MIAMI (CBS4) – Nineteen month old Micah has a great laugh, and 31-million people from around the world know it, thanks to a home video his father posted for friends and family on YouTube.
The video of Micah laughing went viral and started racking up millions of hits.
“We were just in shock,” his father explained.
Micah is part of a growing breed of little Web stars who are gaining worldwide fame, often before they’re even out of diapers.
“They’re cute, they’re funny, they, some of them have sound bites that people quote,”said Damian Collier, CEO of “Viral Spiral,” a group that represents parents who find they have a YouTube hit on their hands.
He says in addition to fame, there’s also a potential fortune to be made on these videos.
“Brand sponsorship, product placements, websites, books, TV shows,” said Collier.
One example is the father who posted the “David after dentist” video and reportedly earned more than $150,000 in ad revenue, merchandise and licensing.
There were also the two dancing twins. Their video scored them a commercial. Lily was also asked to be in an ad where she literally bawled with excitement over a surprise trip to Disneyland.
“Anything that is cute or funny I would say is hugely in demand,” Collier pointed out.
But child and teen development specialist Dr. Robyn Silverman, who cautions parents to think before they upload.
“You never want to demean them, take advantage of them or embarrass them in any way, because this is going to live online forever,” said Silverman. “And be sure to take safety precautions because once you upload it, you can’t control who watches. Sometimes parents will carelessly put geographic markers on their videos, say their full name, say the child’s full name, where the child goes to school. All of those things could put your child at risk.”
And ask questions if a third-party wants to use the video.
“It would be very easy to exploit young children by dubbing something nefarious or something that is a little less savory than the parents might like,” said Silverman.
As for Micah, he now has the start of a college fund thanks to his YouTube hit. But that’s not what makes his dad smile the most.
“The fact that my son’s laugh could bring that kind of happiness to people around the world was, was… felt really good.”
But remember, by uploading a video, you are starting your child’s online portfolio, which will live with him or her for the rest of their lives.
Experts suggest you ask yourself, “in 10-years will my child be proud of this video? Or embarrassed?” Because what goes online, stays online forever.