I’m not really sure how my girls aged 5 and 3 got started on YouTube. I’m not a massive user and my husband has no clue. Out of the blue the eldest (who was 3 at the time) found the YouTube app on my iPad and started watching it. I can feel some of you cringing with horror already. Some of you will be thinking “you let a 3 year old on YouTube unsupervised? Imagine what she could have seen!!!”. And then there are others reading this who will be thinking “what sort of lazy parent lets their child on a device at such an age. That’s digital babysitting at its best!”. Yes Lisa Wilkinson, I am one of those crazy parents who allows a child under five to access my iPad.
Then some of you reading will know exactly what I’m talking about when it comes to this YouTube phenomenon. I’n not writing this to ignite the debate about whether you agree with my decision to allow my kids screen time, I’m writing this about the funny things that kids are watching on YouTube these days.
Back in my day there was no such thing as computers or devices. Play School on the television was it for us. We also taped our favourite shows on our beta recorder and watched them until the tape wore out. My brother is a bit younger than me and he was of age when Game Boys were around. Tetris and Super Mario Land then became the two favourite games in our house.
Fast forward to 2015 and my 3 year old happened upon YouTube. I thought she was playing one of the ‘educational’ apps I had loaded on the iPad and after at least 30 minutes of silence I checked to see what was keeping her mesmerised. It was a video of a child unwrapping kinder surprise eggs. Yep, that’s right. Not playing with the toys or anything, just unwrapping the eggs. If you haven’t seen them they go something like this.
Completely fascinating right? That video alone has amassed 782 million views since being uploaded in 2013! So apparently my kids aren’t the only ones watching Kinder Surprise unwrap videos!
As time went on she moved from Kinder Surprise Egg unwrapping videos to MagiClip Dolls. She watched this one below over and over. The MagiClip Dolls themselves intrigued her and she especially loved this video of the woman making them Play-Doh dresses. This was at a time when MagiClips were tough to buy in Australia so 8 weeks later when the shipment arrived from the US she nearly wet her pants! Hours upon hours of play occurred. Play doh dresses were designed and imaginary games played. More hours were spent playing with them than they were on the original videos themselves (so maybe my parenting choices haven’t been too bad for them).
I’ve tried to pick videos for them that I think are cool but unfortunately I fail. My choices aren’t correct. My eldest now loves watching videos of girls playing with their dolls. Anna and Elsa in particular. She then re-enacts them. Unfortunately this is often done with an American accent! The youngest one also loves YouTube videos. We recently had to ban her from watching the pooing Baby Alive videos as that is all she would watch! I have the strict filter set so that they can’t come across anything too bad and I keep on ear open but otherwise I let them explore. There is also YouTube Kids.
We haven’t ventured into making our own videos yet, but maybe we should! The lady with the fancy fingernails that made the MagiClip video above is rumoured to have made $4.9 million dollars in 2014. She opens toys and demonstrates them. That is more than the average CEO makes! Maybe I’ll get my nails done in preparation!
As I said, I subscribe to the ‘everything in moderation’ school of parenting so I’m totally comfortable with my kids being into this. And only time will tell as to what impact it will have on this generation of kids. Based on the number of views online and the marketing dollars being invested in this I know my kids aren’t the only ones into the craze. The only tip I’ll give parents is to make sure your data plan can handle watching YouTube videos when you aren’t connected to WiFi. Otherwise, that’s one immediate regret you’ll have!
Are your kids into YouTube videos?