It’s the YouTube sensation that’s been described as “toddler crack”.
Toy unboxing, simple internet videos of children’s toys and confectionary being opened, attracts millions of viewers and is big business — with one Australian production company making $3 million per year.
But experts have warned the social media sensation requires regulation.
A study from Queensland University of Technology and a team of international researchers concludes the craze engages children beyond passive consumption but also recommends more oversight.
“The rapid growth and popularity of toy unboxing is definitely generating some moral panic, but new technologies for children’s media tend to do that,” said QUT’s Distinguished Professor Stuart Cunningham.
“Unboxing emerged as a genre as early as 15 years ago but once YouTube was launched in 2005 it has gone through the roof and is one of the most popular online genres of all, growing at a rate of 871 per cent since 2010.
“Some people call it ‘toddler crack’ and regulation is obviously needed but there is also empowerment for children involved and business opportunities that bring families together in a common enterprise.”
Professor Cunningham said government regulators have been slow to catch on and the near-global nature of digital platforms make it difficult for there to be consistency from one country to the next.
“There is a strong belief that children are being exploited but that is ignoring the business model and creative practices involved in the professionalisation of amateur content creators, be they kids or adults,” Professor Cunningham said.
“Unboxing represents a whole new brand of marketing that can have far greater reach than traditional marketing. Companies are beating down the door of the kids who are doing it best.”
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