Do It For The Vine: Why Are So Many People Exploiting The Bad Behavior Of Kids?

April 10, 2014  |  

Some parents have let social media “celebrity” go to their heads.

Nearly every day it seems there’s a new Vine, Instagram or YouTube video of black children behaving badly. Even worse, several videos of the little ones appear as if they were filmed by adults, parents at that.

From contextual M-F bombs, to more sophisticated, simultaneous air-grabbing, head-bobbing and complex sentencing – these kids are being urged to illustrate poisonous behavior on-camera.

While these parents may see viral posts as funny, entertaining and, possibly, profitable – they’re not. In fact, filming children behaving in such ways only encourages further inappropriate behavior. Rather than pulling out cameras, parents should be focused on capitalizing on teachable moments.

This is particularly true of the three year-old boy pleading his case to his mother, Linda, who, on several occasions, he called by her first name. “Linda! Linda! Listen to me,” he says in the video, speaking over her.

Disrespect isn’t cute. And, when unchecked, it extends and gets worse over time. Cursing and hand gestures get involved, and before you know it, there’s a 5-year-old girl with beads in her hair verbally assaulting others.

Victims of adult stupidity, these children become beacons of ratchetness, forever etched in the cloud. Personifications of long-held stereotypes.

As adults, we must consider the footprints we leave on the Internet. The same applies to children who, born into a digital world, have no control over their first steps. Encouragement of inappropriate behavior almost always leads to issues in the classroom and on the playground – so much so, the correctional system is investing accordingly.

Children are being watched and accounted for very early on; and, those first steps are highly critical in an environment where many of are youth are judged and discriminated against for looking and dressing a certain way.

When black and Latino children are disproportionately removed from class, suspended and expelled, why make it easier for them to be identified as future inmates?

As parents, we’ve been commissioned to guide our children, which requires maintaining boundaries and encouraging the right things. Otherwise, we are positioning them to fail.

The way we view our children needs to be reassessed. They are people – not to be exploited for Vine followers, but to be loved and lead.

Instead of reaching for our phones, we should be reaching for their hands.

L. Nicole Williams is a culture and politics writer, speaker and consultant dedicated to helping organizations better understand and communicate with women of color.  Follow her on Twitter @iamnicwill or visit

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