The DaddyOFive controversy may have settled down but parents filming their kids in controversial videos for cash is still a problem on YouTube, with the video-sharing site continuing to fund channels that focus upon parents humiliating their kids, placing them in potentially dangerous situations, or getting them to take part in poorly outlined “skits” in which they’re encouraged to misbehave for their thousands of viewers.
DaddyOFive made headlines earlier this year as a result of their abhorrent “prank” videos, which depicted parents Mike and Heather Martin staging extreme pranks on their kids that caused them visible emotional distress. The outcry surrounding the videos led to two of the children being placed in the emergency custody of their biological mother, with all of their content except for an apology video being deleted by the parents as a result. Now it’s become apparent that more channels on YouTube follow a similar formula to the DaddyOFive channel, with YouTube funding them via its ad revenue program.
An example of this is the channel Violette1st, which is largely run by a mother, Violette, and predominately features her son, William, and his various “freak outs.” The channel’s intro reel sums up the majority of their content, with it depicting William screaming in his father’s face. Much of Violette1st’s content appears to be staged, with one particular example depicting William’s father and brother tying him to a chair while they set his Xbox One alight and destroy it with an axe, though this isn’t outlined to their viewers leading to hundreds of vitriolic comments launched in William’s direction per video.
William’s misbehavior has been documented on the Violette1st channel for over 6 years, continuing from his childhood into his teenage years. In one of the channel’s most recent videos titled ‘WILLIAM REFUSES TO SEE THE “SPECIAL” DOCTOR!!!’, Violette records her son refusing to go to his appointment with a psychiatrist. “You went to sleep and you piled pills over you,” she says. “William, you have feelings… maybe that’s your problem, if you could find your feelings you wouldn’t need to go [to see the doctor] as much,” she adds, further alluding to William suffering from a mental health problem.
It’s unclear whether or not William’s mental health issue is real or another part of the Violette1st “show,” but the problem with that is YouTube doesn’t know, either. Regardless of whether or not the videos are staged, William is still being depicted as a poorly behaved child and is the subject of a variety of humiliating videos, resulting thousands of insulting comments making mocking his physical appearance and personality. Even after the DaddyOFive incident, which saw Mike and Heather Martin widely condemned but viewers and the media largely overlooking how YouTube had been funding their videos for over two years, there still exists an unfortunate and surprisingly large audience who are entertained by videos depicting real, dysfunctional families profiteering from the misfortune and bad behavior — staged or otherwise — of their children. This is an audience that some YouTubers are looking to appeal to by thrusting their children into the spotlight, and YouTube is paying them to do so.
Another channel titled Oh Shiitake Mushrooms follows a similar format, albeit in much tamer fashion. The videos are mostly recorded by a father and features his son and daughter, with the former being branded ‘Kid Temper Tantrum’ as a result of his behavior. Many of the videos are almost certainly staged, but once again being encouraged to garner more and more views leads to poor parenting decisions. In one video, son Leland is filmed holding a “homemade” fidget spinner that is essentially three sharp kitchen knives attached to a piece of plastic. In another, he’s shown lighting a fire in a bucket in the family’s home.
In a video released shortly after the DaddyOFive controversy first started to gain traction, Oh Shiitake Mushrooms wrote in the description of a video: “Daddyofive is a good channel with kids also. A lot of times we have been compared to their work.” He later added: “So, a lot has come out about [DaddyOFive] since we did this video. Our kids are NEVER harmed during our videos. Our kids will NEVER be physically attacked and they are in on any ‘pranks’ we do. All of our videos are skits and are purely for fun and the kids have a blast doing them.”
Image: YouTube / Oh Shiitake Mushrooms
While both Violette1st and Oh Shiitake Mushrooms’ content is clearly not as grossly unacceptable as DaddyOFive’s videos, they still follow a similar formula in that their profits are directly linked to them documenting the misbehavior of their children and their poor parenting decisions that, like the image of Leland lighting a fire or Violet brazenly using her son’s suggested mental health problem for views, can veer into shocking territory. YouTube’s stricter advertising policies have ensured that many of these videos are now unmonetized, but in the wake of the DaddyOFive controversy it’s questionable that such channels are even allowed to take part in YouTube’s partnership program while they house such content. By ignoring these channels, YouTube is unwittingly encouraging these parents to pick up their cameras and make their children the stars of their questionable videos.
Let’s also not forget that it was the YouTube community, not YouTube itself, that flagged the DaddyOFive channel, with popular video maker Philip DeFranco first reporting upon the story. Even now, after extensive coverage from multiple major media outlets and news shows, the DaddyOFive channel remains online on YouTube alongside a “verified” tick. According to YouTube’s help page, the verification of a channel will be removed if the user breaks the site’s community guidelines, which include posting harmful or dangerous content and threatening behavior. Apparently DaddyOFive’s videos, which led to two of his children being placed in emergency custody of their mother, weren’t considered to be in violation of these guidelines.
In a now-deleted video in which they responded to the controversy surrounding their content, Mike and Heather of DaddyOFive attempted to justify their behavior by discussing how the videos had been financially beneficial for their family, allowing them to do things such as take trips to Disney World. This is emblematic of why the existence of channels that depict parents placing their kids in controversial scenarios for views is so troubling — with them being encouraged by financial reward for their efforts, what’s to stop a parent from making increasingly controversial videos aside from their own morality? YouTube needs to more adequately outline guidelines for the involvement of children in videos, as there’s clearly still an audience for content similar to DaddyOFive’s, and parents who are willing to record it for cash.