and mental ways. That can include things like, heart conditions, illnesses, building relationships when you’re older, being able to have a stable adulthood, and holding down a job. So it can manifest in tons of different ways and it is different for everyone, it’s kind of based on the person. We all have different experiences. So for one person, it might impact them more physically and another person more mentally,” said Lindsey Gannon, JHS Counselor.

People are beginning to realize how badly these family channels are impacting their children, and many want change in laws to protect these children. 

“I just really hope that one day there will be more strict laws regarding the exploitation of kids on the internet and that maybe one day the abuse and exploitation will end,” said Meshesha ‘25.

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