My daughter Rosie has recently turned three years old, and she is one smart cookie. Anything technological represents no obstacle to Rosie, and on many an occasion we have remarked with wonderment and amazement at her ability to elicit unusual results from the TV or Sky remote simply by touching or throwing it. She'll pick up the remote or even just move it to one side and suddenly we're watching something on the Nigerian channel. She has also mastered Mum's phone upon which she regularly plays with My Talking Angela, a more recent sequel to the games My Talking Ben and My Talking Tom. Not familiar with these games? Look them up, download them, install them on your phone and become hopelessly addicted to feeding, petting washing and putting to bed an animated anthropomorphic cat. You can't do that with Ben, but he's my favourite because of what he does when you ring his phone for him.
However, Rosie has graduated from such things and is now more interested in using Mum's tablet, a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.
Initially, she was able to play some kid-friendly games and she was happy with that. Recently, however, she has become au fait with the vagaries of YouTube, and has discovered some truly bizarro channels in which grown adults will play with kids' toys on a regular basis while talking in a chirpy annoying Midwestern accent.
What's that ya say? Surely they cannot all be weird? Oh, believe me, once you see them, you will have some headscratching moments of gobsmackedness to come.
Give you an example or two? How did I know you were going to ask that?
Let's start you off gently. Here's an example from the Epic Toy Channel...
Then there's the Engineering Family, who apparently have 500,000 subscribers and over 500m monthly views. And tell me I'm wrong but Mr. Engineer (the dad) sounds a bit like Seth Rogen to me. Like Seth Rogen if he was a strange childcare provider.
The Engineering Family also do quite a lot of videos in which they open Kinder Surprise eggs and find out what toys are in them (impending sarcasm warning!!). And yes, that IS as fascinating as it sounds. However, they are not the only ones that do this.
To me, these things are like watching those awful 'unboxing' videos...
Then Rosie seems to have stumbled upon another weird YouTube phenomenon, the proliferation of "Finger Family" videos. You remember the song from preschool, "Peter Pointer, Peter Pointer, where are you?", which is a knockoff in itself of the old nursery rhyme "Where is Thumbkin?".
Well, these people seem to have taken the concept and made it into Finger Family. Mummy Finger, Daddy Finger, Brother Finger etc. and so on and so forth. There are a bunch of those out there, which is odd, since most kids know where their fingers are and don't need to be told a bunch of times. But some have taken it a step further by adding little finger puppets and/or animations into the videos and turning it into something else entirely. For example, I saw one that was a 'superhero' themed video, so there was Hulk Finger alongside Wolverine Finger and Batman Finger. Here is an example, but proceed with caution - what has been seen cannot be unseen.
She's also become a fan of Teletubbies through YouTube, but seems to enjoy watching foreign versions of it.
Then there is the utterly strange Booya channel. These videos are in a league of their own. They take kids' nursery rhymes and create Halloween-related versions of them.
The problem is, especially in the case above, the rhymes are not there. What I mean by that is that Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed works because 'bed' rhymes with 'bumped his head'. Seriously, does five little zombies jumping on the grave work for you? Because I have a major problem with this sort of thing. America, I am sad to say, does that a lot. There used to be a phenomenon in the 90s when I was working in childcare called Piggyback Songs, where in order to teach the concept you were trying to teach, you'd turn it into a song by writing new lyrics to an older song such as Wheels On The Bus or Old MacDonald and using the theory that kids learn better to music to hope that it works. Trouble is, if a kid hears a tune he is familiar with, he only knows the old words, so putting new words to old tunes does not work.
Sometimes these videos blend together...
..this is all kinds of messed up.
However, with my help, Rosie has become a fan of Veggie Tales. Not the story parts, just Silly Songs With Larry. Here's her favourite...
Larry Rules, OK?