The Exploitation of Family Channels on YouTube

By Editorial Staff

Avid watchers of YouTube family channels love the wholesome and laughable content. Family channels nurture strong relationships between the family and their viewers, making their content an enjoyable experience for insiders and outsiders. However, the exploitation of family channels has been a hot topic as more and more creators speak out about what happens behind closed doors.

From Pranks to Court-Sanctioned Probation

In 2017, a YouTube channel named “DaddyOFive” made the news and again put the platform in the seat of controversy. The channel, now disabled for violating the terms on YouTube, is run by couple Michael and Heather Martin. At the height of their popularity, the channel reached an impressive 750,000 subscribers. Their content? Family and kid-friendly vlogs and pranks.

Before controversy broke out, the Martin family would upload videos of their daily lives. Although, the prank videos garnered the most attention. After posting a viral video pranking their son, the couple was met with clear statements asserting that their ‘pranks’ were abuse. The exploitation of family channels is not novel on YouTube, but it is rarely met with real consequences.

In this case, however, they were set on a 5-year probation on charges of child neglect. As a result, the couple lost custody of their two children. Since then, family channels have come under fire and scrutiny on YouTube. Some claim that the exploitation of family channels on the platform should even be banned entirely.

The heart of family channels is the children within the family that attract the attention of younger audiences on the platform who are easily impressionable and can’t process some of the underlying exploitative behaviors. It’s more important than ever to recognize these behaviors.

The Ace Family

If you know the Ace Family then you also know that they are not shy from the public eye. This family has been at the forefront of scandals. The Ace Family, started by Austin McBroom and Catherine Paiz, established their channel in 2016. They began by following the trends of their predecessors, posting prank videos and vlogs to an eager and growing audience. They have amassed 18 million subscribers and 4.5 billion views on their channel.

Credit. Variety.

The Ace Family is known for their infamous intro videos, showcasing a montage of their entire family: Austin, Catherine, Elle, Alaia, and Steel. One of the first scandals the Ace Family found themselves embroiled in was seen after their video, “SOMEONE BROKE INTO OUR HOUSE…“. The video showcased Austin Mcbroom vlogging their arrival home to find their house had been ransacked. Buzz about the exploitation of family channels in the realm of the ACE family began.

The Backlash Continues

The point of trigger, however, was the video’s thumbnail in which Catherine and Austin, holding his daughter Elle, were standing perfectly over a broken glass door. People even pointed out the oddity of Elle’s hand being placed so seemingly perfectly over her face in distress. Famous influencers like Trisha Paytas spoke up about the drama.

However, their controversies don’t end there. In March 2022, Austin McBroom and Catherine Paiz announced that 2022 would “be the last year that the Ace Family would be on YouTube” in a video called “THE END OF THE ACE FAMILY ON YOUTUBE…“. This announcement was jarring, and the video received over 2 million views. However, the channel has remained active since then, and Austin recently posted a documentary about his fight.

After the announcement of their departure from YouTube, the ACE Family began the promotion of ACE Fest, which ended in a disaster. The festival attendees captured the scene of collapsing tents, overpriced food, and an overall “underwhelming experience,” while Austin called it a “success” on his own Instagram. In addition, the day’s high temperature and inappropriate rides and images caused some to speak out in criticism.

Many of the audience are children, yet the rides at the festival showcased a woman wearing a bikini. The exploitation of family channels in the case of the ACE family hasn’t seemed to stop their content or change their patterns. The internet is still eager to see their next move.

The Other McBroom Brother

It seems as though controversy is a magnet that follows the McBroom family around. Landon McBroom, Austin’s younger brother, was canceled by the internet and embroiled in a conflict with his ex-partner Shyla Walker after their split. Landon McBroom has a YouTube channel where he shares vlogs of himself and his daughter—her channel has over 250,000 subscribers and 18 million views.

However, all the videos on the channel were recently made private due to the controversies. Shyla Walker released a video, “The Truth” where she speaks out about the relationship abuse. In the description, Shyla stated that revenue from the video will be donated to DV shelters in Los Angeles. The video was posted to her channel Shyla, which has 524,000 subscribers and received 7 million views.

The exploitation of family channels is the very thing Shyla wanted to avoid, even making a point never to showcase her child’s face on the internet. Shyla outlined the entire truth of her Landon breakup and disclosed her relationship details. In the video description, Shyla stated all the proceeds of the video would be going to different shelters for domestic violence survivors. 

A Love for the Picture-Perfect Family

The exploitation of family channels has been pervasive throughout YouTube. People are becoming increasingly aware of the wealth attached to family-friendly content and what happens when the cameras stop recording. Due to the more refined direction of YouTube in its promotion of more ad-friendly content, family channels are the most obvious choice for innocuous and PG content. An audience can’t help but obsess over a seemingly perfect couple with adorable children.

Fun vlogs and harmless pranks become the blueprint for a successful channel that is harmless at first glance. However, the scandal-filled channels attached to big names like the ACE family showcase that the exploitation of family channels is more nefarious than ever.

Businesses that want to partner with family channels must do research on their content before making a decision. If an influencer is riddled with controversy and concerning behaviors, then it’s best to step away. As for consumers and viewers, exploitation in the creator economy should not be tolerated. As more creators speak out, time will tell which influencer is deserving of partnerships. Remember, if you notice exploitative behaviors on a creator’s platform, report them!

This article was written by Victoria Huynh

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