I can't be the only parent whose children are obsessed. It's time for the BBC to make online content that we can trust—preferably, without the annoying presentersby Rob Manuel / April 8, 2018 / Leave a comment
Reading the news the other morning, I saw the headline “Younger viewers now watch Netflix more than the BBC” and reflected that my own children—aged 6, 9 and 12—never watch the BBC.
They’re all keen gamers, and the only “TV” they really care about is YouTube: endless gameplay videos; walkthroughs; tutorials. Guys just shouting whilst playing games, really.
As a 44-year-old man it’s all rather irrelevant to me. I’ve turned into my own father, going “turn that racket down” about a culture I’ve largely moved on from. Gaming for me ended when my eldest turned Mario Kart into a job that I had to do on a daily basis, attempting to unlock various trophies whilst he shouted “do better, Daddy!”
But as I handed over the gamepad to my kids, little did I know I was giving them an obsession that’s so far lasted their whole lives.
I truly believe that what was pop music to my generation—the possibility of escape from the humdrum into success for just being yourself—has translated into YouTube and video gaming for this generation.
In just one month in 2015, the top 20 children’s channels on YouTube had 5.2 billion views. Gaming channels can have tens of millions of subscribers, from PewDiePie’s 60 million to Fernanfloo’s 26 million. YouTube star Zoella is rumoured to be worth several million pounds. The same research that found younger viewers now watch more Netflix than the BBC also found that 80 per cent of children go to YouTube for “on-demand content.”
Kids want to be YouTube stars. They dream of it like children used to dream of being Kim Wilde or Adam Ant. They make up stories about the channels they’re going to invent, they tell each other about the millions of followers they’ll have.
And the subject is, of course, gaming.
I hear it all through gritted teeth and my occasional shouts of “WHAT DID HE JUST SAY? Turn that one OFF!” Because as any parent can tell you, some of the vlogger culture is toxic. PewdiePie has his Nazi jokes; there’s the guys who pump out ‘yo momma so fat’ and ‘bitch’ and ‘fag’ comments. If you’re not totally policing it, all this goes into your children’s heads.
(Yes, I know there are nice gaming-vloggers like hit Minecraft vlogger, Stampy—but that’s like saying the stew is delicious if you pick the poo out.)
And then it occurred to me… if only the BBC made their own version of this gaming stuff. It would kill two birds with one stone. Parents could feel safe their kids wouldn’t be exposed to bad material and the the BBC could make some content that kids actually want.
This could save the BBC.
And so I tweeted it—and 1000 favourites later, a lot of people agreed.
As a public service broadcaster I genuinely think the BBC should make long form gaming vlogger videos on YouTube but presented by people who aren't sexist, alt-right or swearing all the time. Parents need this as it's what kids watch.
— Rob Manuel (@robmanuel) March 29, 2018
“As a public service broadcaster I genuinely think the BBC should make long form gaming vlogger videos on YouTube but presented by people who aren’t sexist, alt-right or swearing all the time. Parents need this as it’s what kids watch.”
It’s like the 1960s: all the kids were listening to pop music on pirate stations and the BBC was in danger of losing their audience. They ummed and ahhed about it because playing pop music was seen as advertising for records. Eventually, they invented Radio 1.
That’s what they need to do again.
And not as a half-arsed little project, a few hours here, and a few hours there; this needs to be a project as big as launching a new station.
It needs to be made exactly in the vlogging format but with the BBC quality control that means parents know it’s a safe babysitter.
(Yes, I know in an ideal world we’d all vet every single bit of media our children consume, but with the reality of earning a living and finding time to sleep this is simply not possible. Shut up in the comments.)
Parents and kids need this: “BBC Gamers” and for it to be both broadcast and on Youtube.
Come on Beeb. This is your public duty. I will personally pay a double licence fee if you do this and Mumsnet will give you a knighthood.
Oh, and finally, here’s an idea for the audition process: put some working parents in a room and have have the presenters excitedly shouting about unboxing Pokemon cards in the room next door. If the parents’ blood pressure increases, do not, and I repeat, do not hire them.