There was a lot of attention paid to YouTube superstar Logan Paul a few weeks ago after he posted a vlog on his channel that showed a dead body.
The incident in question took place while Paul and his gang were in Japan. They ventured into Japan’s Aokigahara forest, a place notorious for suicides, and filmed what was apparently the body of someone who had taken their own life.
I haven’t watched the video out of principal. But from all accounts, the crew made light of the fact they filmed a dead body, which is really not at all surprising, considering who was behind the camera.
On social media, a negative reaction came swiftly and unanimously, with many calling on YouTube to suspend (or delete) Paul’s channel.
[Editor’s Note: YouTube cut ties with Logan. Sort of.]
Paul, for his part, is probably too naive to understand the responsibility that comes with having 15 million subscribers. After all, he records himself doing stupid shit and gets paid for it. I doubt he has given much thought to the responsibility he has to his legions of fans.
But as somebody who now occupies an influential space in today’s new world of entertainment, he should take it under consideration, as should the parents of the kids who look up to him.
I knew there was a good reason I don’t let my kids watch his videos. But I failed to see the other dangers lurking on their tablets.
This situation with Paul forced me to sit up and take notice.
As a parent of two kids at that age where a majority of their screen entertainment is found online, Logan Paul’s irresponsibility scares me to death.
For as closely as I can watch my kids, I know there will be times they watch something they aren’t supposed to. As a former child, I can confirm kids will try to circumvent their parent’s authority at times. That’s just what kids do.
For Christmas, both of my kids got Kindle Fire HDs.
It was the big-ticket item this year.
Almost as soon as they took it out of the box, they downloaded the Musical.ly app.
For the uninitiated, musical.ly is an app that lets users make 15-second music videos using clips from their favorite songs. (It most closely resembles the creation of GIFs, except there is sound.)
Needless to say, my kids love it.
They sit with each other (like, physically next to each other) and crack each other up with their wacky creations.
It is in this moment that I am fairly certain they are causing no harm to anyone, nor are they watching something they shouldn’t watch.
But like a lot of parents, I sometimes use their screens as a babysitter; I am not going to pretend I don’t. On days where my wife works and I’m busy with household chores (or I just want to veg for an hour or so) I will let them retreat to their rooms to play games on their tablet, knowing full well there is an outside chance they will come across something they shouldn’t see.
Until the Logan Paul incident hit, I never really thought about who my kids were watching. My oldest daughter loves Miranda Sings, but I’ve watched her and she is relatively tame. My youngest daughter is intent on watching gymnastics videos.
But what happens when they grow a little older and latch on to a Youtube celebrity who is even worse than Paul?
That person might not be a mainstream attraction but, rather, someone who retreats into the dark recesses of the web and brings their merry band of followers with them.
That’s a scary thought.
When email first became a thing, I was taught from an early age how to use it. But my parents were not of a generation to grow up with it, so they never really grasped the true power of this form of communication.
Email became the technological barrier between my generation and my parent’s generation. The gap between us, at least technologically, remained wide. I viewed email (and, by extension, the internet) as a “place” where I could hang out outside of my parent’s purview. Not only did they not understand it, but they had no desire to learn how to use it. It was something I viewed as unique to me and my friends; it separated us from our parents.
Now that I am a parent, I’d like to believe that I’m savvy enough to never have to worry about my kids using something I don’t understand. But musical.ly has proved me wrong.
I was disheartened to learn a few weeks ago that my oldest child had created a musical.ly clip to make fun of a clip somebody else created. I’m sure my daughter thought she was being funny, but in an age where parents are hyper-sensitive to bullying (both physically and digitally) it was totally uncalled for.
As a parent, I was very embarrassed to hear what happened, and the proper steps have been taken to remediate the situation.
But what’s done is done.
It has forced me to examine how my kids use their tablets, while coming to grips with the fact that they will eventually use something I’m not familiar with, even if it’s not for nefarious means.
Similar to how I treated email and the web with my parents, they will take refuge in this environment, whatever it may be, because my wife and I are not there.
Will they venture so far as to find a place where they can watch inappropriate videos (or worse?) without fear of being caught? I’d like to think we’ve brought them up to know better. But kids will be kids, right?
If we’ve learned anything from Logan Paul (and others like him) it’s that they do not are about who is watching, as long as they make money in the process. The content is secondary to the cash.
So it becomes more evident than ever that it’s up to us, as parents, to ensure we’re keeping an eye on what our kids consume.
It’s perfectly fine to let them embrace technology. (We would be bad parents if we didn’t.)
But there’s a fine line between embracing and abusing.
It’s up to us, as parents and guardians, to keep our kids safe, both online and in real life.