(AP/Richard Vogel)

How to watch YouTube with your kids

They're the under-20 gamers, singers, toy unboxers, and vloggers of YouTube — and your kids are watching them


Caroline Knorr
September 7, 2017 2:00AM (UTC)
This article originally appeared on Common Sense Media.

Common Sense MediaFor some kids, it's not enough to watch YouTube videos. Some kids want to make them, too. And a growing number of under-20 YouTubers are doing just that -- and earning good money. Whether they play "Minecraft," review toys, make music videos, or just rant, they're attracting other kids in droves. (Check out "A Parent's Ultimate Guide to YouTube" for tips on managing your kid's YouTube time.) With millions of viewers, young vloggers are regularly among YouTube's top 50 most-subscribed-to and most viewed, becoming nearly as influential and vital to kids as TV.

Like all things on YouTube, kid vloggers come in all varieties. Some, such as tween gamer LTCorbis, are completely independent, self-funded, and self-motivated. And not necessarily age-appropriate. Some, such as the 7-year-old star of Ryan's Toys Review, are directed by their parents. Some are part of larger content-creation groups, such as the Fine Brothers Entertainment channels Kids React and Teens React. Most YouTube kids also are multi-platform, cultivating audiences on Instagram, Musical.ly, Snapchat, and Twitter and even writing books.

Advertisement:

It's natural for kids to be attracted to watching other kids. But be aware that many YouTube videos — even ones hosted by kids — may contain mature content. And while plenty of kid YouTubers are safe bets, there are some pros and cons about the entire enterprise.

On the Plus Side:

  • Videos tend to be relatively brief, bite-sized chunks of news and entertainment (ideal for kid attention spans and schedules).
  • The hosts are interested in the same subjects your kids are, and they look and talk like them — which gives your kids a sense of connection.
  • When kids choose their own entertainment, they often don't spend time on stuff they don't like. They tune into specific vloggers who deliver incredibly relevant information that's tailor-made to their interests.
  • The fact that these kids are earning thousands (and even millions!) can make vlogging look like an attractive undertaking to fans (i.e., your kids). It also can be a creative and educational hobby, but there are some risks. If your kid wants to try it, get tips on doing it safely.

On the Down Side:

  • Language and content can be an issue, especially with gamers and any tween and teen vloggers.
  • Your kid will be seeing a lot of advertising. Ads are how YouTube and its users make money, and the ads are not all age-appropriate.
  • Many YouTubers, especially toy reviewers, get stuff for free in exchange for coverage on their channels. They may or may not disclose that fact. But your kids may not understand that sometimes what they're watching is essentially advertising.
  • According to YouTube's terms of service, users must be at least 13 to run a channel. The fact that there are so many kid bloggers makes it seem like younger kids are permitted. Kid bloggers usually state that their parents actually own the channel, but this fact could be lost on your kids.

Here are some of the most highly subscribed kids on YouTube. Check our guidance on which ages they're best suited for:

Ryan's Toys Review
This 7-year-old has been creating toy-demonstration videos (with the help of his mom, who directs and works the camera) since age 4. Now, with more than 6 million subscribers, the videos of Ryan playing with cars, trucks, superheroes, surprise eggs, and Play-Doh are some of the most viewed on the entire internet.
Quick take: Ryan's Toys Review features tons of products, including expensive ones like kiddie cars. The family donates a lot of the toys to charity, but the "reviews" give the companies lots of publicity.
Best for: Preschoolers and little kids

Evan Tube HD

Advertisement:

He started with a stop-motion "Angry Birds" video at age 8. Now, 12-year-old Evan's videos, featuring unboxing, toy reviews, and food challenges, have billions of views, millions of subscribers, and spin-off channels featuring his sister and family — oh, yeah, and millions of dollars in yearly revenue.
Quick take: Evan's videos are filmed by his father, and they are all family-friendly and fun — if product-heavy.
Best for: Little kids and tweens

Kid President

Teen actor Robby Novak portrays the character Kid President on the thought-provoking channel Soul Pancake. Kid President poses innocent but profound questions such as, "What makes an awesome leader?" He has done TED talks and has been invited to the White House.
Quick take: Through his many "pep talk" vlogs and musings, Kid President gets kids to think deeply about civic engagement.
Best for: Big kids and tweens

Kids React and Teens React

Advertisement:

