My son loves stuff.
He is really into shoes, clothes and sports teams and all the associated paraphernalia for those teams. In other words, over-priced, expensive stuff. He knows the price of every item in our sports shop, and will save to buy what ever it is he “needs” to add to his collection. As soon as he reaches his saving goal, we have to get to that shop before that money burns a hole in his pocket.
Recently we had a discussion about saving money, and how “things” don’t necessarily bring happiness. We’ve actually had a lot of discussions around this, but he just nods and agrees with me to get the lecture wrapped up as quickly as possible.
I was explaining that when I was his age if I wanted brand shoes I had to get them as my birthday or Christmas present. There were no trips to the mall in between. I told him that when I was old enough I got a part time job so that I could earn the money I needed to buy items I wanted.
I shouldn’t have bothered, you see this kid has it all sorted. He has a plan, wait for it…
He’s going to be a YouTuber.
That’s it. Apparently that’s the way of the future according to most children his age when asked what they want to do when they grow up.
I asked what his angle would be, what skill he would offer his audience but he assured me no skill was necessary. We discussed some of his favourite YouTubers, and while there were some skilled scooter riders and gamers, there were a lot that just film themselves doing, well, stuff.
What is a “gamer” you ask? Well it’s basically someone who films themselves playing games online. They record themselves and discuss what they are doing. My boys love a guy called Jelly, and if I let them they would watch him sitting in his bedroom playing games and narrating the whole experience aaaaallll day. We’ve had a Jelly ban- the odd F bomb slips out and really I just don’t want them watching this kid playing video games. He seems like a nice enough kid, but if I’m not going to let them sit inside and play games all day, I’m certainly not going to let them watch Jelly play games all day.
Then there’s a truckload of different YouTubers who appear to just film themselves being obnoxious and filled to the brim with confidence in their ability to walk around and film themselves being obnoxious. Some of these have a talent- usually skateboarding, scooters or music, but the main focus is watching them do things and say “like” a lot. Or “man”.
My boys rarely get to watch any of this on YouTube. I prefer to monitor what their little eyes are watching, and I don’t have time to sit there and watch people do mundane tasks. I’m also prone to feeling sick from the camera work. But somehow, they know about these people, and they absolutely adore them. Given any free time on an iPad with wifi and they will immediately go to one of these channels to watch people do things that they could be doing themselves. They will even risk an iPad ban just for five minutes of watching one of these people when I’m out of the room.
I have offered suggestions for people to admire in our world who actually do important things. They do listen, but without that YouTube channel, I’m fighting an uphill battle.
To get an idea of what I’m talking about, you could check one of the most popular of these, Logan Paul (here). He is one of the most popular people to watch on YouTube according to himself, he’s a Vlogger and rose to fame after becoming well-known through videos shared on Vine. He is a bit of a mixed bag and appears to cover just about everything a young vlogger could cram into his daily updates. He is a big deal in this new world of online fame.
He recently hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons after filming and uploading a video of a deceased body in a well-known suicide forest in Japan. Parents were outraged as many of their children had seen the clip before it had been removed. Paul wrote a sincere apology and has been quiet ever since, but the damage appears to have been done.
Now all of these people are making ridiculous amounts of money, so while I’m tempted to encourage this “career”, I suspect that there is a considerable price to be paid for this online fame.
Some of the youngest YouTubers have made phenomenal amounts of money, it is actually quite scary. The first of all the YouTubers to make it into my house was Ryan of Ryan’s Toy Review fame. I’ve written about him before as my boys used to be obsessed with him.
From a really young age, Ryan has been reviewing toys- and by reviewing I mean he opens them, gets surprised, falls in love with the toy and then plays with the toy for the pure enjoyment of his audience. And for some very strange reason, little kids love it. Ryan is cute as hell, his Mother is a nightmare and they live in a bizarre world where they stage scenes and act them out as a family.
I have no idea what Ryan’s life is like beyond the YouTube clips, but I feel like the reported $11 million he made last year is going to be paying for some therapy in the near future. Ryan’s parents have the perfect formula for making this a huge success, and they were probably lucky to be one of the first to see an opening in promoting toys and products to make cash. Smart.
Many have tried to replicate this formula, but Ryan is one of the most successful at doing this.
There’s all sorts of kids being filmed with their parents
pushing guiding them. Kids that open eggs, that dress up like babies, wear big bows in their hair, that boss their parents around and other creepy/weird scenarios. Every child has the potential to be the next big YouTuber- no skill required. All they need is a set of pushy parents and a camera.
For now I think my boys can stick with learning a skill and then using that to get a job. I hope that they will see a need in the world and strive to do what they can to help others. I didn’t think I’d ever really care what they chose to do as long as it was something they were passionate about, and something that could fulfil them and serve others in some way. I don’t think YouTube is the way to do that, not really.
So if my little consumer wants to buy the latest shoes/hat/clothes, he can earn it. Opening a box and filming his reaction for his fans just wont cut it. Not on my watch.
There is an opening for children to film themselves cleaning their rooms for their fans, for some reason that one hasn’t been done yet. I might suggest that one to the boys next time they ask to start their own YouTube channel, I’m sure that will go down well. They can clean while listening to podcasts of interviews and stories of inspirational people doing important and real things. Perfect.
I’ll let you know when our cleaning channel goes viral.