YouTube Stole My Child’s Brain… And My Influence. SAD!
But Good News: Here’s How I Co-Opted YouTube To Get It Back
Us parents, we walk a fine line. Children — toddlers and infants specifically — demand an enormous amount of attention. That demand draws time away from any amount of personal time Momma and Dada might have enjoyed in the past. To get some of that time back, many of us parents make a deal with the Devil.
Up through the early Aughts that Devil was unquestionably the TV. But who is that devil today?
And oh my, is it so much more dangerous. Why? Because while TV was essentially the same experience, the lack of options meant that kids’ programming ended before bedtime — and so the deal with the devil was that, “hey, you can park your kid in front of me… do some reading, catch up on work, have an actual adult conversation… but I get them all day. When its time to go to bed, I’ll release them back to you… I’ll be sure to turn off the cartoons then…”
But YouTube? The kids content stream is endless. ENDLESS. And that damn Autoplay feature (Oh, your favorite YouTube video is done, little one? Don’t worry, here’s another. And another, and another) eliminated whatever conscious the devil had remaining along with the fine line us parents so expertly toed.
What’s this led too? A complete destruction of my fatherly influence. I’m not making this up — I scientifically charted my influence over my 3.5 year old son since his birth. The results? See figure 1:
Clearly you can see the trend that Momma matters, Dada is being ignored, and YouTube holds the penultimate position of influence. Even the dog, by virtue of her ability to lick, holds more influence than dear old Dada. What’s Dada been reduced to? A the connection point. A connection point between the remote, the TV, the AppleTV to which it’s connected and the YouTube app that unlocks access to an endless amount of content to which the Devil has addicted my son.
Net net, what does this translate into?
Nothing much when Momma is around — I don’t know what my wife’s secret is, but my son DOES NOT CROSS HER.
But when Momma is not around… we have 1) meltdowns before going to soccer practice 2) meltdowns before brushing teeth 3) meltdowns before bed — all of which have the common feature of being immediately preceded by a shutdown of the YouTube app and the AppleTV on which it plays.
What’s Dada to do? How can I regain respect? How can I stop YouTube’s ascension to the top of my son’s influencer pyramid?
After months of frustration, I actually came up with a solution that did both… at once. Here’s how:
- First, I learned that there’s nothing I could do to stop YouTube’s ascension in influence over my son. He’ll soon be old enough to operate the AppleTV remote himself… and at that point I’ll be entirely cut out of the process.
- Second, YouTube’s most devilish source of influence — its endless content — is powered by its capability to accept content from anywhere… at anytime… from anyone… YES, that includes… ME! So, so long as I can produce content, I can control the message… and re-exert my influence.
- But a video of me as a talking head wouldn’t be very effective. My son is smart enough to see through that. But if I could speak through his favorite cartoon characters… then we’d be getting somewhere.
- And good news! While YouTube is an endless source of son-addicting content… the Internet is an endless source of tools with which to take that content… and transform it into something more advantageous to dear old Dada’s level of influence.
- So given that internet allows me to download YouTube videos… and my computer allows me to edit those videos… and YouTube allows me to upload them back into curated playlists of only content I allow for…
- I made the strategic decision to merge myself with YouTube to create a new influencer in my Son’s life — DadTube!
How does DadTube work? Watch for yourself:
Has DadTube had the intended effect? Well, 28 days after going live, I’ll let the results speak for themselves. See Figure 2.
I’m BACK baby!