I’m 34, and I don’t think my parents knew how good they had it when I was a child. In the ’80s, kids got up early to watch cartoons on TV while their parents slept. Come 9 a.m. or so, cartoons were over, and most channels switched to the morning news or infomercials for Ronco. Basically what I’m trying to say is children’s programming had an end each day.
That isn’t the case anymore. Kids have a non-stop flood of shitty child-focused programming online. And when I say “shitty,” I mean “made in a basement” shitty. YouTube is, hands down, the worst thing that’s happened to children’s programming. And I know there are going to be some prize-winning parents reading this, ready to fill the comment section with advice on limiting screen time. And if you are one of those parents, stop reading now. This isn’t for you. This is for parents like me who long for a moment or two during the day without a child clinging to them, so you toss them the iPad and find yourself watching a bunch of jackasses in spandex (people who deserve the middle finger) singing about Daddy Finger.
Here are a five examples:
1. “Finger Family” Song
It’s a song about fingers and how they are part of a family. It has about a million and one variations online, from princesses to superheroes to zombies to I want to light YouTube on fire.
I don’t know who to blame for this garbage. I don’t know who wrote it, but they honestly need a sharp kick in the face. The song has its own channel on YouTube, and if your child has found it, you know my pain.
2. “Stampy Long Nose”
As if Minecraft wasn’t irritating enough, there are literally a bazillion Minecraft YouTube stars that yack, yack, yack, in nerdy Minecraft inside jokes while playing the game — and Stampy Long Nose is the one I hear the most.
But honestly, it’s not just about Stampy. This really goes out to anyone who’s had to rip a tablet away from their child’s white-knuckled grip because they spent hours listening to some assclown on YouTube narrate Minecraft.
And yes, I know that some of these guys make more in a month than I do in a year. But this isn’t about money. It’s about sanity, and frankly, videos of loud irritating people with pasty skin and little ambition lounging in basements playing Minecraft makes parents say shit like, “What’s the world coming to?” — which is horrible, because that’s what our parents said, making us all feel old and outdated. The cycle is complete.
3. Surprise Egg
How the hell do I explain surprise egg videos? Some dickwad takes a massive egg and fills it with candy and toys. Then they video children opening it and playing with the toys, and post it on YouTube. Millions of children watch it while salivating. It’s not a complicated plot. In fact, it’s so stupid that the first time you watch one with your children, you are blown away by its stupidity.
But then things get more complicated the 800th time you watch one, because you can’t for the life of you understand the appeal, and yet it doesn’t end. They never stop. Surprise egg videos are some sort of relentless juggernaut of a thing that young children understand and parents don’t.
It’s all maddening enough to make you long for your child to watch Caillou, because although Caillou is a whiny shit, at least the show has a plot and a reason.
4. Zool Babies
This is a poorly computer-animated show that plays on the “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” song. The part that bugs me the most about all of it is that each song ends with the mother asking the father to fix the problem. It’s like this twisted Leave It to Beaver ’50s idea that Dad has to fix all of Mom’s problems, which isn’t true — both parents should be fixing the problems. And no one, and I mean no one, is more qualified to scare the hell out of a child jumping on a bed than a mother.
5. “Johny Johny Yes Papa” Song
This is a nursery-rhyme-turned-song about some ass of a kid stealing sugar and lying to his father about it. There are about a million and one versions, each one about as poorly crafted as my 7-year-old’s last art project. It has its own channel — the hell channel.
If I had five minutes left to live, I’d spend them watching the “Johny Johny” song on YouTube, because it feels like an eternity.
Non-parents out there might be asking, “Why do parents allow kids to watch this crap if it’s so irritating?”
I will tell you: There’s something magical about giving your child an iPad so you can use the toilet without your offspring trying to sit on your lap, or so you can make a call to the bank without little hands pulling down your pants, or so you can just sit on the sofa for a moment without your kids clinging to you.
There is something to be said about the wonderful distraction that is screen time. And if that means watching stranger after stranger open a magic egg, so be it.