Dubai: As a parent, would it make you happy, or worried, if your child said he or she wants to be a YouTube star?
The days of playing dress-up and board games in the name of entertainment and fun are long gone. Today’s children are digital wizards and one of the most compelling forms of self-expression for them is having their own YouTube channel.
Just as online adult celebrities are doing, child YouTubers too are exploring all areas of content creation from lifestyle, health, DIY, to sports, toys and fashion.
One of the UAE’s most popular child YouTuber channels is Money Kicks by 14-year-old Rashid Belhasa who is described as a “sneakerhead” and “car enthusiast.” The teen has 1,995,255 subscribers, co-owns a clothing line and is often seen with celebrities such as Fat Joe.
Growing virtual world
Another UAE-born YouTube channel is The Brothers created by a brother-sister duo who offer sketches, vlogs and challenges to their more than 500,000 subscribers. E-commerce and social media trends have forced parents to confront the dilemma around traditional versus virtual careers with their children who are very much in tune with today’s technological world.
With YouTubers and social media influencers on the rise, chances of more children wanting to launch their own online channels are also increasing.
While many parents hope to remain supportive of their child’s unconventional dreams and aspirations, others are unconvinced by the new generation’s trust in the virtual world.
Gulf News speaks to parents in the UAE to see where they stand on this issue.
‘It depends on the content being created’
She is a little “paranoid and cautious” when it comes to child YouTubers.
“It depends on the topic and the frequency of content. I believe that all child YouTubers should definitely have an adult to supervise [these aspects],” she says.
However, she would not stand in her children’s way should they decide to take on YouTubing. While conventional jobs are not considered irrelevant, Lubha says she is mindful that there are many more choices available for this generation.
“I would prefer them to take up futuristic careers,” she says.
Like many mothers, Lubha’s biggest worry with digital trends is managing the unlimited exposure to online content responsibly.
“This is a digital generation and the more we deny the fact, the tougher will we make our own lives. Rather, we should adapt to this trend. Our ignorance can [make us] susceptible to making wrong choices.”
‘It’s not for us’
A YouTube career may be a way to supplement family income, but it is not the right path for her family, says Paula.
“I think the negatives outweigh the positives. I don’t believe any child should be spending that many hours on one single activity,” she says.
Medronoho has two concerns with social media: loss of ability to focus on anything longer than a few seconds and isolation from the real world.
“I think success and adulation at a young age can skew a child’s development and build expectations that can be hard to achieve,” she says.
She adds that she would prefer to teach her children skills that make them “resilient and able to adapt” to future careers.
While a traditional career sounds more appealing to adults, Medronoho says she would be comfortable with helping her children explore more ‘futuristic’ fields.
Neither she nor her daughter are obsessed with YouTube.
“While influencing is a profession today, I’m yet to see how huge its potential is over the long term, considering newer and more interesting ways to create an impact are springing up every day,” she says.
The Dubai resident says while conventional career choices are reliable, she is not opposed to her daughter taking on a more digital or modern job. “As clichéd as it sounds, I’d want her to be stable, happy and most importantly, take informed decisions,” she says.
Her worries with the digital age circle around the violence found in games such as Fortnight, suicidal undertones in the Blue Whale trend and the terror in the supposedly-bogus MoMo Challenge hoax. “Keeping children safe online is a big task for parents,” says Wade. Currently, the only channel the Wade family has subscribed to on YouTube is the 5-Min Craft videos.
‘My son has a channel’
The idea of online children celebrities is not an issue as long as parents are in control of the content, says this mother.
“A lot of child YouTubers offer great tutorials on crafts, travel, and recipes, while others just upload videos so they have something to upload,” she says. Her son, Markus, has his own YouTube channel where he reviews toys. However, the videos and content are shot and edited by her and her husband.
“I believe there is a career in becoming an influencer if you do this kind of work full-time and put in a lot of hard work.” But she would like her children to first complete their studies and get a degree in a chosen field where they can become influencers.
As for social media, she believes that today’s generation can make a digital career sustainable if they know how to manage what they earn and upload content that is relevant.
“Social media is big part of our kids’ generation. Proper guidance from parents and schools will help children understand both sides of social media,” she adds.
1 in 5 children wish to start a YouTube channel, says a 2017 research by First Choice, a travel firm
75% of children would consider a career in online videos, according to a recent study of 1,000 children aged six to 17.
34% said they would like to be a Youtube personality.
The 2017 research by travel firm First Choice, also showed that one in five children wished to start their own Youtube channel. Youngsters’ interest in technology has also spiked with a third of participants saying they would like to increase their knowledge in computer programming and learning the skills of using video editing softwares over studying traditional subjects at school.
6% children want to work in social media and gaming, according to a 2018 UK study which included 13,000 primary school children between the ages of seven and 11.
‘Youtubers Life OMG!’
The release of game titled ‘Youtubers Life OMG!’ on Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch in 2018 is another widely played game encouraging children to take on modern-day jobs such as YouTubing.
YouTubers Life OMG is a life simulation game with business elements, where a player has to manage a character by trying to build their career as a YouTube personality. Influenced by games such as The Sims and Game Dev Tycoon, the game gives players the tools to create videos for their character’s channel and manage their education and social life.