“My 12-year-old sister wants to be a Youtube Blogger. But I won’t let her.”

First thing’s first, you need to know a few things about my talented, hilarious, creative sister.

She’s never been the type of girl to enjoy sport or the great outdoors. She tried dancing for awhile, we tried to talk her into netball – “all your friends are doing it, c’mon!” – and finally we got so desperate that I take her to the beach each weekend for a swim. You can imagine my delight when it’s cold. We just needed to get her out of the house every once in awhile because she is seemingly glued to the screen of her computer.

So basically, she’s an indoors person.

Via iStock.

And as anyone who hasn't been living under a rock will know, technology is taking over aka the perfect provider of indoor activities. I'm only eight years older than my sister, but in those days playing snake on your parents phone was the greatest source of entertainment. Now there are music videos to be watched, shows to live-stream, celebrity gossip to catch up on, and most importantly, total strangers to watch as they do ordinary things on Youtube.

And Youtube is where my problems lie. You see, my sister is a technological whiz. She started an online blog about a year ago, which doesn't have any pictures of her, her real name or age anywhere in sight, but does have her writing about her favourite online game, Fantage, to other fans of the dress up website. She has about 100 followers, most of whom also keep their identities secret. She interacts with her anonymous followers on a daily basis, talking mostly about the game and their hobbies. It's a bit of innocent fun, and for along time that was enough for my sister.

Did you see last night's vlog?: YOU DREAMT WHAT?

Posted by Zoella on Monday, 14 March 2016

Until she saw people posting on Youtube.

Youtube as a mechanism for video-sharing has only been around since 2006. But in that time we've seen ordinary people (with a bit of talent behind the camera/with a makeup brush/or video games) shoot into the realms of celebrity status just because they build a "fandom" dedicated to loving... well, them. Depending on how popular you are depends on how often you post videos, but in essence some young people are making a LIVING off sharing their personal lives online. Youtube pays them. Advertisers pay them. PR companies pay them. The more interesting their house, travel plans, and high profile friends the better.


Posted by PointlessBlog on Monday, 14 March 2016

My sister, like any girl who watches people earning serious money for doing something she could do in her bedroom, wants to start a Youtube channel. And just like that her anonymous blog becomes public, opening her up for scrutiny from total strangers about things she can't change or didn't know she had to. Because her one-size-fits-only-one face will be out their for the world to see. And judge. And nit-pick at. All before she even becomes a teenager.

I know what you're thinking. Why doesn't she make videos and put them on a private setting? Disable comments? Make her profile picture a character from Looney Tunes? There are ways of protecting her, you're saying to yourself. And you're right. The only problem is, my sister isn't interested in being anonymous. If she's creating something, she wants to be in it, on it and around it. Which is when it goes from an innocent hobby to a narcissistic platform for self admiration. She'll thrive on subscribers positive comments and falter at their negative taunts. I know her. I know what kind of hold she has over her own self esteem. And I know it's certainly not strong enough to take a beating day after day from cowardly strangers.


The issue is, she's good at what she does. She's an excellent editor. Brilliant at photography. Exquisite public speaker. Clever writer. And she wants to turn those skills into a profession. She just wants to do it so young, and that's what I'm so afraid of. There is no way of people knowing how the whole world is going to react to them, but I don't think I'm ready for her to find out. I told her to wait until she's 18, sentiments echoed by our mother too, but she sees that as a perfect injustice. "It's SO far away!" she says. True. But for good reason.
I did some research before writing this piece because I wanted to see how far the Youtube blogging takes over a person's life. You know, when they reach the levels of Youtube "fame". Turns out, it changes their entire way of living. They let their commenters see what they look like, who their partner is, what their house looks like (once they've cleaned it), what they put into their morning breakfast smoothie, what mail they've received, which park they go for walks in, which gym they visit, where they holiday, what their mum looks like post-surgery, how they tidy their fridge... and that was just on one young girl's channel.

When they go through breakups, acne, illness, grief, marriage, birth, or plastic surgery, the camera is there, steadied to record the moment for their fans. I get it's a way of interacting, but these people don't know you. You don't owe them your right to privacy, so why are thousands of young people giving it away for money?

And why does my sister want that life at just 12?

At the moment the option is off the table. She's severely disappointed, and probably hoping our family will change its mind, but we're not so sure. What would you do?