WASHINGTON — A Frederick County, Maryland, couple has removed a popular series of YouTube videos which show them pulling pranks on their five young children, after accusations the pranks were abusive.
Mike and Heather Martin, of Ijamsville, Maryland, had posted videos of orchestrated pranks, which often left their children crying, and visibly upset.
The internet outrage began after the family posted a video showing Heather explaining to viewers that she planned to spread invisible ink, and “flip out.”
In the video, the parents curse at the young children, with a young child crying, and swearing he wasn’t responsible.
Eventually, the father tells the son, “It’s just a prank, bruh.”
In another video, Mike Martin tells his young son he’s the only one of his siblings not going to Disneyland, because he had misbehaved.
According to the Baltimore Sun, a police report was filed in North Carolina, where the biological mother of two of the children lives. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office said since the incidents happened in Maryland, they could not take action.
Police in Frederick County, Montgomery County, and Baltimore County are aware of the videos, according to the Sun.
As questions were asked about whether the children were being exploited, the family posted videos claiming the children were in on the joke.
“Are you guys OK,” the father asks. “Yeah,” the children cheerily answer.
“Are you upset,” he continues. “Nope,” his kids respond.
“It was all a prank?” “It was all a prank,” the children echo.
Heather Martin blamed critics for inflicting negative attention on her children.
“To all you haters, you are the ones that give our children drama,” she said, addressing the camera. “You are the ones that cause us problems, and try to embarrass us, and embarrass them.”
By Friday, the videos on the DaddyOFive YouTube channel have been deleted with the exception of one, titled “Family Destroyed Over False Aquisations” (sic), in which the couple explains the scenarios were exaggerated, and often scripted from their five children’s ideas.
“The videos are fake,” Mike Martin said. “They’re over-exaggerated; some videos are scripted — the kids ideas, we act them out.”
The Martins said they posted their family videos at their children’s request.
“My kids love the YouTube channel,” Mike Martin said.
“And we love our fans,” his wife added.
In retrospect, Martin said he should have disclosed the videos weren’t reality earlier, but he “didn’t want to disappoint anyone.”
“I’d rather lose my YouTube channel and all my revenue, then lose my children, and lose my family,” he said.
Martin acknowledged, “Maybe I got a little carried away sometimes.”
“My kids love this YouTube, and I did it for them,” Mike Martin said. “And I’m taking all this hate right now, for them.”
“At the end of the day, we’re parents first,” Heather Martin adds.
Video blogger Philip DeFranco had compiled, and was critical of, the DaddyOFive videos.: