The type of media I feel most connected to is internet creative content. YouTube videos, digital art, and public stories are all things I participate in the practice in or encourage in my everyday life. I have been contributing creative content to the internet since I was around 10 years old. When I was 10, I started writing SpongeBob fanfiction. I haven’t written SpongeBob fanfiction since, but when I was 12 I started a YouTube channel, and at 13 I started various blogs.
At age 12 I started getting into the world of online video content. I had started my own YouTube channel (under the legal age, I know) and I had been subscribing to channels, watching videos, and making my own. I originally started with just some silly and simple videos about virtual pet games, but eventually I branched out to other various vlog-type videos. The vlog-type videos aren’t popular, but my virtual pet videos have gained quite a following. I’m very confused, because it’s literally just me talking to digital pets on a screen showing their actions which are constructed by gamemakers, yet all these kids are begging me to make more similar videos so that’s what I mainly do on YouTube now.
When I was 12 going on 13, my serious online content started rolling out. I started a blog about a Tamagotchi toy (a digital virtual pet keychain game) I had bought. It was initially a hit because I was one of the first people to get my hands on this new Tamagotchi version so naturally the curious and excited kids wanted to get a taste of the new hot trend on the market. Eventually, most of the kids already had their own toy, but for some reason they kept coming back. I looked back on the blog a few months ago and all I saw at this age was a silly kid; maybe the kids enjoyed my frequent blog entries of my tweenage antics? Who knows…
When I was around halfway into my 13th year of being, I eventually got bored of the Tamagotchi blog and took on something new—Webkinz (a product that’s a stuffed animal that doubles as a virtual pet) picture stories. When my parents were at the height of their drama, I stayed online all night looking for an escape—eventually, I stumbled across a group of kids who took pictures of their Webkinz stuffed animals acting out activities. Something about the simplicity and adorable innocence drew me in and led me to start taking pictures of my own the next day. I posted my content, and I posted frequently, causing my popularity to grow quickly. Eventually, I had the most popular Webkinz picture story blog of them all (today the blog contains 800,000+ hits), and I had kids obsessing over me and my schedule, anxious for the next picture adventure to come out.
My Webkinz blog slowed down when I left high school, but I still try to keep it open and running. I still think about stories I want to make every day. Recently I created a new blog where I merge the Tamagotchi and Webkinz blogs and I’m currently importing all the old entries—I wanted to have a blog on a more relevant blogging website where I could have more creative freedom (the other blogs were on kids forums where my content is a bit limited to protect kids). I have big plans for this new blog—I already set up social media accounts for people to follow and I have all kinds of ideas for content I want to post. I want to post updates on the virtual pets aspect of the products to let the audience indulge in their desire to connect with the product and possibly their childhood. Then, I want to post imagined picture stories about the products going on their own adventures and learning life lessons. My audience noticed the adventure-based stories turning into a soap opera when I started getting into teenage drama shows in my high school days. I want to keep the soap opera aspect of the stories, but also throw in some comedy and enjoyable aspects for the kids who come to the blog for a comic relief from their troubled lives. I’ve also realized that I have a powerful medium when I started teaching kids about different types of people through the diversity of characters—I plan to take this power to the next level and teach life skills through the adventures, much like shows like Fred Rogers’ did.
– Katie Leiper