YouTube stars seem to be getting younger by the day.
Ryan is a five year old living out the kind of life most five year olds dream of – as the face of Ryan ToysReview, he both makes – and has an audience of – millions, just for unboxing and playing with toys on camera.
The Verge reports that Ryan’s channel was created back in March 2015, but it wasn’t until the above video was published that it really started to take off.
In fact, for the last 18 weeks and counting, Ryan’s channel has been the most popular on YouTube, beating out the likes of PewDiePie and Justin Bieber (both of whom operate on roughly the level of a five year old, to be fair).
However, as The Verge points out, Ryan’s massive popularity and sudden fortune raises all kinds of questions regarding the ethics of putting a five year old boy in front of such a huge audience.
Josh Cohen, an industry analyst and founder of TubeFilter told The Verge:
He is definitely the youngest YouTube star we’ve ever seen. It’s the biggest of this genre of programming that is getting billions of views a week on YouTube. Really nobody is talking about it, but it’s crazy once you start scratching the surface.
On the bright side, it would seem that Ryan’s parents are aware this stardom is something they have to treat with caution. They claim it was Ryan himself who wanted to start reviewing toys on camera. He was three years old at the time.
His mum told TubeFilter:
We post a new video every day, and we typically film two to three videos at a time two to three times per week. We try not to interfere with Ryan’s pre-pre-school schedule, so a majority of the filming takes place during the weekend, and then we’ll edit while he’s in school.
While that’s all well and good, it’s hard not be a touch cynical in a situation such as this. TubeFilter’s Cohen adds that Ryan and his parents aren’t the only ones who benefit from his successes.
YouTube changed their algorithm to value longer watch time. The kids that watch these videos are watching for a longer period of time than a typical viewer watches YouTube. A three or four year old who gives them the iPad, my guess is they are watching the whole video, and YouTube really likes it when they are watching the whole video.
Of course, we could be cynical and wary of Ryan’s popularity until the cows come home.
On the other hand, we could look at it from this perspective: A struggling family have managed to build a secure future by letting their kid do something he loves to do, and that doesn’t sound too bad at all.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.