This Kid Is The World's Biggest YouTube Celebrity

Well, I hope you're ready to feel inadequate because a child who only recently gained the ability to practice basic motor functions is more successful than you may ever be. He's also cute as the dickens. Meet Ryan, who at age 4, had the most-viewed YouTube channel in the United States, besting video content providers with billions of dollars at their disposal. Ryan isn't just killing the game, he's playing the game—because Ryan's whole schtick is that he plays with rad toys for massive views. Welcome to the 21st century, everybody!

So what's going on here?

What's going on is Ryan ToysReview, a YouTube channel that emerged in 2016 and promptly began a swift takeover of the internet's attention span. It's not that hard to root out why: toy unboxing is a popular (and profitable) online endeavor, and Ryan is fun to watch doing it. There's a refreshing sense of true amateurishness to the whole operation. At a time when YouTube often feels like a curated collection of staged and overproduced content, the semi-planned spontaneity and half-committed bits of Ryan ToysReview impart legitimate charm. The spirit of a typical video, around 10-15 minutes, is a loosely edited hangout session, which sometimes gets messy.

His parents started it

Though it's no longer difficult to imagine a little kid reaching celebrity status, no one expects a tyke to brave the internet alone. Ryan's channel—channels, really, and more on that in a moment—were set up by his parents. However, it must be stressed that they only set up his channels after he asked: "How come I'm not on YouTube when all the other kids are?"

To some, that sort of existential question is so paralyzing it might lead one to cancel their internet service, but Ryan's mom set things up for him, and production was off and rolling.

Ryan's father offered up another reason for the channel—staying connected with long-lost family. "Ryan has a lot of extended family outside of the U.S.," his dad told Tubefilter. "So YouTube was a great way to share childhood memories with them. It's also a great way for us to spend more time together as a family and to bond with him."

The internet noticed, and not everyone was happy

A force so titanic as Ryan ToysReview can't hit water without making a splash, and his success has made waves across the internet as lines are drawn and other YouTubers prepare to face this new, increasingly dominant menace with the innocent smile. Famous YouTuber Pewdiepie acknowledged the challenger, posting a video called "THE 5 YEAR OLD THAT WILL SURPASS PEWDIEPIE" with a mixture of trepidation and resolve.

At the time of this writing, Ryan was jockeying for position on the worldwide charts, coming in at second place in the race for eyeballs with 612.8 million views in the week of Jan. 14-20, 2017, as reported by Tubefilter.

His videos are actually useful

The most shocking thing about watching these videos is that Ryan's actually a pretty good host. Sometimes he goes on fact-finding missions to a toy store. There are also family game nights and trips to the amusement park where he gets the whole crew in on the action via sister channel Ryan's Family Review—it's really kind of shocking how there's something here for everybody. If you just want to see cute kids, Ryan's got you covered. If you like to watch a happy, healthy family play together in their home, getting glimpses of real joy that remind you of the good times, then there's plenty of that here too.

And if you just want to see if the dang toy is entertaining, your questions will invariably be answered by the comprehensive field test Ryan inflicts on it. Watch one of these videos, and you'll legitimately know whether or not a toy would be a good get for you or your kids. You can see the whole review in Ryan's eyes. It's genius, really. Commercials try to sell you toys—Ryan's videos use the target audience to show you if they're actually any fun.

Ryan's parents buy the toys

As easy as it would be to believe this channel exists solely for Ryan to play with toys funneled to him from gigantic corporations using him as a living advertisement, that doesn't seem to be the case here. Ryan's parents insist they pay for all of the toys, with no outstanding agreements with manufacturers to have them shipped directly for an endorsement—although they have begun to get in on the branding game.

With the runaway success of the channel, it seems foolish to try to improve on what's already working. With all those views, it's not like they can't afford the toys. Plus, those shopping trips can make for some devastatingly cute footage.

Most of the toys go to charity

Another interesting tidbit from an interview with Ryan's parents (via TubeFilter) is that a lot of the toys Ryan plays with are donated to charity, making this a lot more humanitarian of an endeavor than the Richie Rich scenario it suggests. According to Ryan's mom, the family has a room in the house devoted only to toy storage. With twin siblings in the mix, this could spin out of control quickly. If they held onto every toy, this channel would look increasingly like a Fisher-Price sponsored spin-off of Hoarders.

The family is raking in the cash

It's a good thing a lot of those toys go to charity, because otherwise, Ryan and his family would probably need a bigger house. And the crazy thing? At this point, they could probably afford it. YouTube monetization works a little bit differently for every channel, depending on views, ads, subscriptions, etc., but a successful channel like Ryan's is an almost for-sure moneymaker based on views alone. According to Nailbuzz, it's estimated net worth in 2017 sits at a cozy $12 million. (The Verge has Ryan's monthly earnings estimated at an easy mil.)

Doesn't it make your bow tie spin, just hearing that amount? It should be noted this is merely an estimation, but even within a large margin of error, that's still "holy-cow-how-did-you-do-this" money. Whatever the family is making, it was enough for Ryan's mom to quit her job as a high school chemistry teacher to focus full-time on production, a surreal and thoroughly modern career move that we're all but certain she'll pretty much never regret.

It's more than just the toys

One of the most important things you need to know about this channel is that Ryan is a charming and insightful kid. Inquisitive, excitable, a guy who likes the simple things, like science experiments and trips to the candy store. "Hearts," he says, pointing at a bin filled up with gummy hearts. And then you smile because look—hearts! And everything is adorable. Look, it's just cute to watch some kids do this mundane nonsense, okay? Look at what else is on the internet. You can't find that much fault in something this innocent.

The channel ends when Ryan wants it to

Making us all breathe a little easier is the fact that Ryan's mom is on the record saying the videos will stop when Ryan wants them to. But truly, the kid has such natural charisma, we almost hope he doesn't ever want to quit. If he has a hint of self-awareness, he could grow up and host anything. He's got that light in his eyes; that flash of joy that draws you in. Ryan celebrated his 6th birthday in 2017, but we want to see Ryan's teenage dirt bike review. We want Ryan's first pretentious art film review. We want Ryan reviewing cars. Real ones—not R/C. It's ten years later and we still see Chris Crocker, so let's not pretend we won't see this kid hosting the news one day. Keep it up, Ryan. The world is yours to play with, now.