One of the many things I’ve learned in this parenting gig is that no matter how weird or awkward or strange something your kid does, chances are at least 75% of other kids have done it or are currently doing it as well. I’ll still go ahead and Google said weird kid thing before bringing it up to my mom friends though, just to be totally sure my child is in fact not in need of immediate counseling. Still, for whatever reason, when it came to my 4 year old’s sudden discovery, and instant fascination, with YouTube I felt like I was keeping this dirty little secret. Because it wasn’t the fact that my son was watching videos on YouTube, it was WHAT my son was watching.
Other kids playing with toys.
My initial reaction was…seriously? People are watching some random dude open multiple packages of Hot Wheels cars in his basement?! Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised given we currently live in a time where people can make a living by being an “influencer” on social media. But still, I was naively shocked by the number of views some of these videos got.
It took a few weeks before I got the courage to off-handedly mention to my closest mom friend that my kid likes to “watch other kids play with toys on the internet”… to which she replied, “omg, mine too”! Sure enough, others were right there along with us. It was like a rush of relief knowing that this is apparently a fairly common thing.
So I strapped on my responsible mom pants and downloaded the YouTube Kids app to avoid any unintended video viewing, because duh the internet, and let my son watch all the kid playing he wanted (within the confines of his iPad privilege time… screen haters back down).
At first I felt like I’d hit a gold mine! I could actually count on screen time as a break or a means to get something done. I’ve never been able to rely on movies or apps to entertain my son long enough to even sweep the floor, so these magical videos that kept my child entranced felt like a gift from the screen gods.
Of course, what I didn’t anticipate were the “side effects” related to his video viewing. For one, I can’t open a package from Amazon without him standing over my shoulder highly anticipating whatever may be inside. Each time a new one arrives the kid thinks it’s his lucky day! His number has finally been drawn to receive the latest and greatest that Hot Wheels has to offer! Wrong, it’s just diaper pail liners, again.
In the beginning, I could type in simple searches for him to go deep dive through like “marble run” or “car race.” Now he demands complicated things like “King of the Hill Hot Wheels Championship series #18″… because apparently that’s a thing.
We thought we had nailed parents of the year status when we got him the Hot Wheels garage for Christmas, after he had obviously watched some videos of it, and sure enough he was thrilled! He proceeded to play with it for about two hours, then promptly requested iPad time so he could watch videos of other kids playing with what else, the Hot Wheels garage.
As annoying as these videos can sometimes be, I’ve also noticed some pretty cool side effects as well. Thanks to watching videos of different marble runs and race set-ups, he will now spend hours trying to replicate them. I’ll hear him setting up a racetrack and commentating much like they do in the videos. He can put together a marble run faster and better than I can, and he’ll spend a good hour or so racing his marbles and declaring winners.
It seems to spark an imaginative, creative play side to him that we haven’t seen before. It seems like the videos give him an idea or scenario that he wants to re-create. If you think about it, it’s not all that different then when we would act out scenes from our favorite shows and movies growing up.
So if YouTube videos have taken hold of your child too, don’t fret. You are not alone! Yes, it can be annoying and weird, but as long as you monitor what they are watching, and keeping it all in moderation, I think it can be an ok thing! Just steer clear of the toy aisle next time you roll into Target with your child, cause chances are they will now know any and every toy that’s currently on the market.