A note from Rach Smith's digital garden

Is Ryan Kaji going to be okay

Added: July 28, 2022

Tags: miscellany mothering

I’ve never watched one of those family vlogger YouTube channels because they creep me out. Parents exploiting their kids for views is so messed up, I won’t support it.

However, my kid really loves watching Ryan’s world. So we’ve watched a lot of Ryan in our house. There’s a reason he’s been one of YouTube’s top earners. He’s great on camera and his parents are content geniuses. He appears to be having a good time.

The tricky thing about fame for kids is they can’t actually consent to being famous, because they can’t fully understand what happens when you are a famous child. You are sexualised by sickos on the internet. People don’t like thinking or talking about it, but it’s just what happens.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to think you are safe as a child, only to realise later on that whole time you were being lusted after by adults. I remember Mara Wilson writing about how she had to come to terms with how she was sexualised as a child, getting letters from old men 🤮. I just know I could never put my kids through that, even if the pay-check is millions.

Recently I watched the Harry Potter 20th anniversary special, and I was really struck by how all the former child stars reflected on having to work so hard, and being so famous. They all concluded that they were grateful and wouldn’t change their experience. It was a real contrast to the typical Nickelodeon/Disney child star trauma story. It would appear that it is possible to be a child in entertainment and end up okay.

Maybe Ryan will be like one of those Harry Potter kids. Or maybe I just tell myself that to justify watching the videos. I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

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