As lifestyle blogging and vlogging has continued to accelerate in popularity on YouTube and Instagram, “mommy blogs” or blogs about pregnancy, giving birth, parenting, and homemaking have been an ever growing phenomenon.
On both YouTube and Instagram there are very large communities of moms and dads how post about parenting. It’s estimated that in 2014 there were about 4.4 million “mom bloggers” on the internet.
The Positives of Parenting Blogs
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, people can make money posting YouTube videos through ad-revenue, sponsors, and plugs. On Instagram, you can make money through similar partnerships and sponsors. When it comes to YouTube, views are what matters, and when it comes to Instagram the number of followers you have will determine the amount of money you can make from teaming up with sponsors. For mom bloggers, this means an opportunity to make extra money while making content about their day-to-day lives. In a way, it allows mothers to earn money for being a mom.
Besides money-making opportunities, making content about parenting has many other benefits…
- It allows parents to share wisdom, stories, and advice
- It gives parents a fun and creative way to talk about their lives
- It provides relatable content that may help struggling parents feel less alone (most mom bloggers are pretty forthcoming about the difficulties of parenting)
- It creates a network of parents all over the world who connect in comment sections and in DMs
Many YouTube and Instagram moms had difficult paths to motherhood. Some suffered from infertility and had to go through IVF to conceive. Others have gone through the process of fostering and/or adopting children. Some have children with disabilities and require special care. When these mothers are open about their stories, the good and the bad, other mothers can greatly benefit. When someone is struggling, knowing others have gone through it before, and have gotten to the other side, can help a person find the strength to carry on.
Where Parenting Content Goes Wrong
Unfortunately, sometimes mom blogs go wrong, as there are certain complications that come along with sharing videos, images and stories about children on the internet.
As I mentioned in my post about SBSK, some YouTube channels that feature children have been having their comment sections shut down. This is because, sadly, perverts are free to use the internet like everyone else, and sometimes those people end up commenting horrific things on videos with children in them, even when the videos themselves are not exploitative in the least.
Besides the risk of inappropriate comments, sometimes the blog moms themselves make mistakes that make their viewers question how ethical these mom blogs are. There is a fine line between including children in a YouTube channel or sharing pictures of your kids on Instagram and exploiting them by doing so, especially when money is involved.
One mom blogger, Myka Stauffer, who currently has over 600k subscribers on YouTube, recently faced severe backlash after making a video (now private) admitting she “re-homed” her adopted son after deciding she was incapable of handling his special needs. The video is now private.
Because I don’t know the full story, I don’t want to unfairly judge Stauffer and her husband for the incredibly personal decision they made for their family. However, it should be noted that their channel is heavily monetized– they’ve clearly made a good amount of money from their content. This brings up some ethical questions regarding how fair it was to include their adopted son in the content, and even go so far as to make his adoption a part of their “brand.” What’s perhaps the most disturbing part of this story is that they raised the funds to adopt him from the viewers. All videos with him have been deleted since he was adopted by a new family, most likely for legal reasons. Even though the videos are now gone, Stauffer has no doubt profited from content her adopted son has been in.
Personally, I think the Stauffer’s should be legally obligated to provide some sort of financial support for the child they “re-homed” ( I question if this was even an appropriate term for them to use while discussing placing him with a different family, but I guess that’s just semantics). I think this because they have clearly profited off of his image, his character, his personality and his story. Babies can’t consent to being on a YouTube channel. For this child in particular, I can’t imagine how hurtful it would be to grow up and realize you had been in dozens of YouTube videos with your previous family, only for them to put you up for adoption at five years old due to behavioral problems. I consider this to be a massive violation of the child’s privacy, as well as exploitative. For these reasons, I think he is owed, at the very least, financial compensation. Hopefully, the parents will be investigated to ensure their other children are not being abused or exploited.
Mom bloggers who include their children in their content need to consider how their children might feel about it in the future. If their kids are old enough to understand what being on YouTube or Instagram means, it would be worthwhile to have a conversation with them about how they feel about it, or if they really want to be a part of it. Considering how embarrassed some people are by their mom’s showing their partner old baby photos, I think it’s possible a lot of people would feel uncomfortable having been content on their mom’s YouTube channel. I guess we’ll find out when the kids of these mom bloggers grow up and make their own YouTube channels.