Would You Put Your Kid On YouTube?

November 11, 2011

After filming a couple of videos of my 4-year-old singing and dancing recently, I was faced with a decision that I think a lot of parents have thought about in this era of social media. That question, of course, is: Should I put this cute video of my kid on YouTube?

As I’m sure is the way all parents feel, my daughter’s videos are the most damn adorable videos ever created, hands down. Never have I been as moved by a rendition of “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin” in my life. These would get five million views easy, I thought after watching them for the first time. After immediately feeling compelled to send the videos to family members, I realized the videos were too large to email from my phone, so I had to decide if I wanted to upload them to YouTube, and if so, whether or not to set the videos to private.

Having read a recent New York Times article about parents, such as the father of David from the beloved “David After Dentist” video, cashing in on their kids’ viral videos, I imagined what life would be like for my family if my daughter’s videos blew up and she became a minor internet sensation.

According to the Times story, if YouTube’s reps think your video might go viral, and you give them permission, they’ll run ads alongside your video and share more than half the revenue with you, sending you a check each month. David’s family has made upwards of $100,000 on YouTube ads alone! That’s a college tuition plus some, I thought.

My mind continued to drift, as I imagined starting a whole “Bella Remixes Disney Classics” channel, selling spin-off merchandise, booking TV morning shows, watching the imitation videos (and $$) pile up, etc. The possibilities to capitalize on the popularity of one viral video are endless, as proven by how the “David After Dentist” video exists today (see above) – there’s a “DAD” (David After Dentist) logo, a “click here to see David’s new video of him playing football!” ad, and a David After Dentist website link. A two-minute video of a kid confused by the effects of anesthesia led to a mini media empire.

On the other hand, while 15 minutes of YouTube fame isn’t exactly the same as TV series or movie fame, as a child of the 1980s, I couldn’t help but think of all the child-star-gone-bad stories, from Macaulay Culkin to Corey Feldman to Lindsay Lohan. Again, a 45-second video clip is different than “Home Alone,” obviously, but at the same time, the risk of having your child being spotted as “that one kid” and being uncomfortable with the recognition stuck with me. So I stopped daydreaming and decided against keeping the video public.

Who knows, maybe she’ll get mad at me in a few years when she sees David or that one little girl whose Nicki Minaj cover video went viral recently enjoying their acting or music careers. Have you had similar thoughts after shooting a potential viral video of your kiddo?