When I tell people my children have their own YouTube channel I’m usually met with widened eyes, a forced smile and a mixed reaction.
It usually comes with one of the following: ‘Are you crazy?’ or ‘That’s so cool!’. So why do I allow it or even participate?
For the same reason, I stand on the sideline of a football pitch every Saturday morning in all kinds of weather, for the same reason I sit in the spectators' area watching my kids learn to swim; simply to share in their interests. Be it sport, baking, art or whatever the flavour of the month is, I want to be a part of their world. Enter YouTube.
I will admit, it took me a while to accept advancing technology in our home, but we are living in a digital age and there is no escaping it. It’s everywhere I turn, from tablets to gaming consoles, smartphones to the on-demand tv. Times are certainly changing. Although I slowly came round to their love of all things digital, I still insist on limiting screen time.
For years, my children actually believed that our TV had naps. Ok, so a small white lie may have been told to reduce the number of meltdowns that happened when I gingerly announced, “that’s enough TV for now”. Then I made the mistake of introducing my phone. Games, YouTube, Netflix, the possibilities were endless. All accessible, all the time.
I’m pretty sure I heard mini explosions come from inside their small heads. Their minds had been well and truly blown. Like everything, what started out as a once off turned into habit.
Following another pathetic attempt at a nights sleep, I was awoken at a disgraceful hour to the clambering of arms and legs all over my tired body. The wrestling match ensued as two smallies squeezed into any available space. Then the bartering would begin. Resistance at first, but finally I’d crumble and pass it over. Boys 1, Mammy 0. Or was it win/win? I’d snooze away to the background noise of my giggling kids being happily entertained by strangers. YouTube was their port of call and that’s when the obsession began. I was perplexed at the number of channels that produced absolute crap but my kids were hooked. If I had to watch another kinder egg being unwrapped or a blind bag unveiled I was going to lose what few marbles I had left. I just didn’t get it? Creepy grown-ups playing with kids toys.
My husband had just taken a year off work to be a stay at home dad. He had swapped a career in children’s TV for school runs and keeping our kids alive. Ken is never without his camera, determined to capture every moment. What began with an innocent game of make-believe suddenly developed into The Lost Kids, their very own channel, made for kids by kids. Don’t judge me before hearing me out.
I’m very much aware of the dangers associated with social media and the internet. but they are never unsupervised. My argument is that stranger danger exists everywhere, so am I wrong to educate them on virtual stranger danger too? It is my job as a mother to show them the way.
I use their channel as an educational tool. When people write negative comments about one of the videos, I simply tell them that what they enjoy may not be to the same taste of others. They have grown a thick skin which surely can’t be a bad thing in this so-called snowflake society? Although we live by the expression ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all’ I am shocked to say others clearly don’t. Hating on children is just not cool. Be warned, if I ever meet you, I swear I’ll go mama bear on your ass in true Irish mammy style; armed with a wooden spoon.
I am not a pushy parent, I am simply helping them to live out a dream. Watching a three-year-old who can’t yet write his name, scribble his autograph (albeit for the lovely girls in the local bistro) is enough to make me burst with pride. Pocket money is now spent on stamps. Posting swapsies to their fans is costing us a small fortune. So much for making money!
Speaking of money, the boys have one common goal in mind. When asked what they plan to spend their millions on, their reply is innocently beautiful: ‘just enough so that mammy doesn’t need to go to work anymore’. How can I not stand behind that, as unrealistic as it may be?
As long as they want to do it, I’ll be there encouraging them to do so. When they get bored, it will simply be a delicious memory bank of precious moments to cherish forever.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions so check out the Lost kids for yourselves and leave some feedback.