"I stumbled upon a YouTube video that truly shocked me. Now I’m freaking out about my kids."

I used to think that I was a “cool mum”. You know, like Amy Poehler in Mean Girls?

I’m down with the kids. I have Instagram, and I let my kids watch YouTube. I straighten my four-year-old daughter’s hair if she asks me to. I know how to ‘floss’. Granted, a fellow mum had to describe the dance move to me and then send me a video of it until I finally understood, but at least I know that flossing is a dance move and not about dental hygiene.

Well, I thought I was cool, until I glimpsed a video on YouTube called HOW TO KISS! *TUTORIAL*, and then lost my mind in a spiral of panic.

I was innocently trawling YouTube for videos of Nico Tortorella (Josh from Younger), who I am obsessed with because they are a gender fluid babe. Like I said, I’m a cool mum! I have crushes and I use YouTube! And then I stumbled upon a video that truly shocked me: an instructional video by two youngsters name Maddie Joy and Elijah Wireman, also known as “Maddie and Elijah” which was called HOW TO KISS! *TUTORIAL*.

In the video, the popular YouTubing couple (they have 397,481 subscribers at the time of writing) explain and demonstrate how to execute the perfect kiss. They appear to be in their teens, or their early twenties at the most. I don’t know much more about it, because I only watched the first thirty seconds* before I began to worry that I was being creepy or something, and also I began to freak out about the future of my children.

I know, my reaction was pretty ridiculous. I mean, a video of teens kissing? To misquote The Devil Wears Prada: “Groundbreaking.” There are things on the internet that are far more shocking than that. Trust me, I was as perplexed about my spin-out as anyone else. I thought I was a cool mum, and yet I was unhinged by two sweet, innocent kids trying to help other kids master the art of kissing? Maddie and Elijah even said that you shouldn’t kiss anyone unless you love them, otherwise the experience would be meaningless. Their second tip is to have fresh breath. That is so cute. I’m obviously a monster, and on the express train to Frumptown, changing at Old Fart Station.


You can watch the YouTube tutorial below, if you’re curious.

(*Okay, so I watched the entire six minute, forty-four second video for the sake of this article, and seriously, Maddie and Elijah seem like good kids. Elijah says that you could even just do a kiss on the forehead for a first kiss. So chaste! The video has nothing raunchy at all, and is mostly practical advice like using lip balm so your lips are soft, and making eye contact. Maddie and Elijah are more comparable to a tween show on Nickelodeon than Kylie Jenner’s Instagram. That said, they do have a video called LICK MY BODY CHALLENGE!!)


Back to my freak-out. First of all, I developed an obsession about The Future of Maddie and Elijah. As in, what if they broke up one day, and married other people, and their future partners saw this kissing video and were spurred into a jealous rage, and then their new partners would spend more and more time playing aggressive games of squash every weeknight, leaving Maddie and Elijah home alone and lonely?

My next concern was about Maddie and Elijah’s employment prospects. Is YouTube the new tattoo? As in, would an employer not hire Maddie or Elijah, because they found a video online of them kissing? On one hand, the video is an example of their use of social media to create training materials, so that’s a plus. On the other hand, would an employer be unable to take them seriously because they keep having visions in their heads of young Maddie and Elijah pashing? Their video has over five million views – it’s possible.

Then, of course, came my source of eternal worry: my own children. Is this what their futures looked like – turning to a screen to figure out the most intimate manoeuvres of life, instead of asking me, their ultra-hip mum who is totally willing to talk about, like, sex and stuff? And their dad! Their dad is also cool! We can talk to them together! We’ve got this! Lots of other people ask us for advice! Ask us! Don’t Google it!

This, dear readers, is why I can never sleep at night!


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Nothing is more mind-boggling than new technology for an older mind. My youngest brother, who is fourteen years my junior, once had to explain Snapchat to me several times until I claimed that I “got it”, when in fact, I still didn’t understand it, but I wanted him to think I was still cool and young, so I shut up. (“But…it disappears?!” was uttered frequently by yours truly, in a vain attempt to grasp the transient, ephemeral nature of life online as a young person.)


