The other day a friend sent me a link to a YouTube video called “David after dentist.” According to said friend, it was “so hilarious.” Always being up for a good laugh, I clicked on the link and waited for whatever hilarity would come my way.

            David, supposedly straight out of some sort of dental surgery, sits in the back seat of his daddy’s minivan while he rides a laughing-gas high. Meanwhile, his father tapes all of the drugged-up action from the front seat, laughing and egging on the poor kid.

            Over 12 million people have watched David screaming and confused, asking his dad, “Why is this happening to me? Is this going to be forever?” Sure, it’s funny. But we’re laughing at an innocent kid who has no control over who sees a potentially very embarrassing moment.

            David’s video isn’t the only case of parents using their child to grab that elusive 15 minutes of online fame. Take “Dizzy kid runs into pole” as an example. Apparently, spinning your child incessantly in a swivel chair and watching as the toddler runs face-first into a pole is all okay as long as it’s a YouTube hit. Hey, it’s the perfect opportunity to sell some ad space and make a quick buck. Magic.

            Forget the crazy stage moms pushing their overworked child stars onstage; the new age of offspring exploitation is making a home on YouTube. Now parents can break into the limelight simply by letting the world have a laugh at their unknowing children. And by selling advertisements at the end of videos, the money rolls in with every view.

            Maybe some day all these child Internet stars will log on and be able to see the comments people write about their videos. I’m sure it will be a big boost of confidence for David to read how he’s “probably retarded” and a “moron.”

So let Scarlet take a tumble in front of her webcam or Shane Mercado shake it like Beyoncé all over the Internet. But leave your kids to their Cheerios and T-ball games without using their childhood missteps for fame (or rather infamy). They’ll thank you when they’re old enough to actually understand what YouTube is.

By Erin Locker