YouTube Is Destroying My Child's Mind (And One Person Is To Blame)
It finally happened. I finally have concrete proof that I’ve failed at being a parent in 2019.
In the past, I’d heard other parents tell similar anecdotes, but I always wrote them off with a brusque "didn’t happen." But it does happen. It did happen. It happened to me, and now I feel terrible about it.
My son said “Please subscribe”.
We have a routine in the afternoons. I take my children, I put them in the car, I strap them in, I kiss them on the forehead and I say “I love you”. My four-year-old replies “I love you too,” and I shut the door.
But here’s what happened last week. I took my children, I put them in the car, I strapped them in, I kissed them on the forehead, I said “I love you,” and the four-year-old replied “I love you too. Please subscribe.”
Please subscribe. Please subscribe. Please fucking subscribe. My son has started to end normal human interactions in the same way that YouTubers beg for greater market penetration. It’s a low, it has to be said.
And you know whose fault it is? Mine, obviously. But you know whose fault it really is? Ryan. Fucking eight-year-old millionaire toy reviewer Ryan, with his awful parents and his stupid enthusiasm and his overwhelming air of having been designed by science to be the most insidious way possible to introduce your children to the evils of capitalism.
If you’ve never encountered Ryan, then great. Good for you. I’m happy for you. Because Ryan reviews toys on YouTube. That’s all he does. He gets sent a toy, he opens it, he raves uncontrollably about it, his mum sort of butts in and briefly makes it all about her, and then you’re left with a child who really really really wants whatever Ryan has, even though it’s invariably a surprise egg that someone’s lobbed an unsold Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom action figure into. Ryan made $22 million last year alone by doing this. He’s eight.
Ryan is currently my son’s biggest hero. And this is why YouTube is so terrifying. At least with CBeebies you know that everything will be too wholesome to truly love. At least with Paw Patrol you can divert yourself by imagining the genuine insanity that led a mayor (whose only companion in life is a chicken) to delegate her entire town’s emergency service resources to a boy and his dogs.
But YouTube is the Wild West.
It has no mandate to inform or educate. Once you’re in, you’re on your own. And the only way we’ve been able to let our sons near the thing is by monitoring their intake like a pair of lab-coated 1950s time and motion inspectors.
Even then, it’s tough. Weirdness lurks around every corner. Take Blippi, for example. Blippi is an adult human man who dresses up in bright clothes and dances around America’s deserted soft play centres for the benefit of YouTube. I could write a thousand-page book on Blippi. He fascinates me. He has no children. He doesn’t seem to like children. He keeps doing weirdly adult things in his videos, like the time he just did a bunch of benchpresses. And his output has started to reflect his increasing YouTube revenue, too; a few months ago he posted a clip of him driving around a private jet in his own Blippi-branded beach buggy. But no matter, because my children love Blippi.
Anyway, Blippi once made a video where he stripped naked and blasted diarrhea all over another man’s bare anus.
This isn’t news. The video came to light earlier this year, and Blippi is very contrite about it and all. But, I mean, what chance do any of us have any more?
Now, I know that some of you will read this and be all like "Well WE don’t let Josiah consume ANY form of culture whatsoever, other than antique wooden ducks and difficult mid-century jazz albums." However, we’ve decided against this tactic with our children because we don’t want them to grow up into murderers. We want to expose them to screens and computers, because this is the world they’re going to have to live in.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.