YouTube videos for children seem to be increasingly prevalent on today’s internet. Indeed, videos of happy families coupled with informative and educational messages seem to be everywhere. What exactly is motivating people to create these family blogs, and is it difficult to foster success for children’s channels? We discuss these questions with Elena Oskolovich, a mother of three leading a prosperous children’s channel and personal blog.
Hello, Elena! Tell us a little about yourself! Are there any histories of famous people that your life story resembles?
Hello! My name is Elena Oskolovich. I am 37 years old, and I am a mother of three beautiful children. You know, I don’t really associate my life with other people’s stories, but I know of several life paths that are similar to mine. Kris Jenner is one who comes to mind, as she had the task of raising her children and putting them on their feet. Like her, I aim to educate my children by giving them the best. Our stories are still different– I encountered toxic relationships that eventually led to divorce. These experiences helped shape me into a person capable of being self-sufficient; I can make a living on my own and have the ability to pick up my children and leave at any moment if I need to. This sufficiency is very valuable for every woman, especially mothers who wish her children only the best and want to protect them from abuse and gaslighting. In our case, the abuser was my husband. This tragic part of my life is similar to the difficult story of Maye Musk, who revealed the difficulties of living with an abuser in her book “A Woman Makes a Plan.” So, in some ways, both Kris Jenner and Maye Musk have stories that share similarities to my own.
What values are important to your family, and how are these ideals reflected in the blog?
Every family is brought together by shared values, and ours is no exception. I instill in my children the values that I consider right and necessary in life. As each child grows up, his own inner core and personality is formed. I believe that qualities such as decency, humanity, hard work, and the ambition to follow one’s dreams make up the basis of this core. These ideals should accompany a person throughout his or her life. And a person, in turn, should not deviate from these basic principles– if they remain steadfast, they’ll find success.
I don’t run a blog in the literal sense– we shoot videos on YouTube because we enjoy the process. After all, if a person does what they love, they are sure to reach the level of development to which they aspire. I work with children precisely because I like it. I don’t put money at the center of my activities. Rather, money is just the result achieved by loving the business you’re in.
What drives you to maintain a popular family blog, in addition to the desire to see each child succeed?
I do prioritize activities that bring happiness to me and my children. We don’t focus on making money or having millions of subscribers– these factors are just consequences of what we do. I do not idealize YouTube but see it as rather a step in the right direction. My children provide ideas, energy, and new achievements. For example, my eldest son is writing music and is planning to release his debut album soon. My younger children, thanks to YouTube and the filming process, are also cultivating new hobbies. For everyone in our family, shooting is not straining or difficult. Instead, the children and I are happy to participate in the process– we all get something out of it.
Your own film will be released soon. How did you end up making a movie, and is there a message that you hope it conveys?
One day, our family story reached a film producer. A woman here in the U.S. makes short films and invited me to produce a piece about my family’s difficult history. We already had the script prepared, and we decided to give it a go. Currently, the short film has already been shot and is at the editing stage. When we’re ready, we will distribute it.
The film aiims to reveal the topic of how abuse and gaslighting in the family affects children. In America, this situation is very common; parents fight one another or fight with their children, and this fracturing within the family has a detrimental effect on the mental health of the child. I want to provide publicity to these types of relationships, because I am sure that my story will resound with many. I also want to involve a social organization in the film’s production and distribution in order to grant it social significance. I have learned about numerous similar stories from my childrens’ school friends, and the film explores these as well.
When did you begin blogging and producing filmed content?
In 2018, we moved to America and started hosting a family channel with the aim to create a family project. We began to gain traction on Instagram and YouTube, buying advertising and participating in giveaways. But at some point, my spouse decided that he should be the channel’s focus– he thought that he was cooler than us and decided to lead the channel on his own. He treated me as if I was superfluous in my own family story and, in the summer of 2019, we stopped running a family blog together.
It was at this time that I realized I wanted to learn new skills and develop a new project with my children, and I started shooting a children’s blog. We’re rapidly gaining popularity and subscribers, and we’re scaling up our activities. We create channels in different languages, for instance, and we’re succeeding! In November-December 2019, our blog began to bring us our first income.
Do your children enjoy participating in the production of YouTube videos?
All of my children are happy to take part in the videos. In addition, each child has their own channel where they broadcast content at their discretion.
Are there any channels that inspired you in the initial stages?
Yes, there are. At that time we were watching the famous American channel “Ice Family.” However, this family’s content was aimed at a specifically American audience, and, at first, we didn’t take this into account. A striking example is a video where an American family went to a restaurant for $200-300, which was the absolute norm for them. For the Russian mentality, this is a bit wild. The reaction of our viewers was different than what we expected, and we realized that this was not the approach that would build us momentum.
It was then that we stopped running a family project, separating from our spouse. My children and I have changed the trajectory of our project, shooting children’s content that carries meaning. Unlike our previous videos, where scenes were limited only to daily activities like going to restaurants, our videos have thoughtful plots that interest the audience.
On which platforms do you publish your videos?
Currently, we post children’s videos and vlogs only on YouTube. However, we are also thinking about expanding our content to other platforms.
Tell us, what topics do you cover in your videos?
Basically, our content is Entertainment Education– fun yet informative videos for children. The videos cover elementary topics, such as the alphabet, and can be followed by even the youngest of kids. Currently, children’s content is very strictly filtered, especially by the Youtube platform itself, which analyzes and admits only educational videos. Our content is also included in YouTube Kids, which is very difficult to gain acceptance into. Entertainment-only videos that have no instructive function often do not pass the “test”.