PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Inside the Jackson’s Chester Springs home, brothers Braylon, Bennett and Brycen have built-in playmates but recently hit it off with a friend they’ve never met.

“Ryan has become the friend that we don’t really know, but we know through YouTube,” said Courtney Jackson, the boys’ mom.

Maybe it’s because he plays with the same toys they like or introduces them to new ones… one thing’s for certain. Courtney says her kids have made quite the connection, especially 3-year-old Bennett.

“It’s always I want to watch Ryan. If we let him, he would probably jump from one video to another and be on there for hours,” explained Courtney.

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Call it a modern day playdate, an iPad pal, if you will. Since launching less than three years ago, Ryan Toys Review has become one of the most popular YouTube channels in the world, with $12.5 million subscribers and $19 billion views.

According to Forbes, Ryan brought in $11 million last year.

So, what’s the attraction to watching another child play? And should parents be concerned?

“These videos, as long as they’re appropriate developmental content, are no more worrisome than watching a tv show,” said Dr. Meghan Walls, a pediatric psychologist at Nemours Dupont Hospital for Children.

She says it comes down to kids craving new information.

“YouTube has created this world where there’s unparalleled access to content and new content and novelty is really something kids seek, so their brains like that, they like this new experience,” said Walls.

They also learn by watching.

“And what we know about that observational learning is that when kids watch others, they feel more confident doing it themselves,” Walls says.

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Just so long as it’s not all they’re doing.

“Normal routines, going to school, doing homework. So, if this is small piece of life, but we don’t want to let it take over,” said Walls.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an hour or less of screen time for kids two to five years old and zero time for kids under eighteen months. Once kids are school-aged, it’s up to families to use their discretion.

Dr. Walls says if you allow your child to access these videos, you should be within eye and earshot of them as you can never be sure of what could pop up next.

 

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