Mummy vlogging to the Millennials
Vlogging isn't solely the preserve of twentysomethings like Alfie Deyes, Zoella and Dan TDM. In 2015, Siobhan Freegard (pictured below), co-founder of Netmums, launched Channel Mum, a YouTube channel of mummy vlogging millennials. She talks to Gary Crossing
Why did you set up Channel Mum?
‘As a new young mum I found myself overwhelmed by the experience of parenthood and quite isolated. That drove me to build the website Netmums, which became a way for parents to connect with each other.
‘As Netmums plateaued, I was looking at my teenage children and how they were using the internet in a completely different way. They were the “video first” generation. I assumed that video was still just for kids, watching funny viral videos on YouTube. That it wasn’t really for adults.
‘Then I was with a young mum one day, one of the “Millennials”. We were talking about a recipe and what to give our kids for tea. We both Googled it. I went to the BBC Good Food website and read a recipe and she went straight to a video. That was the first time I’d really seen an adult do that. I asked her “why did you do that?” She looked at me quizzically and said “I didn’t want to read all those words.”
‘We invented text as a way to distribute mass information but actually, if you can do that in video, the kids are saying “why do we need text, we can just talk about it.”
Who watches Channel Mum?
‘Our audience is genuinely interested in watching, learning, sharing, contrasting and comparing with other mums. They are under 35. But that’s changing all the time because every year 600,000 more babies are born and the YouTube generation is a year older.
‘We have 150 different vloggers. We have a blue-haired, sling-wearing, three-children-in-a bed lovely hippy chick mum, then at the other end of the spectrum you have Rebecca who is like a perfect Disney mum with a beautiful house and children dressed to perfection.
‘You tend to find the ones that are either “Wow she’s like me” or “Wow that’s a window into a whole world that I don’t have any insight into”.'
Do you have concerns over the privacy of children being featured on Channel Mum?
‘The perceived wisdom of the day seems to be that you as the parent decide what’s right for your child. You make the decision whether or not to have them with you online. Once they get to an age when they say “actually I don’t want that” or “could you take that camera away” or “I don’t want to be videoed” then that’s when you start respecting the child’s wishes. It’s their decision not yours.'
What are you views on parents sharing personal tragedies online?
‘Everything from post-natal depression to miscarriage to abusive relationships are always so welcomed by other mothers. It breaks down enormous barriers. There’s something I’ve always thought of as “the mum mask” where, when asked, everyone says they’re fine. But they’re not. Scratch beneath the surface and everybody’s struggling with something. It just takes one person to say “I’m actually not fine” and the dynamic will change instantly. Everybody then wants to start sharing and being real. It’s the brave people who do share who then give comfort to others going through the same thing. It’s hard to admit weaknesses, it’s hard to share emotions but those who do find it cathartic. They reach all these other people who throw love back at them. I’ve only ever seen positive things come from the sharing of sad stories.'
Do you have any favourite bloggers or vloggers?
‘To answer that would almost be like saying I have a favourite child. I might have one or two but I can’t ever admit it.’
Images: Channel Mum