A MUM who hosted a popular YouTube channel documenting life with her six children was arrested on child abuse charges last week.

Ruby Frank, from Utah, was arrested after police discovered one of her children malnourished and with visible injuries. The child also had duct tape on their limbs.

I can’t think of anything worse than spending my free time viewing YouTube videos of other parents, so I’d never actually watched Ruby Franke’s “8 Passengers” channel. Before it was removed from YouTube last year, it had amassed nearly 2.3 million subscribers.

But I have previously come across videos on TikTok which were critical of her parenting style and raised child welfare concerns. One clip, which has been circulated widely since Franke’s arrest, shows her explaining she got a call from her six-year old daughter’s school telling her that the girl didn’t have any lunch with her.

Franke goes on to explain that her daughter is responsible for packing her own lunch and that she won’t be dropping off anything for her to eat.

The withholding of food is a common theme that repeatedly comes up in the family’s YouTube channel. Franke could often be heard telling the camera that one or more of her children were at risk of having their “food privileges” withdrawn.

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Other incidents which attracted criticism were her decision to force her 15-year-old son to sleep on a beanbag for seven months, after she banned him from his bedroom as a punishment for his behaviour. She also frequently threatened to throw away or destroy her children’s possessions.

Last week, after police were called to attend to the malnourished and injured child, officers attended a nearby residence where they allegedly discovered another of Franke’s children in a “comparable condition”. All of her younger children are now in the care of the Division of Child and Family Services.

The details that are emerging from the story are horrific and many will be wondering why it took so long for authorities to intervene.

These children had their whole lives documented on social media for strangers to see. It’s part of a growing trend of parents using their children for social media clout.

In one clip, Ruby Franke films her clothed daughter in a bathtub, as she explains to viewers that the pre-teen has been asking if she can start shaving her legs and armpits. Her daughter is visibly embarrassed, as her mum grabs her arm to try to show the camera the hair on her armpits.

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Social media is corroding the bond between some parents and their kids as fame-hungry adults use the embarrassing and upsetting experiences of their children to try to gain a following.

I know we’re in the “anything goes” era but we should manage to retain our disgust for parents who trample all over their children’s right to privacy for the dopamine hit that social media attention brings.

Franke is far from an outlier. Over the years there have been similar stories about popular family YouTubers. Irish vloggers who run the SacconeJolys channel were previously criticised for a video in which they said they used cold showers as a punishment for their potty-training two-year-old when she had an accident.

Even outside of the deeply weird YouTube family phenomenon, there are parents who film themselves inflicting “pranks” on their unsuspecting children.

A recent viral trend saw thousands of apparently normal and well-adjusted adults breaking eggs on their foreheads of their very young children and then filming their reactions. As you might expect, most of those reactions included a combination of confusion, bewilderment and tears.

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There is no doubt that parents who abuse their children would probably still perpetuate the same behaviours regardless of whether or not they had a substantial online following. But there are many others who seem comfortable in pushing boundaries and societal norms because it’s becoming so depressingly normal to monetise and exploit the lives of children on social media.

Lines that were previously defined are now becoming blurred. Some parents see no problem in sharing intimate details, photos and videos of their children’s daily lives with complete strangers.

We are in this odd period of time where social media use is widespread but the generation being plastered all over it without their consent isn’t yet old enough to explain how it has affected them.

What happens when those children are grown up and realise every single detail of their childhood is available to anybody with an internet connection?

They will be able to look back on their parents’ behaviour through adult eyes. Nobody could blame them if they decide that the people who exploited their childhood have no place in their adult life.