Couple Loses Custody Over Prank Videos Featuring Kids, But How Far Is Too Far?

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A couple who created a firestorm with YouTube videos that prank their own children have temporarily lost custody of two of them. They apologized for going too far.

But what about other parents who put their kids on social media? Experts told CBS2’s Dave Carlin there are do’s and don’ts.

Mike Martin’s videos starring his kids and their stepmom Heather made them internet stars. Their clips were viewed more than 100-million times.

Some of the Maryland couple’s postings to YouTube show the kids distraught. In one video they were falsely accused of messing up their room. The children continue to cry even after learning they were pranked.

In comments, some called the videos ‘disgusting’ and ‘child abuse.’

The kids’ biological mother Rose Hall said she was just awarded emergency custody of two of the five kids.

Martin initially showed no remorse, and claimed the kids were in on the joke.

Later he apologized via social media.

“We did do things that we should not do,” he said.

Some see it as a disturbing trend in society.

“To make a joke out of kids like that, to get laughs out of other people, that’s wrong,” Mike O’Connell said.

Many said those parents seemed to cross a line, but what about other cases that aren’t clear.

Plenty of parents put kids on social media for getting good grades or winning a game, but some parenting experts said it may not always be necessary.

“Kids don’t want to be embarrassed by their parents,” Dr. Susan Bartell said.

Dr. Bartell, a child psychologist, said it boils down to one thing.

“Anything that has even the remotest possibility of being even a cute picture of their head in the bathtub you should err on the side of not doing it,” she said.

Dr. Bartell said under age 10, keep kids almost invisible on social media. Starting when they’re 11, ask for permission before you post.

Dr. Bartell said if you put your child on social media never tag them with the child’s name.

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