Produced by the internet content-creation team Fine Brothers Entertainment, these series feature kids and teens viewing and commenting on viral videos. Through their reactions and impressions, the audience gets a glimpse into how young folks perceive the world and the people in it. Many of the kids and teens of React (including singer and actress Lia Marie Johnson, now on AwesomenessTV) also have their own channels and cultivate audiences independently of the series.
Quick take: You have to know a little about viral videos and internet trends to really "get" these shows. Kids (and parents) can learn how to view media more critically by watching other kids express their ideas.
Best for: Big kids, tweens, teens

EthanGamer

While mostly known as a gamer ("Roblox," "Minecraft," and "Pokémon"), this British tween has branched out into unboxing videos, candy reviews, and toy reviews.
Quick take: If you'd like to find a mild-mannered gamer for your kid, Ethan is your boy.
Best for: Tweens

Advertisement:

Jacob Sartorius

A singer-songwriter at the tender age of 14, Sartorius also reaches millions of fans on Musical.ly, Twitter, and Spotify. His single "Last Text" amassed over 4 million views, and he has designs on becoming as famous as another singer-songwriter kid who got his start on YouTube (Justin Bieber).
Quick take: A talented, likable entertainer whose music, while not groundbreaking, is easy on the ears.
Best for: Tweens

Mark Thomas

Advertisement:

This teen entertainer has mastered the art of cross-platform self-promotion. In addition to his YouTube channel, he has a social media presence under the name Duhitzmark on Twitter, Instagram, and Musical.ly. Kids — mostly girls — like him for his heartthrob looks, sexy moves, and original videos.
Quick take: Adults may not necessarily understand the appeal, but kids go crazy for his stuff, including sexy, grinding dance moves and explicit music.
Best for: Tweens

Brooklyn and Bailey

Seventeen-year-old identical twins Brooklyn and Bailey got their start on their mom's beauty vlog, Cute Girls' Hairstyles. They now upload slickly produced videos on a range of subjects from dating to fashion to DIY.
Quick take: There's nothing not to like about these charming blue-eyed beauties -- unless, maybe, they're too perfect?
Best for: Tweens and teens

Matty B Raps

Advertisement:

This 14-year-old singer-songwriter uploads songs, music videos, skits, and other material to the delight of his 2 million-plus fans. He launched a cross-country tour based on his YouTube success.
Quick take: Matty B often features his friends (many of whom are girls) on his vlogs, which offer a glimpse into his seemingly charmed teenage life.
Best for: Tweens and teens

Awesomeness TV

AwesomenessTV is a youth-oriented entertainment brand, sort of like MTV but web-based (although it had a show on Nickelodeon for a while, too). It features teens and 20-somethings who vlog, sing, and perform on the channel's original scripted series such as "Chat.Like.Love" and "Foursome."
Quick take: While stars' individual vlogs are mostly mild, the scripted series can be edgy.
Best for: Teens

LtCorbis

Advertisement:

LtCorbis is actually a middle schooler named Sophia. She vlogs, tweets, and shows up on gaming sites such as Steam and forums such as Reddit. Some of her videos contain racial and ethnic slurs, and many contain expletives. Still, her rants draws fans who are enthralled by observations.
Quick take: Her videos may have some value for gamers, but overall she seems embittered beyond her years.
Best for: Teens

Bretman Rock

With his jet-black hair, clear blue eyes, and steady stream of hilarious commentary on life, Hawaiian teen Bretman Rock has makeup tips that seem almost beside the point. He shares beauty techniques — and lots more — on his boundary-pushing channel.
Quick take: For a guy who specializes in makeovers, he's endearingly down-to-earth.
Best for: Teens

Jay Versace

Advertisement:

This teen got his start doing short, funny skits on the now-defunct video-sharing site Vine. On his madcap YouTube channel, he will do anything for a laugh, such as giving ridiculous advice, wearing wigs, fake crying, and even pranking his viewers.
Quick take: Though he's super silly, he's one of the most adept video editors on YouTube, and he conveys lots of humor through interesting splicing techniques.
Best for: Teens


Caroline Knorr

MORE FROM Caroline Knorr




BROWSE SALON.COM
COMPLETELY AD FREE,
FOR THE NEXT HOUR

Read Now, Pay Later - no upfront
registration for 1-Hour Access

Click Here
7-Day Access and Monthly
Subscriptions also available
No tracking or personal data collection
beyond name and email address

•••


Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •