I worry about these questions a lot, and I wonder if our 21st-century American institutions are up to the challenges they’ve created with their market successes and ethical abdications. Even so, when I visited Chennai, I felt okay about the media future we’re heading into. The toddler videos that ChuChu is posting on YouTube are cultural hybrids, exuberant and cosmopolitan, and in a philosophical sense they presuppose a world in which all children are part of one vast community, drawing on the world’s collective heritage of storytelling. That’s a rich narrative rootstock, with lots of lessons to teach—and right now who’s better poised to make the most of it than ChuChu and companies like it, especially if they can learn from the legacy of American educational TV?
But even in relatively limited doses, these videos can affect young toddlers’ development. If kids watch a lot of fast-paced videos, they come to expect that that is how videos should work, which could make other educational videos less compelling and effective. “If kids get used to all the crazy, distracting, superfluous visual movement, then they may start requiring that to hold their attention,” Johnson says.
Krishnan had no experience other than his own parenting. But if whatever he did as a parent worked for his kids, he felt, why wouldn’t it work for everyone? For example, when he taught his kids left from right, he liked to do it in the car, when they were in the back seat. That way, if he pointed left, it was left for them, too. So when ChuChu made a video teaching the left-right concept, it made sure to always show the characters from behind, not mirrored, so that when a character pointed left, the kids watching would understand.
Also in November 2017, it was revealed in the media that many videos featuring children – often uploaded by the minors themselves, and showing innocent content – were attracting comments from pedophiles and circulating on the dark web, with predators finding the videos by typing in certain keywords in Russian. As a result of the controversy, which added to the concern about "Elsagate", several major advertisers whose ads had been running against such videos froze spending on YouTube.
The great thing about sponsorships is that you don’t have to give YouTube a cut. Plus, you can negotiate whatever contracts you want based on impressions and the size of your audience. In most cases, the amount of revenue you generate from sponsorships is substantially more than YouTube ad revenue. (Meanwhile, you can still generate ad revenue. So it’s like having two sources of income from the same video.)
YouTube allows users to upload, view, rate, share, add to favorites, report, comment on videos, and subscribe to other users. It offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media videos. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, movie trailers, live streams, and other content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos. Most of the content on YouTube is uploaded by individuals, but media corporations including CBS, the BBC, Vevo, and Hulu offer some of their material via YouTube as part of the YouTube partnership program. Unregistered users can only watch videos on the site, while registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos and add comments to videos. Videos deemed potentially inappropriate are available only to registered users affirming themselves to be at least 18 years old.