By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – They’re the littlest web stars, finding fame and fortune online, and their parents are making big bucks from their tiny tots’ viral videos.

But before you try to make your child a star on the web, there are some precautions you’ll want to take.

Nineteen-month-old Micah McArthur has a great laugh and 31-million people from around the world know it, thanks to a home video his father posted for friends and family on YouTube.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports

The video went viral and started racking up millions of hits.

“We were just in shock,” says Micah’s father, Marcus McArthur.

Micah is part of a growing breed of little web stars gaining worldwide fame, often before they’re even out of diapers.

“They’re cute, they’re funny and some of them have sort of sound bites that people quote” says Damian Collier, CEO of Viral Spiral, a group that represents parents who find they have a Youtube hit on their hands.

Collier says in addition to fame, there’s also a potential fortune to be made on these videos through brand sponsorship, product placements, websites, books, and TV shows.

Like the father who posted the “David after Dentist” video and reportedly earned more than $150,000 in advertising revenue, merchandise and licensing.

Or the two dancing twins whose video scored them a commercial.

“Anything that is cute or funny I would say is hugely in demand,” Collier says.

But child and teen development specialist Dr. Robyn Silverman cautions parents to think before they upload.

“You never want to demean them, take advantage of them or embarrass them in any way because this is going to live online forever,” Silverman says.

And remember, once a video is uploaded, you can’t control who watches it.

“Sometimes parents will carelessly put geographic markers on their videos, say their full name, say the child’s full name, where the child goes to school,” Silverman says.

“All of those things could put your child at risk.”

As for Micah, he now has the start of a college fund thanks to his Youtube hit. But that’s not what makes his dad smile the most.

“The fact that my son’s laugh could bring that kind of happiness to people around the world… felt really good,” Marcus McArthur says.

Remember, by uploading a video you’re starting your child’s online portfolio.

Experts suggest you ask yourself, in 10 years, will my child be proud of this video or embarrassed by it?


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