Being a parent, as any other parent would attest is rewarding, but hard work. And nothing has made modern parenting more challenging than YouTube.
We managed to not expose our firstborn son to any TV or screens until he was two. We were doing well until we had a trip booked from Australia to the UK, which was a 23-hour trip. We bit the bullet and bought an iPad to load up with some activities for the journey and some carefully selected YouTube videos.
Things started innocently enough, until the YouTube app, when connected to the internet, would begin automatically playing similar recommended videos. I do not recall the exact moment, but eventually, Ryan’s Toy Review found its way into our lives.
If you are a parent of children who watch YouTube, there is a good chance they have come across Ryan’s Toy Review or one of its other associated channels like Ryan’s Family Review.
Ryan’s Toy Review might have started out with good intentions, but estimates place the earnings of the channel at around $22 million (US Dollars) per year. When you are earning that much money, you are a business, not an innocent child playing with toys.
The parents regularly feature in Ryan’s videos, the mother has a very irritating voice and is always shouting. The father seems to be softly spoken and somewhat likeable, but the mother takes centre stage, and it sometimes feels like she is the subject of the video, not Ryan.
Watch any of the videos produced lately on the channel, and you will notice they all have one thing most in common: they’re advertising Ryan branded products. None of the videos has any kind of disclaimer on them that says they are promoting paid products either. Sometimes a flash of text or a few seconds of the video will tell you it’s a promotion, but intentionally short.
In one of the videos, Ryan visits a Colgate factory and does a tour, the video starts off innocently enough until you realise it’s an advertisement for Ryan branded dental products. The way they frame it is Ryan just spends a fun day making toothpaste and mouthwash, like it’s a visit to the museum.
The ironic thing about these videos, is there are numerous ones of Ryan eating and playing with chocolate, talking about McDonald’s and other unhealthy forms of food that would cause decay.
People are beginning to notice that Ryan’s Toy Review and associated channels are deceiving and tricking children into buying their products. So much so, a complaint has been registered with the FTC.
And it is clear the parents are reaping the rewards of the success of the channel. They started another channel called Ryan’s Family Review, where they travel and do things most kids do not get to do. Perhaps most desperate of all is the channel his parents started called The Studio Space.
We blocked Ryan’s Toy Review and Family Review channels, but one channel which is new is Studio Space (since blocked). Most of the videos centre around Ryan’s parents and other weird guests, with a rare appearance from Ryan himself from time-to-time.
I get the impression Ryan’s mother Loann, loves fame and money because she appears the most in these videos. It feels like a desperate attempt to pivot, knowing that Ryan is getting older and becoming more interested in video games like Minecraft over toys.
The Studio Space videos see Ryan’s parents acting out role plays, playing with toys, pushing cardboard boxes into inflatable pools and other nonsense in a desperate attempt to retain their large following and subsequent profits from that following.
In the regular YouTube app, you cannot outright block a channel from being watched or appearing. However, if you download the YouTube Kids app, you can. We actually have blocked the channel in our house, and I recommend everyone else does the same.
Ryan’s Toy Review is a business selling products to vulnerable children disguised as innocent toy review videos.