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  • Rachel Ulatowski

Yawi Family/Tannerites: Why Parents Need To Stop Monetizing Their Kids' Distress

Updated: Jul 30

"Azbury is puking right now," the vlog opens with a panicky teenage girl talking to her parents on Facetime. "We were at the park and he was swinging... and fell backwards and hit his head." The video titled, "HURRY home Mommy! Az Needs To Go To The Emergency Room!" was posted to Yawi Vlogs' channel in 2019 and documents their then 7-year old son's trip to the emergency room after suffering a very scary head injury. As the girl frantically Facetimes her parents, who were away on a couple's retreat, imploring them to come home, the video camera pans to Az in a fetal position on the floor. The vlog ends with parents, Johnny and Sarah, rushing a barely conscious Az to the ER and "praying for a miracle." Azbury, while suffering a concussion, didn't face any serious complications and recovered well. However, the 2019 vlog garnered the Yawi family a staggering 11 million views and is the 2nd most viewed vlog on their channel. Their monetized channel and reliance on YouTube income, means that the family profited from their young son's scary injury.


Who Are The Yawi/Tannerites Family?

The Tanner family, also known as the Yawi Family (acronym for Your Are Worth It) or Tannerites family, began their YouTube channel The Tannerites in 2015. The family consists of parents, Johnny and Sarah, and their seven children - Branson, Allie, Daniell, Savannah, Lizzie, Az, and Canyon. The Tanners started their channel in 2015 to document and cherish their lives after Sarah beat cancer. In 2018, the family started a second channel, Yawi Vlogs, which would become their primary vlogging channel. The Tannerites was then transformed into a solely children's channel that features the Yawi kids partaking in skits and games. While a lot of YouTube family vloggers have been experiencing a decline in views and subscribers, the Yawi and Tannerites' channels have truly exploded in recent years. Between the two channels, the Tanners boast almost 6 million subscribers total.


What's Their Story?


Like many Utah-based family vloggers, the Tanners belong to the Church of The Latter Day Saints. However, Johnny and Sarah are a bit unconventional in that their first son, Branson, was born out of wedlock when they were 17-years old. The two later eloped and began raising their family in the traditional LDS way. Today, oldest son Branson is married and expecting a child with his wife, Mara. Oldest daughter Allie is set to move to Florida and begin working at Disney World soon. Second oldest daughter, Daniell, recently graduated from cosmetology school. The four youngest children, Savannah, Lizzie, Az, and Canyon, are currently homeschooled by their parents. The family's slogan and the phrase that they close out every vlog with has always been "You are worth it."


Exploiting Their Children's Pain


In many ways, the Tanners strive to make their vlogs meaningful and uplifting. From capturing raw and tender parenting moments, to reminding viewers of their worth, their vlogs seek to speak to viewers. However, the Tanners have also fallen into a trap common to family vloggers: the desire to get views at all costs. While the happy family vibe gets decent views, their kids' sicknesses and injuries create the drama and suspense that garners more views. In fact, the Yawi family has become one of the worst family vloggers when it comes to documenting their children's lowest moments. Hundreds of vlogs on their channel have titles or thumbnail blurbs of "Cut His finger," "Needs Stiches," "Bit By A Dog," "Sick On Vacation," "Sick And Slept On The Bathroom Floor," "Please Don't Throw Up," "She Threw Up," "Help Me Mommy," "My Sister Is Very Sick," "Burned On The Oven," and "Slipped And Fell Down Hard." Meanwhile, one can imagine the thumbnails that accompany such titles: a child in a fetal position on the floor, a child clinging to the bathroom toilet, a sick child conked out in bed with a puke bowl next to them, a lethargic child with tissue stuffed up their nose, tear-streaked faces, and bloodied hands. One doesn't have to watch the Yawi Vlogs long before a pattern becomes recognizable: filming their children sick, injured, or in distress is a weekly occurrence on their channel.


Embarrassing and Disrespecting Their Kids


When not filming the kids in pain or distress, they are usually filming very personal and private moments. In one video, youngest son, Canyon, whines and then begins to outright scream when Johnny continually pushes the camera in his face as he tries to nap. Another shocking video shows Canyon swimming in a decorative fountain in his clothes during an outing, something he certainly should not be doing but that his family encourages for the vlog. Whenever their children throw tantrums, break rules, or are in a bad mood, the vlogging camera is never far away. Meanwhile, oldest daughter, Allie, was featured in a literal series of videos on her period journey. Every cramp and every doctor visit was carefully documented. At 17-years old, Allie experienced her period later than some, which the family made sure to broadcast to the world. Similarly, Savannah's period was also broadcast to the world, as she announced it with a pale face and shaking hands to the camera. In another vlog, the entire family crowds into a tiny bathroom to surround Lizzie as she shaves her armpits for the first time and as Sarah narrates about her puberty. Thus, exists a whole other genre within the Yawi family of intimate discussions and broadcasting of private and vulnerable moments such as periods, shaving, puberty, crushes, lactose intolerance, allergic reactions, tantrums, and bad days.


Not Everything Belongs On The Internet


Family vloggers are popular because they are real. Viewers love watching daily vloggers because they get to see what a real, happy, loving family looks like. However, it is easy to get carried away and there certainly is such a thing as being too real. The Yawi family has no limit to the amount of content they can produce. They have frequent family vacations, get-togethers, birthday celebrations, housing projects, ranching projects, and updates on all their kid's doings. They have endless footage of their kids playing, their kids showing off their art and toys, even of the kids' good-natured bickering and teasing. Johnny and Sarah have plenty of deep talks, words of encouragement, and life updates to give to viewers. There truly isn't any need for the constant exploitation of their children's pain, when they have so many other non-controversial, uplifting, and happy moments that they could be sharing instead. The bottom line is - not everything belongs on the internet. No child puking and laying on the bathroom floor should have their flushed, pained face plastered over the internet to be viewed by millions. No parent, when rushing their child with a head injury to the ER, should even be capable of thinking to have the camera rolling the whole time. No teenager should have her period story on the internet to be viewed by her entire high school. No child should have the worst day of their life made into a video to attract unsympathetic views from people looking for drama.


Why Isn't The Yawi Family Demonetized?


The biggest question regarding this family, is why are they still on the internet? Back in 2017, multiple vlogging families had their channels demonetized, and even deleted, as YouTube cracked down on any videos depicting children being embarrassed, injured, or in danger. Bonnie Hoellein was one vlogger temporarily demonetized and she shared a video shedding light on why family vloggers were being targeted. It turns out, all the family's who were demonetized had videos showing their kids throwing tantrums, kids being hurt, showed blood in thumbnails and vlogs, or showed their kids in embarrassing or dangerous situations. Unfortunately, the crackdown didn't last and many vloggers have reverted back to sharing exploitative videos of their children. It's a shame, though, that YouTube has not taken more initiative in stopping this. The fact that a parent, not knowing if their son's life is in danger after a head injury, could even think to film a trip to the ER with their barely conscious child is very sad. It shows the way that vlogging can become more important to a family than ensuring their children are safe or from ensuring that they are able to live a single moment without having the camera on. However, what is even sadder is that a family can gain 11 million views and be paid for showing their child's painful plight to the ER and that there are no sanctions in place to bar that. While the Yawi family's incidents have been accidental, it is a very dangerous thing for other individuals to witness and to get the idea of gaining money from a child's pain.

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