What a strange world we live in today.
In this world, a 6-year-old can make $11 million a year reviewing toys in front of the camera.
This is a world where it isn’t absurd for a 7-year-old rapper to generate nearly 1 billion views on YouTube and publish a memoir in their early teen years.
It’s the same world where pre-teen sisters join forces to make millions a year by filming themselves trying new candies. So yes, we live in strange times.
YouTube celebrities . . . this is who modern kids want to be when they grow up. But, as experience confirms time and time again, they don’t even need to grow up to make this dream come true.
According to research, nearly 75% of modern kids want to become YouTube vloggers. When asked what exactly they like about vlogging, most children talk about creativity, self-expression, and fame. Some mention recognition and money.
Kids no longer dream about being athletes, doctors, or astronauts. Nor do they believe that traditional education is a must. In fact, most kids agree that if given a choice, they’d rather learn video editing than classic school subjects like history or math.
In the eyes of kids, such a world might look like a dream come true. But is it? Is it safe for kids to become famous and popular in this young age? Is vlogging safe for kids from a mental health perspective? Is there something parents should know before allowing their kids to start YouTube channels?
Let’s see what educational specialists, psychologists, and people working in video production industry have to say in this regard.
What We Need to Know About Kids YouTube Stars
Being popular on YouTube is the new kind of fame–it is something parents should think about before allowing their kids to star on YouTube. Fame is about recognition, money, and opportunities, but it is just as much about public criticism, loss of privacy, and stress.
What makes YouTube fame even more dangerous than old-school recognition is that its lifecycle is much shorter. In the pre-internet age, the world could fit only so many celebrities at a time. YouTube emerged and changed that. Now everyone who has something to share with the world (or at least thinks so) can give it a try. As a result, the competition for time and attention gets increasingly tougher.
With so much to watch and listen to, the internet audience has become spoiled and hard to perform for. We internet users know there’s a myriad of content just one click away, so we rarely watch something till the end, if it feels boring. We constantly crave novelty, and we don’t usually give a second chance when someone fails.
This is what makes it hard to gain and maintain popularity on YouTube. That’s why when kids say they want to be YouTube-famous, it is a must for parents to weight the pros and cons and make a final decision.
The Pros and Cons of Allowing Kids to Start Their Own YouTube Channels
As a parent of a child who wants to be famous on YouTube, you need to be well-informed on the potential risks and opportunities associated with this venture.
Risks of YouTube Fame
- The privacy of your children and the entire family is at stake.
When filming personal life and uploading it on YouTube, most people don’t realize that whatever they upload stays on the internet forever. For.ev.er.
As an owner of a YouTube channel, you or your kid can decide to delete videos some time later, but this does not mean the video will be removed from the internet completely. Someone might download or copy-and paste-videos from YouTube without you and your child being aware of this. It is your role as a parent to make sure your kids understand the “once on the internet, forever on the internet” rule and know the consequences well.
- It’s easy to cross the line trying to make a viral video.
If you’re a parent filming your child for YouTube (or any social network), you should consider the consequences, too. Are you sure your kids will be comfortable to discover what you’ve shared about them once they grow up? Aren’t you crossing the line of your child’s’ privacy trying to make videos go viral? Would you have minded if your parents blogged about you and your personal childhood moments?
“We’ve already seen a case of parents intentionally making their children online celebrities, and it did not end well. It was a shameful case of more than 300 videos where the parents would psychologically abuse their children just to get their reaction on camera. Thankfully, they were finally charged with neglect and were put on probation. You should never do something that can traumatize your children.”
Will, Chief Editor at Vlogger Pro
- Exposure to hurtful comments is almost inevitable.
The internet is the perfect environment for bullying and criticism to flourish. When given a chance to stay anonymous, some people choose to express themselves in ways that might hurt other people’s feelings. When a person becomes YouTube-famous, he or she should be ready for feedback—both good and sometimes very bad. For kids, who are psychologically immature, dealing with negative comments might be a challenge or even damage their psyches.
“Kids that become famous on YouTube learn extremely valuable communication and technical skills. At the same time, they are exposed to incredibly hurtful and highly personal comments. YouTube is still largely anonymous and commenters hide behind that anonymity when demeaning others. If parents want to help their children succeed, not just in gaining YouTube subscribers, but also in life, they must be sure their children are of an age and with the self-esteem where negativity can be properly processed and managed by their child. This readiness can be rare in adults and even more rare in children. Bottom line, like in sports, parents must realize that if child does not want YouTube fame, a parent can’t make their children online celebrities.”
Trevor Doerksen, M.Sc. Educational Psychology, CEO of ePlay Digital
- Becoming too famous too young can be a problem.
Fame is a difficult thing to live with—there’s always a risk of “star fever” when the need for external validation and approval grows. This is something even adults have a hard time dealing with, let alone kids or teenagers who are usually even more sensitive and emotionally unstable. As a parent of an aspiring or already successful YouTube celebrity, you need to take this seriously and make sure your kid’s mental health and self-esteem are both stable.
“It is dangerous when anyone places too much importance on external “likes” and validation, which is a danger in this world of social media, including platforms such as Instagram or Youtube. This is especially dangerous for young children, as their brains are still forming, and they are impressionable. Being a YouTuber and dependent on a high-level of external validation as a young child has the potential to negatively impact their development and core happiness levels as they get older.”
Stacy Caprio, Founder of Accelerated Growth Marketing
Opportunities with YouTube Stardom
- It is a chance for children to follow their passion.
If there’s something your kid has fervent love for and you agree that taking it to the internet will help your little one grow creatively and professionally, YouTube might be the perfect platform for that purpose. Seeing what you create grow in popularity can serve as outstanding motivation for children to keep going and improve in what they do.
- The experience can be used to develop imagination and creativity.
The mere process of filming and video editing is a way to develop creative and technical skills. If your child has his or her own vision of how a channel should look and/or if he or she is willing to experiment with different formats and design, taking care of a YouTube channel might be a great tool to develop imagination and creativity.
- It’s a way for your kids to make money while doing what they love.
One of the best things about YouTube is that it can help young talents get noticed and build a mind-blowing career doing something they love. There are lots of cases of world celebrities who got their start on YouTube (think about Ed Sheeran, Alessia Cara, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth, Tori Kelly, the list goes on). If your child is truly passionate about something—music, acting, comedy, or even science—why not give them a chance to take it to the next level?
“I think it’s OK for a 10-year-old to be famous as long as their parents explain to them how shallow and temporary the whole thing is. It’s probably difficult to explain to a child how a fame cycle works but parents should try to keep their daily lives as “normal” as possible. I question the wisdom of indulging attention-seeking behavior by children but that isn’t always the driver. I’ve seen some very talented child musicians on YT and they clearly enjoy the music first and foremost. The ‘fame’ is only peripheral and most would have kept playing music even if nobody knew them.”
James Tedesco (Quora answer)
It’s clear that the idea of making your kids YouTube stars is neither black nor white. Much like everything else in life, there are pros and cons, risks and opportunities. One thing is perfectly clear, though: no matter if you’re a parent trying to guide your little one to YouTube-stardom or a parent of a kid who’s doing it on their own, focus on maintaining boundaries for your newly famous and possibly rich kids, who might not yet be able to see fame for what it really is.