The day that Sonia Gutiérrez her daughter came to her saying she wanted to be youtuber I did not know what he was talking about. Almost four years later she has a channel and her daughter, Silvia Sánchez, exceeds 800,000 subscribers. The success of this 12-year-old malagueña has even opened the doors of the Destino publishing house, which on April 2 will publish its first book, Todo sobre mí.
In Spain there are about 1,300 YouTube channels aimed at children, which generate 5.6 billion reproductions per month, according to 2btube, the leading Spanish channel company from YouTube. "From two to five years, by Google data, 64% of children use YouTube, and after six and seven years they begin to follow children, it is already celebrity the one that becomes your guide ", explains Andrea Santamaría, responsible for commercial actions of children talents." We work with children from the age of six to make different types of content. "This content varies according to the profile of the child. youtuber: parodies, unboxing (unpacking products) or thematic challenges that travel from one account to another. Through them children show their daily life, the relationship with their parents, which often appear on the screen, family trips or meetings with others youtubers
Psychologist Silvia Álava warns that children and adolescents who succeed on YouTube are not prepared to absorb media pressure. Read the interview here
The enormous potential of the children and adolescent audience has led to the emergence of a growing industry around these creators who are minors, who have become prescribers for brands. So much so that some already hire agencies of representation, in the purest Hollywood style.
The Spanish classification of Socialblade, One of the reference tools to measure the degree of influence in the network, is led by the channel Las Ratitas, an account starring Claudia and Gisele, two Catalan sisters of six and seven years old that surpass 11 million subscribers, considered more influential than YouTube stars as Vegetta777 or The Rubius and what powers of child consumption like Disney Junior or Pocoyo.
This channel, managed by his parents, Mireia Martínez and Lluis Itarte, also youtubers, a reprimand has been received from the Audiovisual Council of Catalonia, which, in its latest report, warns of an increase in female stereotypes in the advertising of toys on television and includes for the first time in its analysis the YouTube channels that advertise these products. The organism gives as an example the video The Ratitas are makeup and go to the disco to dance, where parodied two teenagers who are preparing to leave, a video that after the controversy has doubled the views to exceed 40 million.
The attention call has accentuated Javier Urra, who was Defender of the Child of the Community of Madrid between 1996 and 2001 and president of the European network of this figure between 1999 and 2001. Urra, a forensic psychologist, has asked the Office of the Children's Office of Barcelona to act ex officio against this channel. "The Prosecutor's Office must find out in these cases if there has been an economic income and if there has been an illegitimate use of the children." The children do not belong to the parents, in case they were a covert source of income, it would be an illegitimate activity and the Prosecutor's Office I could persecute them, "says Urra.
"Now parents post photos of their children on social media, from the first ultrasound to images of the school play, but is it a right of parents? Or the privacy, honor and dignity of children? Does it belong to them? Where is the limit? In my opinion, there is a clear difference between uploading photos and having a channel with millions of followers, "continues the former Children's Advocate. "Parents can act thinking that what they do is good for children, I would ask for more common sense and that childhood be respected, there will be time for overexposure," she says.
In Spain, children under 14 can only open a Google account supervised by their parents, which is essential to launch a channel on YouTube. "Obviously, a small child is not aware of what he / she is doing, it is his / her parents who exercise parental authority, in case the child is harmed, his / her integrity or emotional development, the Attorney must intervene in defense of his / her rights", point the Attorney Ana Belén Spínola, specialist in criminal law, family and new technologies. "The Organic Law on the Legal Protection of Minors protects children, and the Organic Law on Data Protection and Guarantee of Digital Rights also regulates the protection of minors on the Internet", explains the lawyer.
"From the age of six, children begin to follow 'celebrities'
"We are talking about children youtubers and that to many we are alarmed, but on YouTube there are more good examples than bad ones " María Zabala, communication consultant specialized in digital literacy. "Public exposure of the child is not something new, neither instrumentalization nor monetization, only the greatest breadth of formats and platforms. youtubers today are the children's actors or singers of the past, "he adds.
The truth is that, as Spínola points out, the legislation does not expressly contemplate the case of minors who leave on social networks, since the Royal Decree that regulates their work in artistic or exhibition shows is from 1985. In these cases only it is allowed if such participation does not entail a danger to your physical health or to your professional and human training, and is only allowed with prior authorization. "I understand that in the spirit of the norm it could be extended to new forms of exhibition," he points out.
"If there was regulation, if we could register children as in movies or television, we would know what to expect," says Antonio Muñoz Mesa, television presenter and father of Hugo Marker, youtuber of 13 years with more than half a million subscribers in a channel dedicated mainly to football and the broadcast of Fortnite games. It all started when they decided to upload videos of his life in the United States for his family in Spain. "Suddenly, making an unboxing of Neymar's boots, the channel exploded," remembers Hugo in the attic of his house, in Majadahonda, where he has a small recording studio set up. From that moment, the theme was repeated: challenges, products, video games. Many brands. "But it's not always advertising," says the father. "We do not advertise products that we do not use."
"Children youtubers today are the children's actors or singers of the past "
Advertising is another swampy land. From 2btube expose that there are several ways to "monetize" these channels. The first, through YouTube, which pays according to the visualizations and certain algorithms; and then there are advertising revenues and sponsored content. "The fork of what they earn per month is very broad, can go from nothing to 20,000 euros," says Andrea Santamaría without giving specific figures. "Once they become celebrities they become a brand and it is a licensed brand. Right now is the boom of the books and little by little it will be extended to other categories, such as merchandising, toys or clothes. "
Spínola puts a clear limit: "The child is instrumentalized when not looking for their interest, but for the parents, when the child is used for the parents to obtain an income." In that case, they are forced to perform certain activities that for them they are no longer a divertimento, but a job, this must be pursued. "
Hugo's father estimates that his channel has generated an average of 300 euros per month. The most they have paid for advertising, with a video dedicated to the promotion of a movie, was 2,500 euros. "But for my son it's something else, it's a way of maturing in a profession that interests him," says Antonio about his son, who wants to dedicate himself to television and has already participated in a series.
Silvia Sánchez has also crossed on a couple of occasions from YouTube to television, something that her mother sees as an opportunity. "It's good for her and for her future, she started recording me and now she publishes her own videos," he says, before adding: "The money goes directly to his book for studies."
Although many parents are concerned to see how their children, from small, hook up to YouTube, experts remember that there are many positive content, and in an attractive format for them, that teach them, arouse their social concerns or curiosity about what happens in the world, and even help them improve their English because if they are interested, they see them even in another language. The important thing is that "adults help children to put context to what they believe, share or consume," says Maria Zabala, communications consultant.
Children's channels that do experiments and crafts, such as FullTimeKid; of young people who recommend books or movies, like The collector of Worlds; of teachers of mathematics, how David Calle; of travel, as Luisito Comunica; or tutorials to build in Minecraft, like Archelaus, are some examples.