Librarian's Research Focuses on Child Stars of Viral Videos

Interesting story from Rutgers University about an academic librarian who is pursuing a study of what happens to children in popular YouTube videos after their fifteen minutes/seconds of fame have ended.

Child-centric viral videos are turning young stars into internet sensations, but a Rutgers–Camden researcher warns against exploiting the children by cashing in on the fame.

“We just don’t know what kinds of affect this internet fame will have on these children in the future,” says Katie Elson Anderson, a librarian at the Paul Robeson Library on the Rutgers–Camden campus.

Anderson has examined the implications of the YouTube videos for her essay, “Configuring Childhood on the Web,” which is featured as a chapter in the book Portrayals of Children in Popular Culture: Fleeting Images (Lexington Books, 2012).

“Viral videos starring children have become a real phenomenon,” Anderson says. “David After Dentist,” the video in which a father taped his young son dealing with the effects of anesthesia, has been viewed more than 117 million times. “Charlie Bit My Finger,” in which a baby boy bites his big brother, has been seen more than 511 million times.

“I think the early videos — the ones with Charlie and David, for example — were organic,” Anderson says. “People didn’t really know that these videos could become viral. They just posted videos for family. Now, it seems that people are posting videos because they are seeing the fame that can result from it. There’s actually money to be made.”

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