Digital tambayans and the truth about being a social media star

Digital tambayans and the truth about being a social media star

BROAD CAST - Jing Castañeda (Philstar.com) - February 1, 2021 - 12:00am

Last weekend, my husband and I had a different kind of movie night. We ended up watching random TikTok and YouTube videos, including the viral sensations Rosmar and Pambansang Kolokoy.

In our Teleradyo interview, Rosmar says she earns over P500,000 a month not including endorsement deals. Not bad for someone who has no agent or formal training, and uses a basic camera set up right in her own home.

But even that is spare change compared to what successful YouTubers and Twitch streamers can make. According to Forbes, the highest-earning YouTuber in the world is nine-year-old Ryan Koji of Ryan’s World, which has toy unboxing videos, DIY science experiments, and family story time. He  earned $29.5 million from views, ads, and licensing fees from his own line of branded merchandise ranging from toothpaste to walkie talkies.

Another new kid on the millionaire’s block is 6-year-old Nastya (Anastasia Radzinskaya), who earned $18.95 million from YouTube and Tiktok views. If you watch her channel, she seems like any other preschooler who likes to play and has a wild imagination. One video where she pretends to be a police cop who pulls her dad over for breaking traffic rules, got 90 million views.

The internet dream: Myth and reality

No wonder kids today—who grew up watching PewdiePie and Jake Paul—no longer dream about being a doctor or a teacher, but “becoming a YouTube/Tiktok/Twitch star.”

They think it’s easy money, but frankly, the odds of earning millions from a channel are only slightly higher than winning the lotto. Fortune magazine said that 96.5% of YouTubers will barely earn more than minimum wage. Another report by Washington Post says that 90% of ad revenue goes to the channels in the top 3%--leaving very little opportunity for anyone who’s trying to break into the business.

So what should you say if your child has dreams of being an Internet star? Personally, I’d let him start a channel for fun. He can talk about his hobby, develop his communication skills and creativity, learn how to use editing tools, and even learn about marketing and search engine optimization. These skills are necessary in the digital age.

But I would watch for signs that he is becoming too obsessed with likes, views and potential sales for “putting himself out there” – and the Internet has a way of magnifying both positive and negative effects. He may either get a confidence boost from positive comments, or be bullied by trolls. He can enjoy creating, or he can feel pressured to make content that “people like.”

I think kids need to be kids, and as parents, you’re the best person to gauge if your child has the personality and the maturity to handle becoming a professional content creator.

Raising a digital native

The Internet is not a cashcow or a solution to all problems—but that being said, I don’t think you should go to the extreme and think that the “Internet is Evil.” It’s a platform, and for our kids, it’s part of their world. They are true digital natives, who can’t even remember a time when you couldn’t Google everything or order food from an app. When we describe life before Internet, they look at us like we’re talking about the time of Rizal.

I think instead of banning the Internet and rebelling against the digital revolution, we should strive to give our kids balance, critical thinking, and purpose.

  • Balance. They can’t spend the whole day on their phones or gadgets. They need time with family, hobbies that use their hands, exercise or physical activity, and time alone. The constant barrage of information does not allow them to reflect or process, or tune things out to be more aware of their feelings.
  • Critical thinking. Because of internet algorithms, the content you see on the Internet is based on what you frequently read or watch. That can create a “bubble of reality” where they don’t discover new things, or even worse, become vulnerable to fake news and false reports. As your child grows older, it’s important to teach him how to think for himself, so he doesn’t get swept up into whatever he reads on the Internet.
  • Purpose. The Internet is powerful, but the benefits depend entirely on how it’s used. You can use it to inform, entertain, connect, and even increase your income.Or, you can waste 12 hours a day watching silly videos and engaging in a forum’s flame wars.

This is where parental guidance is really needed. We are not just “Internetpolice” who count the hours they use their gadgets or control the apps that they use. We teach them how to use the Internet to their advantage.

This involves many conversations and everyday teaching moments. During the lockdown, KC encouraged her two kids (aged 10 and 15) to think of a way to help frontliners. “Even if we donated money, the kids won’t feel it because they didn’t earn or do anything. I wanted them to feel personally involved,” she said.

The kids decided to bake cookies and sell them to friends, relatives and neighbors. “The kids designed the poster on Canva, then came up with their ideas for promoting it.  They posted it on their school chats, and personally emailed or messaged relatives. They raised P15,750 and chose the group to donate it to,” she said.

It was a real-life lesson in compassion,citizenship, and Internet marketing.

The Digital Tambayan

For me, the Internet has become a new way of pursuing my passion for journalism and public service, and sharing advocacies that are close to my heart.

I’ve been in broadcasting for more than 20 years. Looking back, the moments I really enjoyed weren’t when I was facing a camera in a studio, but meeting and interacting with my viewers and those I interview for my stories. I feel energized from our conversation, and fulfilled when I see them get the information or help they were looking for.

The digital shows have a cozy, kuwentuhan feel. PBB winner and actress Maymay Entratajoined me for one of my episodes. Hang out with me every night!

While I still have my television show, my digital shows on Facebook, YouTube and Kumu are my new playground. I still make sure to keep the journalism standards—checking facts, getting real experts, getting different sides—while keeping the cozy, kuwentuhan feel that make Internet such a relaxing watch. Viewers can also send questions anytime, so it’s really like making chika in a coffee shop—except you’re hanging out with experts.

It was wonderful talking to the TNT Boys (Keifer Sanchez, Mackie Empuerto and Francis Concepcion) on life behind the glitz and glamour of showbiz.

We have Pamilya Mondays (6 p.m.), where we talk about societal issues affecting the family, parenting and relationships, and we invite not just experts but family members who can share their own take on an important issue. On KasamBuhay ChooseDay (or should I say, Tuesday 7 p.m.), we ask you to chooseissues that affect you as a consumer—and even some negosyo ideas and inspiring entrepreneur stories.

On Wednesdays at 6 p.m., we have Okay, Doc where we talk about health—a topic that’s close to my heart, from my years with Salamat Dok, as well as covering the health beat on TV Patrol. You can even ask our panel of experts about your health concerns, like a free consultation.

In TJIF - Tita Jing It’s Friday (9 p.m.), we celebrate the end of the workweek with inspiring stories and fun topics like food reviews. On Saturdays (9 p.m.), we have Rated S-P-G (Showbiz, Pamilya, Gimik, at iba pa) where we hang out with showbiz co-hosts like Ambet Nabus and other celebrities.  We’re able to take a peek into their family life and advocacies.

Another reason I love doing these shows is that I have very special consultants—my children. They’re teaching me how to navigate this digital world, from social media to setting up my laptop. It has become a new bonding activity, and a natural way for us to have honest conversations about how Internet affects their life.

There’s so much to learn about the Digital World, but it’s fun to learn it together. Join us and let’s hang out together every night on Facebook, YouTube and Kumu, and let’s continue to journey together as fellow travellers, as KasamBuhays.


I’d love to hear from you! Share your stories and tips or suggest topics at jingcastaneda21@gmail.com. You can also follow my social media accounts: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Kumu and Twitter.

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