YouTube is currently right in the middle of a huge clean-up operation. Family channels showing kids are being closely scrutinised and a lot of them de-monetised as a result. Big channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers haven’t even escaped the net. It seems YouTube are not discriminating at all (I feel like staff are anonymously reviewing videos without being allowed to see that channel’s stats but that’s a hunch of mine) and no channel big or small is escaping the net. The things is that the net is very, very, wide and videos are being banned for much less than you might think. A child crying or being shown to be in distress for example. Most of the creators I’ve seen are incredulous as to why their channel would have been affected. A few of them I knew right away that I had seen videos of theirs that were not quite right.
On my personal blog, I had to think long and hard about what my rules were going to be before starting it. I felt like I was very careful about what I post about my children. I don’t use their real names for instance; this is in hopes that anything I write about them may not be easily found in a search of their names. I don’t post photos of them in the bath, or publicly shame them about things. These are the rules I have tried to think about when sharing our lives with an audience of unknown people. The new guidelines for vids on YouTube has really got me thinking, at what point does it all become exploitative? Is it below a certain age, or as long as you are not making money from your content? For me, I’ve drawn the line at wanting views.
My blog started out of a desire to be identified and feel a belonging. When I found the online blogging community I became completely engrossed in it. Here were a plethora of other women living similar lives to me, hundreds and hundreds of them in fact. The details differ, working mums, older kids, larger families etc. but essentially similar lives and life stages. Everyone posting, writing and commenting and supporting each other in sharing their stories; I jumped right in feet first. I still really love being a part of the blogging community. A few posts scrolled past my eyes about whether to share pics of your kids or not. I read them, well balanced pieces, didn’t feel too offended and moved on. Deep down though, I knew they had struck a chord.
Earlier this year I read a brilliantly brave post by another blogger about her experience of the sourer side of the mummy blogging world when she attended a very well-known blogging conference. As I had suspected anyway, it highlighted to me that there definitely is a dog-eat-dog side of things. We all want to be successful bloggers but this was another moment where I thought about how our blogs are our businesses and whether or not our children should really be included as part of that.
I didn’t feel as if I was specifically posting vids and pics of my children to gain views. They are on the videos and my Instagram but as the biggest part of my life that is inevitable. My blog is all about being a stay at home mum! I thought their images were a part of the bigger picture, a picture which fundamentally is about my life as a mum.
There are many blogger/vloggers I really admire who show lots of beautiful photos of their kids. One in particular captures the bond between her oldest girls so wonderfully and I’m not sure that would be possible if it weren’t for showing pictures of them. Another huge blogger shows pictures of her and her children that make us all feel like our bad days are normal. I can see why our kids are such a big part of this thing called blogging but my barrier ‘go no further’ sign smacked me in the face. It was the simple realisation of how obsessed I have become with viewer numbers.
I’ve never posted anything of them to get views, it’s always from a standpoint of a shared experience. For example, I joined in with the snow pictures this week posting a lovely video of Beg being excited, but then did I check my views? Absolutely! So then, I am hoping people watch or like off the back of my kids just doing their general normal lives and that is not my decision to make, it should be theirs. I do not own their image. I want to share my kids’ life and I want to feel a part of something but I want it to be their informed consent and not just mine. And I say informed consent because my 7 yr old loves being on YouTube, she used to film clips on her dad’s old phone pretending she had a YouTube channel for months before I set her up with her own channel. But she is still so little, and has no idea how public or how far those videos can get. I have been super strict with her channel carefully editing and not promoting at all but is it enough?
There is a new generation coming up who are obsessed with YouTube. They are watching creators on there more than TV or films. There are huge changes afoot in media production and design that when these kids are older it will be the norm to have your own channel.
For now though, I am choosing to change the way I do things and I am excited about it. For my channels and blog, it means some changes of content until the kids are older at least and decide for themselves. There will no doubt be a few weeks of almost posting pics of them that came out really good and squirming that I can’t share them. There will be less liking other similar accounts in the hope they like mine; and for me, a slap in the face about how futile the time has been spent ‘building a following’. There is a release of the need for outside recognition and endorsement and a freedom to enjoy writing my blog or edit family videos for my own gratification and nobody else’s. And giant massive long blog posts like this one, apparently!
It’s really not a case of this opinion being a more enlightened one. It is just that; an opinion. We are each made up of our experiences and my way of reframing my thinking on this may be linked to my life experiences. Your views will be linked to yours. Every life is different, every child is different, every set of circumstances is different and I respect that and this post is not meant to make you feel guilty or wrong. I’m writing this post because I read others like it and they struck a chord with me and I think that chord has been twanging away in the background since. Just a different perspective.
Here are a couple of my peers’ awesome blogs that don’t show images of their kids faces if you want to have a look:
Cardiff Mummy Says
Beyond the playground