Mom From YouTube's Ryan's World Says Setting 'Boundaries and Realistic Expectations' Is Key to Success

Loann Kaji, mom of Ryan Kaji, shares what it's like raising a famous child YouTuber and her tips for other parents whose kids want to be in the spotlight.

Loann Kaji, Ryan Kaji and Shion Kaji attend "My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising" North American Premiere at Regency Village Theatre on February 19, 2020
Photo: Getty Images

Whether he's doing science experiments, starring in a skit, or engaging in a little bit of pretend play, 10-year-old Ryan Kaji is commanding the attention of more than 40 million subscribers as the star of channels Ryan's World and Kaji Family. Undoubtedly one of the most famous kids on YouTube, Ryan has been on the platform since he was 4 years old. The grade schooler also works on the Nick Jr. show Ryan's Mystery Playdate.

But behind one seriously successful YouTuber is of course an entire, truly supportive family: mom Loann, dad Shion, and twin sisters Emma and Kate.

Loann Kaji recently caught up with to share what it's like raising Ryan and what she wishes other parents knew about kids and YouTube fame.

Made for the Spotlight

From an early age, Ryan demonstrated a love of the spotlight, recalls Loann. And while the family never expected Ryan's YouTube channel to be more than "a fun hobby to do together as a family," Loann remembers a particular "a-ha" moment in which she realized just how much her son adores entertaining others.

"We partnered with YouTube for a live event with Kevin Durant," she notes, adding that Ryan and the basketball star were doing a science experiment. "This was Ryan's first time doing anything like this, since we were just creating YouTube videos at home for fun."

Kaji adds, "Afterward, Ryan said he had so much fun and would love to do more of these types of events in the future."

That's when the mom realized that being on camera was something her extroverted son was interested in doing on a regular basis.

Giving Back With YouTube Fame

Loann is thrilled her son has found an artistic outlet he loves so much. "Creating YouTube videos was such a great way for Ryan to build confidence and express himself creatively," she notes.

She's also elated that he's able to use his platform for good. "I'm happy knowing how much Ryan has made a positive impact on so many kids around the world," says Kaji. "We started YouTube as a way to do something fun together and use it as a tool for our family outside of the country to see Ryan. We never thought how much of an impact we [could have] just by making our videos."

One of the most fulfilling ways in which they've had the ability to make an impact is by partnering with various nonprofits over the years. The Make-A-Wish Foundation holds a special place in Kaji's heart. "It was one we feel especially fortunate to have been a part of," she says, noting that Ryan has found it so rewarding to visit fans going through tough times.

"It's so amazing to see how much Ryan brightens kids' days by spending time together, playing games at Dave & Buster's, or just hanging out and having a playdate over Zoom," says Kaji. "It's such a great bonding experience that will help Ryan to grow into a compassionate adult and inspire him to continually impact and give back to his community in a positive way."

The family has also been creating custom, comfy hospital gowns for children through a recent partnership with the Starlight Children's Foundation, a nonprofit that is committed to bringing happiness to kids in hospitals. They also brought fun, educational video games, activity kits, and toys to children at a hospital near the family's home in Hawaii. "When we create videos, we don't get to see our fans through the screen," says the proud mom. "It was a privilege to be able to visit them in person and see the joy and smiles on their faces."

Learning a Crucial Lesson on Self-Care

With so much on their plates these days, Loann and her husband Shion are always doing a bit of a juggling act as parents of a YouTube star. "My husband works full-time with the Ryan's World brand—he is in all the meetings, approving designs, planning for future projects, etc.," she explains. "While I also help with the Ryan's World brand, I have more time to devote to the family with homework, chores, lessons, and our family bonding activities."

Having an at-times overly full plate while managing her son's career in addition to other aspects of family life recently led to a health challenge for Kaji. "I have not always been good at taking care of myself," she admits.

Over the past few years, she had skipped annual checkups. "Self-care seemed to be at the bottom of the list over others' care," says Kaji. And last summer, she ended up requiring emergency surgery for an ovarian cyst.

"I realized I needed to make a change and start to take care of myself," she shares. "During the school year, when my husband takes the kids to school, I focus on my health." She uses that time to go to the gym or take a walk or a hike.

Taking better care of herself is a way for Kaji to lead by example for her kids. "That means plenty of outdoor activities and eating healthy, balanced meals," she notes. "How can I expect my kids to move more and exercise or eat healthier if I'm not doing the same?"

Tips for Parents Whose Kids Seek the Limelight

When it comes to counseling anyone whose children might be interested in running their own YouTube channel, Kaji's best advice is to "set boundaries and realistic expectations" with your kids.

"One boundary we set with our kids is to limit our filming time to a few hours a week," says the mom of three. "We also prioritize Ryan's extracurricular activities and, most importantly, education."

To that end, Ryan is attending sleepaway camp this summer. "He'll be with kids from so many diverse backgrounds from all over the country that are also his age," says Loann.

And while she's aware of the pressures that fame could present Ryan, Loann's not concerned at the moment. "For the most part, he's living a regular kid's life," she explains. "Most of his time is spent going to school, playdates, hanging out with family playing board games, playing online games with his friends, and [enjoying] outdoor activities, like going to the park and beach." If anything, she believes he might feel a bit of pressure around being a good role model for other kids.

Ultimately, she and Shion are committed to balancing Ryan's career and childhood—something they recommend to parents of kids who love being on camera.

And whether or not YouTube fame works out—or even if, as in the case of Ryan, it does—Kaji believes what kids need the most is to be kids, and to be given the space to be their true, authentic selves.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles