Do you know who DanTDM is? If not, you should. And you’re old. If you have a little boy or gamer girl, DanTDM may well be stealing your child’s soul.

Kids don’t watch much TV nowadays.  Things are shifting to the Internet.  This is a challenge for the no-screen family or heavy censorship Mom.  In the end, we lose the parenting battle to every YouTuber out there.

The good news is this:  YouTube gives kids a chance to be create–and be seen–for real.   The days of the Hollywood stage parent are over. No kid even wants to be a movie star these days.

They want to be famous YouTubers.  And they can do that themselves with the push of a button and the webcam they already have.

Sorry, Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson. You can’t handle the truth. All the hard work you put into Hollywood was wasted on this generation. My kid doesn’t care about the Oscars. At age seven, all he cares about is the next YouTube sensation. He’ll never run lines at an audition, study improv or classical acting or get rejected by a casting director. He’ll just push “record” and go.

“I have seven subscribers!”  he said.  “I wonder if DanTDM or Markiplier will like this?” His new heroes.   Please don’t tell him Dan was busy that day.  Three of the likes and subscribes are me.

Don’t underestimate the power of DanTDM–and all the YouTubers.

Just because they’re young and talk about zombies, games and fashion grabs doesn’t mean they’re not in control of the empire they’re building. They are.  We left them a bad economy and they ran with it.  They’re changing the way we consume and purchase content, products, and live our lives.

They’re one of the largest disposable income purchasing demographics out there–meaning they’ve got the most cash they can spend because they don’t have as many bills, and they’re building and controlling present and future economies.  Marketers and breakfast cereals with premiums bow to them.

What does this mean?

It means I have to catch up to YouTube–and fast.

YouTube’s not my competition, it’s already my master.

While I’m sitting here writing about my son, garden vegetables, sustainability and education–my kid’s already strategizing about how to build his personal brand on Periscope. I’m that guy with the quill pen and parchment sitting next to a little time machine.

How do I deal with DanTDM?

If you can’t beat them, join them. It’s tough to restrict when Declan “accidentally” disables YouTube’s safety mode so he can watch his idols.

I sit down and watch.  Then, I teach.

I’ve found some amazing content I love by digging into YouTube or just watching with my son–everything from Thomas Sanders’ vines which I use in my classroom all the time, to some amazing teen/twenties social justice channels.  Declan and I watch science and animal stuff all the time.

I endorse YouTubers who are fun. “You can watch him.  He is approved.”   We discuss things that are “good for teens, not you.”  Sometimes, I give a famous YouTuber or two a time out.  “You can watch them when you are (insert arbitrary age here).”

“But MOM!”

“I’ll tell you what–tweet him or email him and ask him not to say the “f” word and if he promises to stop…

“But Mom, he didn’t say the bad word, his guest did! And he got mad, ‘There’s kids watching. Don’t say that!'”

It’s a teachable moment. That YouTuber can stay. For now.

The bottom line is this–your kids have heroes you’ve never heard of, and they can outwit you and route around your restrictions, and you’ll only see what they plant for you to see. “Awwww, my teen just ‘liked’ seven social justice pages and wants to join the Peace Corps.”

That’s why it’s better to be involved and to teach digital responsibility in the content they consume–and also to encourage them not to be blind consumers–CREATE!

My son’s not quite a teen yet–soon. They age faster than ever these days. I need to be ready. This is war.

“Do you know what TDM stands for?” Declan sees I’m writing about his hero.

“No.” I’ve never even wondered. It could be three swears.

“The Diamond Minecart. DanTDM. The Diamond Minecart.” I google what a diamond minecart is and find it to be quite cool. I wish I had one. Or, just a diamond would be okay.

“Hey, Mom. Wanna play hide-and-g0-seek?” Declan’s decided to take a break from Minecraft and YouTube to play with me for real.

“You can play hide and seek in Minecraft, you know. In Highpixel.”  That’s where he plays games with other future parent outwitters. He’s since been banished.  I think he broke a rule.  It was a teaching moment, too–like everything is online.

“Let’s go play for real!”

He’s waiting nicely without a screen in sight. That’s the way little boys should be.  I’ll play real-hide-and-seek now before he’s too famous to acknowledge me and he only has time for his fans.

That’s the real important part, getting out there for real.


[Image via flickr, hobbymb]

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