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How YouTube Makes Folks With Sad Kids Rich

David after dentist

Parents profiting off of a child's misery?

Last week in teeth-gnashing, we featured the video of Hannah, a crying 4-year-old whose mother recorded the girl’s anguish over moving to Japan. It’s a tough video to watch — I couldn’t find anything cute about it. And more than one commenter wondered what the mother was thinking sharing such a personal moment on YouTube.

Maybe she was thinking “David After Dentist,” the video of a seven-year-old still loopy from his trip to the dentist. Not everyone thought that video was cute, either. But who needs anonymous approval when two minutes from your child’s life can now pay for their college and then some.

How much, exactly?

More than $100,000. “Significantly more,” David’s father, David Devore, told American Public Media’s Marketplace last week. “The low six figures.”

For that? Indeed. In addition to getting money from Hot Topic t-shirts emblazoned with David’s solipsistic line from the video, “Is this real life?” and from stickers and T-shirts Devore and the family sell independently, they also get money from YouTube.

Here’s how it works: When “David After Dentist” showed that it was not only popular, but that it could continue bringing in viewers, Devore partnered with YouTube, who then ran ads next to the video. The Devores are one of only about 10,000 YouTube partners (sounds like there are a lot of them, but consider how many millions of videos have already been uploaded to YouTube).

Another young success story — financially successful, at least — includes Lucas Cruikshank, a 16-year-old whose Fred videos lured a half-billion viewers and a movie deal plus sequel. There’s something odd and heartbreaking about those videos, too. (Is he riffing on his real life or just THAT good at helium-sucking/improv?)

With endorsement deals and that kind of money on the line, do you still think David’s dad and Hannah’s mom are big meanies? Is there a difference between this and taking your young children on auditions or submitting their photos for BabyGap contests? How about writing about them (guilty!) or even posting their pictures (and videos) on Facebook?

The “David” video never bothered me. The Hannah one feels icky to watch — but I watched it until the very end.

Maybe Hannah’s mom is actually exploiting me.

Photo: youtube/booba1234579

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