Over the course of the last week, my 9-year-old daughter has
crafted a portrait in pearler beads, carefully painted a ceramic box at our
local Color-Me-Mine and written a lengthy letter. Each of these items was for a special
person in her life.
Not me, sadly. Nor one of her BFFs.
Rather, she spent the time
and energy making these gifts for her favorite YouTuber, the pink-haired, Minecrafter who goes by the moniker LDShadowLady.
Her adoration for a
20-something who shares gaming prowess online is not rare. Mine and other kids also avidly watch various YouTubers share their toys, open boxes, perform sketches and
just ramble on with random silliness. They watch with a fervor that is usually reserved for Taylor Swift, One Direction or the cast of a Disney Channel sitcom .
But there is something
unique about these online stars.
Instead of being born from a marketing department, or
by getting a big break like a record deal or a major film role, these stars (for
the most part) are self-made. When I asked my daughter what made YouTubers different than your average pop star, she said that they were "people just being
themselves, they are just sharing who they are." They are delivering something "real" rather than reading lines. These YouTubers are living the dream, a very 2015 dream.
Back in the day (my day), when people asked what kids wanted to be when they
grew up, the answer was often a doctor, a fireman or president. But according to
a teacher pal of mine, the answer that now routinely tops the list is
"YouTuber." While the odds of making it big on YouTube are as hard as the
aforementioned big breaks, if a clever video maker plays her cards right, she can make beaucoup bucks—we're talking millions of dollars in just one year.
So who are our kids watching?
Here are 8 of the most popular YouTubers for kids, the superstars of today.
is love. Minecraft is life," yeah, the pink-haired 22-year-old Lizzie is all
about Minecraft. But she also plays other games on her growing gaming channel. She holds the title of my daughter's favorite YouTuber.
Dan and Phil are two
British mop-haired 20-somethings who play games, embrace gaming changes and
give gaming reviews. They got their start on various shows on BBC Radio
1 but left in August of 2014 to focus on
their wildly popular YouTube channel.
9-year-old Evan, along with his little sister Jillian, engage in wacky challenges, play with toys and just give us adorable. His dad, who does the videos, spoke of Evan's sudden fame: "I think it's hard for a 9-year-old to fully grasp the concept of fame. But as more and more people are recognizing him on the street, I think he's starting to catch on. At first, he was a little shy and didn't know what to think. But I think he enjoys seeing the smiles on kids' faces when they meet him. My wife and I like to use these opportunities to reinforce the idea of being a role model and setting a good example."
This is one of those unboxing video channels that is wildly popular with kids. FunToyzCollector specializes in small toys, dolls and Play-Doh, all of which are aimed at toddlers, babies, infants and pre-school children. We don't see the host's face, her hands and soft gentle voice are all we get to know. Here's the shocking thing about this particular YouTube channel: it's been reported that the woman who does it has earned more than $4 million dollars a year from it. Yes, MORE THAN FOUR MILLIONS DOLLARS!
The British Stampy Longhead (the orange feline alter ego of Joseph Garrett)
posts Minecraft videos every single day. He also delivers commentary in an upbeat,
silly and enthusiastic way. His laugh and lightheartedness is infectious and has
resulted in a new educational Minecraft show for kids called "Wonder Quest."
Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal are professional "Internetainers," have best friends since 1st
grade. They're both dads (Link has three kids and Rhett has two). Their daily comedy
show is full of banter, wacky challenges and silly music video sketches. Fun
fact: you can even order Rhett and Link bobble heads.