By Ryan Velez
YouTube has created a platform for many people to launch some unconventional careers and brands, but a 6-year-old becoming a millionaire by reviewing toys is likely the strangest one that you’ve heard today. Business Insider has more on RyansToysReview and its young host.
According to Forbes, the family run channel generated about $11 million in pretax income in 2017. This puts him in eighth place, tied with comedy channel Smosh. The Verge did a profile on Ryan and his family last year, and also discovered how the channel came about.
At the time, Ryan was simply a 4-year old who enjoyed other toy-review videos, and asked if he could make his own. Things started slowly until one of his videos caught viral interest, showing Ryan opening up over 100 toys from Pixar’s Cars series. This has roughly $800 million views as of this writing. According to The Verge, the channel's viewership, which boasts a current audience of 10 million subscribers, translates to about $1 million a month in advertising revenue alone.
In The Verge profile, Ryan’s parents try to put reasonable boundaries on their child’s channel. “We post a new video every day, and we typically film two to three videos at a time two to three times per week. We try not to interfere with Ryan’s pre-pre-school schedule, so a majority of the filming takes place during the weekend, and then we’ll edit while he’s in school,” his mother said. Now, the channel has expanded into videos reviewing new toys and food products, as well as other videos showing Ryan going to Disneyland or getting haircuts.
While this seems cute on the surface, and Ryan’s parents seem to be doing their best to let their kid be a kid still, this type of money being made calls ethical questions to the front. “All of the laws for child performers are regulated by the state. The federal government leaves it to them,” said Toni Casala, CEO of Children in Film. “There are seventeen states which basically have basically no child labor laws around performance.”
According to the Texas Workforce Commission, for example, “When a business is owned or operated by a parent or legal custodian, the parent or custodian may employ their own children at any age to work any hours, so long as the work is non-hazardous (not prohibited) and the child works under the parent or custodian’s direct supervision.” Parents may think they have their own Ryan on their hands, but they still need to be parents first.