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The Arcadia Quill

The World Is Our Campus

The Arcadia Quill

The World Is Our Campus

The Arcadia Quill

Family Channels: Damaging Households since 2008

Image by prostooleh on Freepik

Trigger Warning: Mentions of Child Abuse


Growing up, it’s likely you’ve stumbled across at least one family-oriented channel while scrolling through YouTube. Whether you watched gymnastics competitions on Bratayley or gender reveals on The Labrant Fam, several names come to mind. At first glance, these accounts seem harmless, just families wanting to share their experiences with viewers. But if you dive a little deeper into the history of these channels, there are dark secrets underlying their nature.

Taking it back to 2008, a 28-year-old father of three named Shay Butler uploaded a video of his weight loss journey. Slowly but surely, the videos started featuring little snippets of his family members before turning into the channel now known as the Shaytards. At the start of his YouTube career, Butler revealed that they were relying on food stamps for groceries, so by making videos, he thought he’d be able to turn things around for the better. Family-styled videos like “LIMBO CONTEST!!!” and “HAPPY 9th BIRTHDAY PRINCESTARD!” gained over 20 million views, and before they knew it, the Shaytards had become “YouTube Millionaires” overnight. Over the years, their fame started to dial down, until early 2017, when Butler was exposed having an online affair with a younger woman.

Starting a family channel and later getting into a scandal might’ve been a mere coincidence under those circumstances, but unfortunately, there are plenty of other examples of problematic behavior from parents of these families.

A channel in particular that has recently resurfaced on social media is the controversial 8 Passengers, featuring Ruby and Kevin Franke along with their six children. Similarly to Shaytards, the account featured “coming of age” videos, like the kids’ first day of school and moments from everyday life. However, viewers started to grow suspicious of the way Ruby Franke would treat her children. Some of the most outrageous instances include sending her 14-year-old son, Chad, to a Wilderness Therapy camp, which are notorious for ineffective practices and traumatizing teens who attend. Another incident of this nature was when Evie, her 6-year-old daughter, forgot to pack her own lunch for kindergarten. Even after the preschool called to inform Franke that her child needed to eat, the mother insisted that it was a proper punishment for the child’s lack of responsibility to pack her lunch. It became incredibly disheartening when fans began to notice that whenever Evie seemed overwhelmed, she tended to find comfort in the oldest daughter, Shari, instead of seeking out her own mother. Adding onto the blatant disregard Franke had for her children’s comfort and safety, she sparked controversy by posting intimate moments of her older daughters’ lives, such as filming their first time shopping for bras and getting their period. 

Years went by, and after being involved in many child abuse scandals, Franke decided to take a break from vlogging in early 2022. It wasn’t until recently that viewers finally got an update on the family. On Aug. 30, the Santa Clara-Irvins Public Safety Department got a call about a child who needed their help. The child in question ended up being Franke’s 12-year-old son, Russell, who was bound by the wrists and ankles in duct tape. The malnourished boy managed to escape his home that day by squeezing through a window and reporting to a neighbor. When the officers arrived at the scene, it appeared that the now 10-year-old Evie was found in similar conditions. Later that day, Ruby Franke was arrested in Southern Utah on charges of child abuse.  

Even if their cases aren’t as extreme as the Franke family’s, something many of these family channels have in common is overlooking their child’s happiness at the expense of a view or like. We see this in many families, a popular example being the LaBrant Fam who got backlash after an April Fools’ prank went too far. On Apr. 1, 2019, the family posted a video where they told their viewers they would prank their 6-year-old daughter, Everleigh, telling her that they had to give her dog away. According to the parents, it was meant to be a light-hearted joke, until Everleigh burst out in tears. Instead of consoling her or revealing that it was a lie, Cole LaBrant, the father, kept filming the child even as she continued to cry about it. Even after they told Everleigh it was a prank, she was clearly still upset. At the end of the video, Savannah LaBrant, the mother, reassured viewers, expressing that “[Everleigh] cried for like two minutes and she’s the happiest kid ever now, we prank each other all the time.” Immediately, the video caught media attention and despite what Savannah stated, the family still received criticism for distressing their daughter. 

At the end of the day, families come in all shapes and sizes, and every dynamic is different. Although some may genuinely enjoy filming their life on social media or being influencers, my personal take is that family channels are damaging family relationships.



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