It’s not all entertainment when creating digital content for kids

  • With over 20 million subscribers, ChuChu TV now revamps nursery rhymes to include morals
  • The Pororo animated series teaches children survival instincts and promotes inclusion

 

It’s not all entertainment when creating digital content for kids

 

AT MDEC’s Kre8tif! Conference on Aug 8, one of the sessions focused on YouTube Kids creator journeys and the future of learning.

Chief executive officer (CEO) of ChuChu TV, Vinoth Chandar, and managing director of Iconix, Dongsu Jung shared how they took the road less travelled by creating educational content for children.

Also present at the session was Donald John Anderson, YouTube’s Asia-Pacific head of kids and learning partnerships, and Sanoop Luke, YouTube Family and Learning lead for Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia.

“The world of content has never been more exciting and unpredictable than today. There’s just so many choices,” Anderson says. Among the choices available are ChuChu TV, a Chennai-based YouTube channel for kids with over 20 million subscribers, and Iconix, a Korean-based animation studio that created Pororo the Little Penguin and Tayo the Little Bus.

Although this particular speaker session was centred mainly on kids’ learning, Luke took the opportunity to highlight YouTube’s role in educating and teaching across all age groups. “For example, the how-to tutorials make it possible to learn whatever you want. It’s a major revolution that democratises learning.”

With YouTube’s capacity to provide a bevy of interactive content and ease of access, content creators like Chandar and Jung also use it as a platform for entertaining and educating children. The session shed light on YouTube’s digital role of bridging the real-world transition from childhood to adulthood.

The ChuChu TV calling from humble beginnings

According to Chandar, ChuChu TV started by chance, “I started making videos in 2013 to amuse my two-year-old daughter whom I affectionately call Chuchu.” Prior to 2013, Chandar and his Chuchu TV counterparts held full-time jobs servicing clients with their technical skills in app and web development.

Nonetheless, Chandar also dabbled in creating media content saying it is an area that was always close to his heart. “In 2001, we came up with Hindi and Tamil ringtone websites which attracted millions of downloads.”

“When ChuChu TV finally happened, we were able to connect our media DNA with YouTube’s technology,” Chandar says. Within two weeks of uploading the first video clip, ChuChu TV garnered around 300,000 subscribers, with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star being one of its early hits.

Since traction of the channel continued to build, Chandar decided to put all his effort into ChuChu TV. Crediting YouTube, Chandar says there is no way his first clip, Chubby Cheeks, would have gained popularity if he opted to send it to a broadcaster and awaited approval.

“The only platform I had was YouTube which I believe is a boon to all creators. We love to keep kids happy and we do this very sincerely,” explains Chandar.

However, the task of being a content creator is not void of challenges. With such a large following on the channel, ChuChu TV has created a community for parents and educators alike. “We do receive criticism but we take it in stride and improve our content,” Chandar says.

Giving an example, Chandar says they received negative comments because the first few characters introduced were of fairer complexion. “We then introduced two characters with darker complexion to promote inclusion across all our viewer demographics.”

Deciding to take their content up a notch from colourful graphics and catchy nursery rhymes, ChuChu TV has recently started creating original songs as well as revamping the lyrics of some nursery rhyme classics.

“Many nursery rhymes lack meaning or positive messages. So we offer a positive spin,” Chandar says. The first song ChuChu TV rewrote was Jack and Jill, which compared to the classic version, presents a clear moral to learn from.

Promoting survival instincts and inclusion through animation

As for Iconix, Jung says, “We were a YouTube content producer before, but now we are channel owners.”

From five years ago, the volume of content produced by Iconix has multiplied by a 100 times, made possible by working with various companies to create music, learning tools, games and more.

But behind Iconix’s content lies an important reason driving its creation. “I have two daughters and I always wonder what they will become when they’re adults,” Jung says.

To Jung, it does not matter what career his daughters embark upon, “I just want to see my daughters being loved by people around them. The more important thing is how they work with the people around them, not what they will become.”

With a major in psychology, it is no wonder that Jung takes it upon himself to help children through his storytelling.

“How can we lead children towards success? I think we need to teach them to become coordinators rather than specialists in the future.”

Through digital media, Jung shares problems that children face daily from their view and tells problem-solving stories. He explains that his stories encourage children to be Thoughtful, Caring and Kind (TCK).

To illustrate his point, Jung explains, “When my daughters make a mistake, my wife tells them to apologise, compensate for the loss and never do it again. But this only shows the conclusion to a problem, not the process.”

With his animated series, like Pororo the Little Penguin, children are able to witness Pororo play innocent, make excuses and run away when he makes a mistake. “These are survival skills that kids learn from the series and I tell my children that I used these skills too,” Jung shares.

He adds that this encourages inclusion and teaches survival instincts which most parents forgo, “This way, my kids realise that they’re not that different from me and won’t feel as though they are weird or strange.”

 

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