Jordan Cheyenne, a YouTube influencer with over 500,000 subscribers, deleted her channel after she shared a video that showed her coaching her 8-year-old son Christian on how to cry for the camera. The video was about her new puppy getting sick, and included a segment where Cheyenne told her son how to pose for a video thumbnail. The clip quickly went viral and raised questions about the exploitation of children in social media videos.
Earlier this month, Cheyenne posted a YouTube video called "We are heartbroken," in which she told her followers that her new puppy contracted an illness. In one moment, Cheyenne and her son are sitting in a car, with her son already in tears because of the puppy's illness. "Come closer," Cheyenne is heard telling Christian, pulling him closer to her. "Act like you're crying," she told him. Christian then told his mother he already was "seriously crying." She continued coaching him though, telling him to "look at the camera" and "let them see your mouth." It appears she was trying to capture a certain pose to use as the thumbnail image for the video.
this is so DISTURBING what is wrong with mom vloggers omfg pic.twitter.com/krUjM5Sfit— elle woods ♿︎ 21 (@artangeIII) September 8, 2021
The video quickly received backlash, with many considering it disturbing to watch. Although the original video is no longer available on YouTube, a tweet with the clip has over 1.8 million views. "This is so DISTURBING what is wrong with mom vloggers omfg," a Twitter user wrote.
On Tuesday, Cheyenne told Today she completely deleted her YouTube channel and is not receiving any money from her videos. "I've given up all of that to be behind the scenes and extremely present with my child and get us both into counseling," she told Today, before adding that she is not alone. She noted that other YouTube family vloggers coach their children as well. "I want to be clear - I have no excuse - but I think it opened a conversation for how a lot of people might be running their channels," she said, adding that Christian will never appear on YouTube again.
"The good thing is he doesn't know all of this has blown up. This trauma doesn't need to get put on him," she told Today. "I made a huge mistake - that is all on me. I'm owning it." She later said she is "so proud" of what she did on YouTube for the past eight years and her past work was not a "facade."
Cheyenne gained a following on social media for posting videos about makeup, meal prep, and her life as a single mom in California, notes Insider. However, she recently began following the staged "family channel" drama trend on YouTube. Her controversy only raised awareness of the growing trend of parents featuring their underage children on social media and how that affects the children who have no say over how their image is used. "They are on 24/7 - and they lose aspects of being free, and off the clock," psychiatrist Dr. Sue Varma told Today. "There should be clear boundaries... but of course a young child can't navigate this. Where does it end?"