Here’s the thing. Maddie and Elijah are totally fine, and don’t need an old fart like me worrying about them. It is all too easy to cast the younger generation as hapless digital natives, who upload videos without thought or agency. Instead, I see Maddie and Elijah as savvy adults who have absolute control over what they create and upload.

Yes, they are adorable, but being photogenic and perky doesn’t cancel out being intelligent and in control. They don’t need to worry about what future employers will think of them, because they are future employers. They sell their own merch – t-shirts and hoodies with drawings of their faces on them – and no doubt profit from ad sales and the occasional affiliate link. And more power to them.

It’s time for me to examine whether I really am a cool mum. Maybe when it comes to technology, I’m not. I don’t use Facebook any more, and don’t post photos of my kids’ faces online. I don’t let them use my iPad for games, because 1) It’s mummy’s toy, and 2) I’d rather them play with a physical thing, rather than a digital game. That’s not to say that my children are screen-free. They watch a lot more TV and Netflix and YouTube (my two-year-old son loves Blippi) than I’d like, mostly when I’m unstacking the dishwasher or cooking dinner. I may let my children run around and scream, eat chocolate biscuits for breakfast and buy them toys when I promised myself I wouldn’t, but when it comes to technology, I’m the strict, mean mum.

My children beg me to let them do Reading Eggs or ABC Mouse on the iPad, but I tell them no. They also want to learn how to type on my laptop, and I say no. They have their whole schooling lives and their adult lives, to type away. I think that this time that I have with them should be all about getting messy and imagining things, and not hitting keys or swiping.


I know that I am being hypocritical. My career is in digital media, and I love it and I’m grateful for the internet. But the internet is a place for adults, not kids.

How would you go living without technology? We take a look at what it takes to become a tech-free family, on our podcast for imperfect parents.

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And this is the part where I am forced to admit that, perhaps, I am not as young as I’d like to be. There is a generational difference between myself, Maddie and Elijah, and even more so between myself and my kids. My children will use technology and the internet for things I couldn’t even fathom, considering that the idea of e-mail blew my mind as a teen.

At the same time, there are fundamental aspects of being a teen that will transcend technology. Hormones and sexuality are on that list. As a teenager, I was obsessed with getting a boyfriend and having that first kiss. I only just squeezed those experience into my teens, as I was almost 20. But boy, had I researched that kiss. It may have been pre-internet, but I still tried my hardest to find out how to be a good kisser. I read magazines, books and paid close attention to any kissing scenes on Home and Away.


But here’s three things I never did: I never asked my peers, because it was definitely too embarrassing for me to admit that I’d never had a boyfriend (now, I’m like, GO TEENAGE ME! You don’t need no MAN!), I never practiced on a real human being, and I never asked my parents for kissing advice. I can say that teenage Carla would have definitely been grateful and appreciative for Maddie and Elijah’s “How to Kiss” video, and would have watched it several times and taken notes so as to be as prepared as possible.

So, thank you, Maddie and Elijah. Now that I’ve seen your whole kissing tutorial video, and looked around your channel, I’m grateful that you’re out there, telling kids that they’re going to be okay. You’re in love and happy, and you want to share that with the world – and that’s awesome. If you two can make it in this crazy world, then there’s hope for us all. Okay, maybe I’m a fan now. Can you babysit my kids, if you’re ever in Canberra? They need great role models like you guys. And I’d be so proud if they grew up to be nice kids like you.

PS. Teenage Carla would also want to know: But what do you do with your lips? And tongue? And how do you find someone who wants to kiss you in the first place?

Carla Gee is a writer and illustrator living in Canberra, and figures that when her kids are adults, they will visit her via holographic technology. You can find her on Instagram as @bycarlagee and @littlecloudcarla.