Opinion: Fictional reality

Kids being taken advantage of by “influencers”


Peyton Brush, Junior Editor

It’s no secret that Youtube has been engraved in the minds of teenagers and children as well as some adults since it was established in 2005. I’m no different, I watch a ton of Youtube. Everyone does. But my mind is more developed than a child. Teenagers are usually better at detecting manipulation from a Youtuber. Kids however, are not mature enough to figure that out which has led to countless Youtubers taking advantage of these kids for monetary gain.

Back in the late 2000s, Youtube was seen as a place where funny cat videos could be viewed. It wasn’t a business. The closest thing people had to that kind of content was stuff made by people like The Angry Video Game Nerd, or cartoons made by Newgrounds animators. It wasn’t until the 2010s when people started to realize that Youtube could be quite the lucrative business, with people like Tobuscus, Smosh and the Annoying Orange creating an empire of comedy videos. 

Then was the advent of lets plays, with channels like Chuggaconroy, Game Grumps, SkydoesMinecraft, Markiplier, and Pewdipie. Youtube continued to evolve, with the creation of prank channels like Fouseytube, vloggers like Casey Neistat, commentary channels like H3H3 and Iddubz and now to the modern day where there is such a vast array of content it can be hard to choose what to watch. But during 2015, a new kind of content creator rose up. Content to take advantage of children for money.

Who are these scumbags? Let’s take a look at some.

The main example these days is Jake and Logan Paul. The Pauls are immensely popular Youtubers, both possessing near 20 million subscribers. But they are some of the least respected Youtubers in the game, both their peers and a wider audience have shown to dislike them. These are mostly for reasons like Logan showing a corpse of a Japanese man on his channel who had taken his own life, or Jake being a public nuisance to the neighborhood he lives in, these admittedly abhorrent reasons for disliking are unfortunately a surface level critique of them. The real horror is with how they manipulate and influence kids.

Jake Paul has created a media “empire” by his main strategy, aggressive marketing to children. Jake markets to kids aggressively, constantly reminding them to buy his merchandise like shirts or tickets to tours. It has been estimated that his vlogs are 40 to 50 percent advertisements, building it in his natural conversation trying to influence the purchase habits of children. Jake is an extremely smart individual who has done panels and meetings where he has discussed how to use the power of social influencers to take advantage of young children. Jake even has lyrics in his “songs” advertising the merch. With classic lines such as “Buy that merch” and “Go tell your mama, she gotta buy it all.” A modern day Bob Dylan.

This is a immorale practice that is not only scummy and gross but also can be illegal. The government has strict rules for advertising, how much of a program can be advertising products, and how characters from the respective programs cannot be a part of the advertisements. For example, commercials showing Spongebob cannot be shown during Spongebob. Jake Paul is, for lack of a better term, the character who is advertising the merch to children.

Jake, as stated above, is an intelligent individual. So practicing very scummy practices he needs an excuse. So he plays dumb, best exemplified by his inerview with Shane Dawson, where he dismisses all criticism of that and says it’s stupid. Jake required an explanation of marketing from his interviewer, despite the fact he clearly knows more about it than most other Youtubers. 

Now his brother Logan, he does a similar thing to Jake but to a lesser degree, not being as blatant as Jake but still being scummy. The more worrying aspect of Logan is his audience’s reaction to his actions. When the infamous suicide forest video went up, Logans audience was very postive towards the video, and enjoyed it. 

Logan practices a similar model to Jake, but not as aggressive. He still constantly shows merch and advertises it, but he isn’t as bad as Jake. 

Another Youtuber using child audiences to their advantage would be the channel XtremeGamez. These guys are already trying to get with the young crowd with a channel named XtremeGamez. They made content for children it’s all well and good. Except they posted a video titled “We’re dying”. In the video they stated that one of the brothers had liver cancer and couldn’t make any more Youtube videos because of his condition. That’s horrible and awful and made many feel sympathy for the two. The video however was monetized, but when they can’t make videos anymore, it makes sense to retain a source of revenue, but it’s still a little weird. 

Then his brother makes a video playing his guitar and singing about his brother, again the video was monetized. And eventually people got suspicious. They made a video stating it wasn’t fake and how apparently they were both sick, the other brother getting vertigo right around the time the first got his diagnosis. And eventually they had a video where they were getting “cured” by a doctor, a Youtuber who practices alternative medicine, and preaches how bad vaccines are. So it’s pretty obvious the whole situation is faked which is disgusting and horrible. But why did they do it? To take advantage of their young audience and get more views and therefore, more money.

Youtube posses a lot of creative people, but a lot of awful ones as well. Many people just want to make a quick buck, and then escape out of their with their cash earned. Now how can a ton of money be earned like that? Well, kids are the easiest audience to manipulate, they don’t have the cerebral capacity to tell what is real and what is fake. Most kids who watch these people believe they are friends with the creator, they have a personal connection with this person as a medium like Youtube is far more personal than a film or television show, the characters in a Youtube video talk to the audience directly, building a sense of trust with the viewer. There isn’t anything wrong with a viewer building a trusting relationship with viewers, but those who take advantage of that for money are complete money hungry parasites.