The Click-A-Brick crew, retailers of educational toys, say a psychologist who has condemned ‘unboxing’ videos online is probably overreacting to the recent fad, although they do caution that such videos should be watched together with parents and used as a learning experience for both children and parents.
Australian psychologist Justin Coulson, in a recent article on The New Daily website, said he believes ‘unboxing’ videos of children’s toys on YouTube can have a potentially negative effect on children, as the videos go beyond just a 30-second commercial and essentially become a several-minutes-long advertorial for whatever toy is being featured in the video.
So-called ‘unboxing’ videos on YouTube have become a relatively recent internet hit. The videos consist of people taking a brand new item out of its packaging, explaining what is included in the package and sometimes explaining a little about how the product works. YouTube hosts many channels of unboxing videos specifically for children’s toys. These toy unboxing videos can rack up tens or hundreds of millions of views on the site and rake in money for the channels’ owners who make the videos. The money comes from advertising on the channels. The most lucrative unboxing channels can net their owners hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to millions of dollars per year, according to social media statistics company Social Blade.
Coulson says in the article he wants tougher regulation for what he sees as blatant advertising toward children, something that is highly regulated in many parts of the world.
The article also quotes the director of a Sydney-based preschool, Nichola McLean, as having slightly different concerns about how the unboxing videos may affect children:
“I don’t think there’s any harm in a child watching it once or twice and seeing what’s out there and what other children are talking about, if it’s a fashionable thing,” McLean is quoted as saying. “My concern is if they watch it over and over and over again – and then you get the consumerism side coming into it. Consumerism can be addictive. Are we creating this feeling of anticipation and joy without actually having anything to hold? And then when it comes to birthdays and Christmas – have they had that feeling so many times that the novelty’s worn off?”
Click-A-Brick co-founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza say they don’t believe unboxing videos should be too much of a concern for parents. They can even use the videos to garner insight into what their children are into and why.
“I’ve watched the unboxing videos and have even watched some with my daughters,” Smith said. “Honestly, I don’t understand what the draw is about them. It’s kind of a voyeuristic thing, I think. We all like watching people opening gifts and seeing what they’ve received and that seems to be the draw for these videos. Kids hear about toys or see ads for them and these unboxing videos let them see exactly what the box contains, which may even turn out to be disappointing to a kid, which I found out when I watched one with my daughter for a toy that she initially wanted. After we watched the video, she said the toy looked stupid and didn’t want it anymore. At Click-A-Brick, we don’t think they need to be regulated by government intervention or anything like that, though. Parents can do their own interventions if they see fit. It doesn’t hurt to explain to your kids why the videos are up there; they make money for people. Kids are going to be inundated with advertising their entire lives, it’s never too early to start learning about how it’s used.”
So far, no unboxing videos of the learning toy Click-A-Brick have appeared online.
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