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Spiderman and Elsa videos are the latest sensation on YouTube for kids. These videos are getting over 250millions views per episode. What is it about them that makes them so popular and are they good for kids to watch. Below is an interview that I did for Mashable of this latest craze for kids. The original interview can be viewed at Spiderman, Elsa YouTube Kids Videos.

Spiderman vs. Elsa videos have taken over YouTube and it’s so confusing

Somewhere along the internet’s path into content oblivion, Spiderman and Elsa videos on YouTube became a guaranteed and genuinely weird traffic winner.

The premise is simple enough: Adults dress as characters from the Spiderman and Frozen franchise and act out wordless, often slightly violent skits to chirpy music.

As TubeFilter noted in early February, these short films, ostensibly for children, have been racking up the views. Search “Spiderman and Elsa” on YouTube and you get more than 6 million results.

The videos are part of a surge of kid-friendly content on Youtube — a trend the site itself has embraced via the Youtube Kids app (the main app is meant for people 13 and over). Videos of Kinder eggs being opened, toy reviews and yes, even Spiderman and Elsa skits aren’t just niche, mind-melting internet fodder: they are a full-blown business.

Indeed, some of the most successful Spiderman and Elsa clips boast more than 250 million views, and channels like “Webs & Tiaras – Toy Monster Compilations,” which specialise in superhero and princess clips, have more than 5 million subscribers.

The trend shows no sign of slowing. Channels including Beeble TV and Superheroes IRL churn out almost one video a week, meaning titles like “Double Pregnant FROZEN ELSA vs DOCTOR! w/ Spiderman vs Joker Maleficent Hulk Baby – Superhero Fun” are filling up the feed.

So why have these clips found a loyal, hungry market? Thanks to a fairly simple equation: “The videos feature something that children know well,” Joanne Orlando, an expert in children and technology, explained over email. “The sense of familiarity is very comforting to a child.”

Frozen is, after all, a cultural experience as much as a one-off film: Making $1.276 billion (A$1.663 billion) at the box office, according to Forbes, it’s one of Disney’s highest earning titles. That makes it a film ripe for exploitation by YouTubers, with the character of Elsa already deeply embedded in the pop culture consciousness.

The same could also be said of Spiderman. After Hollywood’s endless investment in the franchise, Spiderman is now the prototypical boy’s hero.

“They feel quite empowered watching these characters because they know how these characters think and work,” Orlando explained of Elsa and Spiderman’s appeal. “This is why children like to see movies over and over again or read the same book many times. This sense of predictability and familiarity is very appealing.”

But for every “normal” video featuring Elsa transforming into a mermaid or Spiderman and Supergirl getting into a lightsaber duel, there is an ungodly nightmare depicting everything from characters being buried alive to heroes peeing on each other.

In their attempt to get children clicking, content creators seem to be upping the ante and straying into adult content. Although few of the Spiderman and Elsa videos currently trending are explicitly violent, they all demonstrate a fondness for the extreme, whether that involves artificial burning or accidental finger slicing.

Hurting and pain is often used in children’s shows for the same reason they are in adult ones, Orlando said — “to keep us glued to the screen.”

“Sometimes we see more painful situations such as Frozen‘s Elsa stepping on a nail,” she added. “If this is the case, parents should talk to their kids about the scene and whether the characters made good or bad choices to help the painful situation.”

That said, there is an additional subgenre to the Spiderman and Elsavideos that emphasises content bordering on the titillating and pornographic, as a video critique by h3h3Productions pointed out, presumably to attract a slightly older crowd. Some creators flaunt skimpily dressed women in their thumbnails, and narratives frequently move into sexually-charged territory.

Various forms of toilet humour also make a regular appearance, with defecation a common plot point.

When it comes to toilet humour, Orlando explained, content like this makes sense to children. “The video storylines may seem quite bizarre to an adult but many of the themes these videos show are often in children’s programs,” she said. “Looking after one another, love, someone who does the wrong thing and good winning the day.”

Not that she would give the videos her complete seal of approval, mind you: Orlando stressed that children need to interact with a range of past-times and hobbies. “They are fine to watch every now and then but it’s important children watch and interact with a range of content and ideas on their screen. Most of which should be high quality and help them to think, be creative and problem solve,” she said.

The internet may be the new television, but there’s perhaps only so much Elsa-themed toilet content children should consume every day.