By Michael Rothberg
Amanda Aizuss ’13 displays her brand new 64-gigabyte iPad 2 in front a Canon T3i camera with a smile. While explaining every feature from the volume button to the fine print on the back, she carefully unboxes the packaging and reveals the device to her viewers. More than 200,000 have viewed the video, after less than a year on the web.
Aizuss started making web videos on YouTube in seventh grade under the alias “iTalkApple” to share her passion for technology and Apple products with the world, she said. In addition to unboxing and reviewing newly released devices, she posts tutorials for Mac OS X based software.
Though her parents bought Aizuss her first computer, she has purchased the rest of her Apple products mostly with the money she makes from the YouTube videos.
Aizuss uses a program called Google AdSense, which posts advertisements related to the content of a video. The advertisements produce revenue depending on the number of views the video receives.
Aizuss said she tried to keep her videos somewhat secret at the beginning by only telling her closest friends. However, as her YouTube channel became more popular, more people began to discover it.
“When I was in seventh grade, I didn’t want to be judged for being nerdy, and the same in eighth grade,” Aizuss said. “Even though I love doing it, and I&rsquo;m really passionate about it, I was afraid of people’s reactions.”
Aizuss said she commits hours of effort to the production of her YouTube videos, which she films, writes and edits on her own.
Having posted over 200 videos, drawing in a total of nearly 3.5 million views on YouTube, Aizuss has attracted a loyal fan-base of roughly 28,000 subscribers. She reads each of the thousands of emails and comments they send.
“A lot of people might see me around school, looking at my phone. I’m usually reading YouTube emails,” Aizuss said.
Among the messages, Aizuss has received multiple letters from girls and young women, expressing admiration for standing out in a field largely dominated by men.
“This whole YouTube tech thing has gotten popular,” Aizuss said. “I was one of the first people who did it, and I am still basically one of only three girls [making technology based videos].”
Aizuss addressed the issue in her speech in front of the UN Commission on the Status of Women Conference in New York. Aizuss attended the conference as part of a trip taken by the Harvard-Westlake chapter of the Girls Learn International club, an organization that encourages leadership and education among young women worldwide.
“The main idea of my speech is that gender should not limit or determine career opportunities, and I also spoke about stereotypes and role models in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) professions,” Aizuss said. “It was exhilarating speaking to about 150 young men and women about the backlash I encounter as a teen girl who makes technology videos. When I read a few rude comments, there were audible gasps in the audience.”
Aizuss, who can trace the demographics of her viewership on YouTube, said she has viewers from all over the world, including many from Europe, South and Central America.
To stay in touch with such a diverse group of followers, she often posts on Twitter, a popular social media website.
For a time, she had an impersonator on Twitter who posted “racist and sexual things with terrible spelling and grammar” under her name.
“I never communicated with the impersonator, but I contacted Twitter support, and they took the accountdown after I verified my identity,” Aizuss said. “People are strange.”
Despite some of the hours of work and the sometimes offensive comments Aizuss has received, she said her passion for sharing Apple technology with the world endures.
“I’d like to continue [making videos] in college,” said Aizuss. “I just feel like it would be awkward in a dorm with a roommate sitting there, but I really love it.”