My daughters are obsessed with making videos, which made me take a closer look at the weird things kids watch on YouTube.
Kids are weird. But lately, the things they watch on YouTube strike me as really weird. Is this just me reaching old lady “in my day…” territory? Or are the things kids are watching (and emulating) on YouTube really freaking strange?
The other morning I woke up, groggy and still tired. When I grabbed my phone and unlocked my screen, I saw that my six-year-old had recorded a nine-minute video while I was sleeping.
It started off with my daughter’s grainy face in my almost-pitch black bedroom. It was near impossible to figure out what she was saying, as her whispers were drowned out by the white noise machine (which, it’s worth noting, is on for this very reason). Soon she gets up and wanders around the upstairs of our house, continuing to whisper some kind of song while staring intently into the screen. She eventually goes into the bathroom and turns on the light so that she can see herself more clearly and I see that, even though the sun hasn’t completely risen, she’s fully dressed.
She continues her song, which I can now identify as the line “We’ll do this togeeeeether,” over and over and over again, making different dramatic faces as she sings. The rest of the nine minutes is filled with her sitting on the toilet (while continuing to sing), a view of the ceiling of my bathroom when she (thankfully) puts my phone down to take care of business and wash her hands (popping her face into view every so often so that she can get really dramatic), and flicking the lights on and off. It culminates with her sitting on the floor of her room, applying lip gloss as theatrically as one could ever dream of applying it.
Why does she feel the need to document the seemingly mundane? YouTube.
I don’t know about your kids, but mine are obsessed with the idea of documenting their lives on video. Whether it’s wanting to create vlogs of our day-to-day life or spending bathtime talking about which family challenge I want to do and post on YouTube, they are constantly talking about making videos. And when they’re not talking about it or begging for their own channel, they’re walking through life as if they’re narrating a video.
Making cookies? Oh, you better believe that shit is explained step-by-step to an imaginary audience.
Giving your sister a makeover? Of course you can only do so while explaining each step and giving critical (and questionable) tips about makeup application in the process.
FaceTiming a friend? Well, that’s easily turned into a house tour! I mean, who wouldn’t want to see your used tissues and the countless piles of socks that can be found sprinkled around your room?
I blame the incredibly weird videos they gravitate to when they get a little screen time.
Five Weird Things Kids Watch on YouTube
Other kids opening toys
Both of my girls have gone through phases where they are absolutely entranced watching other kids open things on video. Whether it’s your average run-of-the-mill unboxing (which, now that I think of it, some adults enjoy too—there are tons of makeup and electronic unboxing videos on YouTube) or the super-exciting world of surprise eggs and boxes (please note my sarcasm), they will watch.
I’m not one hundred percent sure where the gratification lies in these. If I were to watch an unboxing video, it would be so that I know what I’m getting before I buy something. If it looks crappy, I’ll know not to buy it. But my kids generally seem to want it all, crappy or not.
Adults playing with toys
This never ceases to amaze me. In a house full of toys (too many toys!), my child is thrilled to sit on the couch in a room with toys everywhere and watch a video of an adult playing with toys that she sometimes owns. Lately, it’s a woman who plays with Anna and Elsa dolls—both of which we own and are stored in the very same room she sits in while watching.
Can someone explain this to me? I know that she’s not the only one who does this because I’ve encountered other equally baffled parents. This does not compute. What is enjoyable about watching someone play with toys that you could instead be playing with yourself?! Also, I can’t handle hearing the crazy high pitch voice adults going into when they make these videos.
Kids playing video games
Samantha is into a game called Roblox. But just playing it is not enough. While she plays it she is either 1) FaceTiming a friend who is also playing it (this one I can sort of understand) or 2) watching a video of some YouTuber playing the same game. Why?! These are not instructional videos that help you find super cool hidden prizes or that teach you hacks. These are just split-screen videos of people reacting as they play video games. Why is this so interesting?!
Adults baking cakes
I can totally understand an adult watching a video on how to make some elaborate cake for their kids’ birthday (in fact, I could have used this unicorn cake video for Ellie’s last birthday). But what exactly do kids love about it? There’s no way in hell my six-year-old is going to spend an afternoon sweating over this cute little guy. She will, however, repeatedly tell me that we need to go buy some fondant so that I can make one.
Ellie talks about these people as if she knows them. “There’s this family in Florida and their daughter Rory did the cutest challenge with rubber duckies.” She then tries to convince me that it would be adorable to have her baby cousin do the same thing. I had a really hard time trying to figure out why anyone would want to watch a boring ass video about a family going about their day-to-day life. And then I opened an eye one morning while Ellie was watching during one of her pre-dawn technology sessions and I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Why?! It’s not particularly interesting or all that different from our own life. So why do these things such them (…and soemtimes us) in?! I just don’t get it.