YouTuber 'Kidnaps' Boy to Shame Dad for Using His Phone at the Playground

Joey Salads/YouTube

The parenting debate surrounding cell phone usage doesn't just involve kids. Many parents struggle with balancing their tech with their jobs as caretakers. Plenty of parents have admitted that their cell phones tend to distract them from their families, while others are adamant that mobile devices aren't necessarily harmful if used the right way. After growing concerned that her husband was too distracted by his phone while out with their son, one mom called on a popular YouTuber to stage the child's abduction -- resulting in a horrifying video that is full of phone-shaming and unacceptable scare tactics. 

  • YouTuber Joey Salads is known for his over-the-top "social experiments" and "pranks."

    This video -- titled "Abducting Child In Front Of Dad (Social Experiment)" -- was made in May of 2017 and is going viral again. It seems to be a follow-up to another popular "Child Abduction (Social Experiment)" video he made in 2015. 

    In the video, Salads explains that he's doing his "experiment" to help a mom call out her husband for his phone use. "Emily is concerned that her husband is not paying attention to her child at the park because he's always texting on his phone, and making phone calls, and doing work through his cell phone," says Salads. "So we're going to be going to the park today to stalk him and see if we can catch him on his phone and try to abduct the child."

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  • Salads finds the father and son at a small playground that looks to be almost completely empty.

  • The father, only a few feet away from his son, is seen on a nearby bench, distracted by his cell phone.

  • Salads calmly approaches the little boy on the slide without the father noticing.

    "Want candy?" he asks the child before offering him some snacks. "Come with me, we'll go get more." 

  • The YouTuber takes the child's hand and leads him out of the playground.

    In the video, the father can be seen in full view of his son's "abduction" but still distracted by his phone. 

  • Quickly noticing that something is wrong, the man gets up and begins searching for his son.

    "Josh, where are you?" he calls out. He walks around the small playground, but doesn't see his son anywhere.

  • It is then that his wife, Emily, confronts him.

      "What the f*ck is wrong with you?" she asks. "You're sitting there on the phone not paying attention?" The man is completely panicked, still completely unaware of his son's whereabouts. 

    • After a few moments, Salads approaches the couple with the little boy in his arms.

      "We set you up," he says. "I saw you texting so I abducted him with some candy." 

      The man seems shaken but obviously relieved to have his son back as he clutches him tightly. 

    • For all of the panic and heartbreak the dad presumably went through in the few minutes that he "lost" his son, we don't get to see the aftermath.

      What we did see, though, was two minutes of terrifying manipulation and shaming. Obviously, it's completely awful that this father didn't notice his son being "abducted." It's also clear that he has some work to do when it comes to lessening distractions when out in public with his child. Still, the correct way to confront him certainly wasn't to take his worst fears as a parent and turn them into a horrifying reality that allows a YouTuber to profit off of them.

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      Insinuating that every parent who sends a text or makes a phone call while in public with his or her child is doing something wrong is a dangerous thing to do. Suggesting that "good" parents would never take their eyes off their child for even a moment is ridiculous. In a world where about 115 children a year in the US are abducted by strangers, it's important that we are present and aware. But it is also important that we be realistic about the expectations we place on parents when it comes to phone usage.

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