A YouTube star told TODAY Parents that she regretted it after posting a video teaching her already distressed child how to cry on camera.
In the now-deleted clip, titled “We’re Broken Hearted,” Jordan Cheyenne stated that her family’s puppy had been diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness.
Cheyenne’s son Christian, 8, was seen sobbing loudly in the passenger seat as she delivered the news to her 500,000 subscribers.
“Come closer,” Cheyenne said to him as she pulled him towards her. “Pretend you’re crying.”
“I am crying, ”replied the little boy. “Mom, I am crying really seriously.”
Cheyenne taught Christian to grimace, told him to howl in a certain way, and told him how to place his hand.
“Let her see your mouth,” said the parent and lifestyle vlogger. “Look at the camera.”
After Cheyenne uploaded the footage last week, she was quickly criticized on social media.
“Jordan Cheyenne’s video is so disturbing and difficult to see,” wrote Twitter user Andrea Russett. “Social media can be so dark.”
Cheyenne spoke to TODAY Parents on Tuesday and said what she did was “gross” and “inexcusable” – but not uncommon for people who put their children on YouTube.
“I want people to know that I deleted my channel. People think I disabled my channel, but I deleted it. I have no sponsors, no pay, no monetization. I gave up on all of that to be behind the scenes and very present with my child and bring us both into counseling. “
She said there is a lot of child coaching going on behind the scenes on YouTube family videos.
“Naturally. People are going to get on their kids’ nerves. Behind the scenes they say, ‘Do this and I’ll give you a treat.’ It’s so wrong and I can’t even tell how disappointed I am in myself. I want to be clear – I have no excuse – but I think it started a conversation about how many people could be running their channels. “
Cheyenne said Christian will never be on YouTube again.
“The good thing is that he doesn’t know that all of this blew up. This trauma doesn’t have to be imposed on him, ”she said. “I made a big mistake – it’s all up to me. It belongs to me.”
Cheyenne wants people to know that their content was real. “I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved over the past eight years. It wasn’t a facade,” she said.
The incident appears to embody greater concerns about how children are portrayed in videos on YouTube or other online platforms.
According to Dr. Sue Varma, a New York City psychiatrist, is at risk of making YouTube kids “feeling used, angry, and separated from their families.”
“They are on duty around the clock – and they are losing aspects of freedom and working hours,” Varma told TODAY Parents. “There should be clear boundaries … but of course a small child can’t handle that.”
“Where does it end?” She asked.
Joshua Barbour, host of The Dad Challenge Podcast, has a YouTube channel devoted to exposing family vloggers. His biggest concerns are privacy and sex offenders, but he also worries about children being used for financial purposes.
“These vloggers are feeling a lot of pressure to create content. So when your child gets injured, their first inclination is to turn on the camera and not hug the child, ”Barbour told TODAY Parents. “All you see are the clicks and the views. They know what brings them money. “
Cheyenne spoke to Barbour about her video on his show last week. She said she raised Christian as a single mom and her income from YouTube and social media enabled her to quit her retail job.
Barbour said he has seen much worse.
“I know a vlogger who has six thumbnails of his kid’s bleeding face,” he said.