Earlier today, news came out that a nine-year-old YouTuber has become the highest-paid YouTuber this year. He made nearly $30m this year from unboxing and reviewing toys and games.
According to the details, Ryan Kaji, from Texas, made $29.5m (£22m) from his YouTube channel Ryan’s World, as well as a further estimated $200m from Ryan’s World branded toys and clothing, including Marks & Spencer pajamas. He has also signed an unnamed, but supposedly multimillion-dollar deal for his own TV series on Nickelodeon.
The child influencer started off by making YouTube videos in March 2015 after watching other toy review channels and asking his mother; How come I’m not on YouTube when all the other kids are?
Therefore, his family, who changed their real surname, Guan, to his on-screen surname, Kaji, now runs 9 YouTube channels. Ryan’s World is the most popular with 41.7m subscribers and 12.2 billion views. Kaji’s video, Huge Eggs Surprise Toys Challenge has more than 2bn views, making it one of the 60 most-viewed videos ever on the video streaming platform.
Though, the young boy and his family are now facing a threat of a US Federal Trade Commission investigation over accusations that his videos’ promoters are not unveiled properly. A complaint from the consumer watchdog, Truth In Advertising, said around 9% of the Ryan Toys Review videos have included at least 1 paid product endorsement aimed at preschoolers, a group too young to differentiate between a commercial and a review.
It further said that these advertisements often represent unhealthy foods.
On the other hand, an assistant professor of journalism and media studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Benjamin Burroughs, warned that there was a risk that other children were being targeted by child influencers in ways that parents may not be cognizant or aware of.
He says that as a child influencer Ryan is being courted by companies to play with the latest toy so that other children can see it. But now, the child influencer himself has become a brand that is then being put into Walmart, and Target, and Amazon as its own force and influence. The professor adds that it’s pretty shocking.
Burroughs exposed that he became interested in the child influencer phenomenon after his own kids asked him to do the things that Ryan’s family was doing.
He said that he thought Oh, there’s something going on here if my kids are expecting our family to look like Ryan’s family. In Ryan’s family, they’re able to continuously put away content and products. They’re opening up a new toy every day, and then playing with that new toy every day, so there’s this constant consumerism that’s being entrenched within these messages for children.
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