Photo: Endemol Shine UK

Kids are motivated to create content for YouTube by a variety of factors. One of the most popular motivators?: YouTube creators they admire, according to Randy Kulman, Ph.D., of LearningWorks for Kids. “Creating Let’s Play videos inspired by DanTDM is a little bit like a kid playing basketball pretending to be LeBron James or Stephen Curry,” he said. “It’s a way to model oneself after an iconic figure.”

With so many young people finding inspiration in DanTDM — at 14.9 million subscribers he’s one of the most popular YouTube creators in the world — we thought parents might also find inspiration from him. Before his recent Bay Area stops on the DanTDM tour, we asked DanTDM — aka Daniel Middleton — about what parents should know about their kids and YouTube.

Toca Magazine: It’s commonplace for kids today to aspire to be content creators on YouTube. What is it about YouTube that draws so many kids in?

DanTDM: YouTube is such an accessible platform. Search a person, a game, a question and someone, somewhere will have posted a video about it. It transcends countries, languages, time zones — and in that way it’s a truly amazing platform, able to bring people across the world together.

In this sense, as a kid watching, I can totally see that it feels meaningful and important to engage with. You can be in the comfort of your own home, finding like-minded people across the globe to communicate and learn from. It’s pretty amazing. In terms of becoming a content creator, it is a pretty incredible job and one I love.

One thing I will say though is that I’ve had to work really hard on learning to edit, write and conceive stories, make soundtracks, teach myself about digital marketing, SEO and more. Everything I use and have learned through doing YouTube was all self-taught. It’s not an easy option and as well as working really hard, there are always elements of luck too. I’m very thankful and of course anyone else who wants to have a go — do it!

Toca Magazine: What would you tell the parent who isn’t yet on board with their kid starting a YouTube channel but is open to the idea? What should this parent know?

DanTDM: YouTube isn’t the enemy! As soon as you realize that and embrace the concept it’ll get so much easier. One thing I love about being a creator is there in the name: I get to create. Every day I’m using my imagination, coming up with stories and videos that I think my followers will love; conceiving of and creating characters and creating a story arc for them; artfully editing and adding music to bring new layers to the stories and most importantly communicating and growing with my fans. It’s been a huge learning curve for me, allowing me to become a more confident and digitally intelligent and aware person. As soon as you learn and experience YouTube as a platform WITH your kids, you can both learn and enjoy it.

Toca Magazine: How can parents gain a better understanding of the creative part of launching a YouTube channel?

DanTDM: If a parent can try and engage with their kid and ask them what channels they are watching and go and watch them it would help massively. For me, I started off making Minecraft videos. Loads of parents couldn’t work out why their kids loved watching me and also loved playing this game so much. But Minecraft is a really creative game. It’s about using the creative and artistic side of your mind to build communities. It’s seriously engaging and pretty inspiring too — you could have a future architect or engineer on your hands! The same goes for whatever kind of channel your child is trying to create. They have to think about where they film it — learning to use the equipment, how the video is edited — to show off the filming that has been done and create a good story arc; compose music; create characters … the list is endless. There is so much artistic and creative endeavor involved in launching a channel.

Toca Magazine: Once a parent is on board with their kid creating a channel, what advice do you have for them?

DanTDM: Find out as much as you can, ask questions and delve deeper into the world of YouTube together. What channels and creators are they watching, and why? What do they like about them? What inspires them when watching these people? What would they like to try and replicate in their own channels? Can you help them with any of it?

Be aware of the comments on a video, as the comments area can be extremely critical and you can get trolls and negative feedback — I get so much. But don’t heed it and keep going. If they know you are there to support them and encourage them, that’s the best support.

Toca Magazine: A parent who has never watched a DanTDM video is taking their kid to your show. Is there anything you can tell them about what to expect (no spoilers!)?

DanTDM: One of the best things about doing this tour across the world has been the parents’ reaction to it. They have loved it. Often they tell me I’m like a member of the family, and seeing and hearing me in person has been great! The story involves characters from my channel as well as a few new ones, and it’s a super-fun adventure about good vs. evil, playing games and getting everyone involved!

Toca Magazine: What’s up next for DanTDM? Where can fans expect to see Dan in the offline world?

DanTDM: I’ve got so much I want to do and being able to bring my fans with me on the adventure has been a dream come true. The USA tour finishes at the end of July, then I’m back to Australia and New Zealand … then let’s see what the future holds!

Find out if the DanTDM tour is coming to your town.