Chances are, if your kids watch YouTube, they've watched an unboxing video. Maybe they're just like our kids, and those videos are ALL they watch. And chances are, you've watched one or two with them and wondered why these videos are so incredibly popular. You wouldn't be the only one! Unboxing videos have become one of YouTube's most popular and profitable genres - we're talking views in the billions.
Some of YouTube's most popular unboxing channels can earn upwards of eight figures, much of it from ad revenue and partnerships with brands. But what it is about these weird and pointless videos? Why do kids love watching other kids open toys so much?! And why are brands spending so much on YouTubers in this genre?
What Are Toy Unboxing Videos
They really are exactly what they sound like! Toy unboxing videos are literally videos of people (oftentimes kids) opening toys and describing them to viewers. Many of the popular toys now, like LOL Dolls, are actually designed specifically for this unboxing market; they're a lot of little individual pieces, each wrapped in its own packaging or wrapper, so there is a lot more to open and reveal.
Unboxing videos actually started in the tech world, as tech bloggers and YouTubers would unbox the newest gadget or phone to show viewers before it hit the market. But now, they're almost exclusively geared toward kids. LOL Dolls, Kinder Surprise Eggs, and American Girl dolls are just a few of the more popular toy brands that you'll see in unboxing videos.
When Did Toy Unboxing Videos Start?
As we mentioned above, toy unboxing videos are an offshoot of tech unboxing videos, which started in the early 2000s. The tech videos were commonly referred to as "geek porn", as they were geared toward the tech industry and centered around all the newest tech that was coming out. There were even entire websites dedicated to unboxing tech, like Unbox.it and unboxing.com. As the popularity of the genre grew, more people started doing unboxing videos of other products that were more kid-friendly, mainly toys, candy, and games.
Who Are The Most Popular Toy Unboxing Stars?
By far, the most popular toy unboxing channel on YouTube is Ryan's World, formerly known as Ryan ToyReview. The channel, which features 8-year old Ryan and is managed by his parents, features unboxing videos, videos of his day-to-day life, travel videos, and more. Ryan made approximately $22 million in 2018, and has his own line of unboxing toys and surprise eggs that are sold in stores like Target and Walmart. Ryan's World has 22.4 million subscribers.
Another popular toy unboxing channel is CookieSwirlC, which boasts 12.4 million subscribers. Unlike some of the other review channels, this one does not feature kids - it actually doesn't feature anything but a pair of hands and a soothing woman's voice narrating the videos. FunToys Collector Disney Toys Review, 11.7 million subscribers, is another channel that features adults rather than kids. Lucky Penny Shop is one of the original toy unboxing channels, with 2.12 million subscribers. The channel features new and vintage toys and games.
Why Do Kids Like Unboxing Videos?
Remember watching Saturday morning cartoons as a kid? The commercials were one of the best parts! Toy unboxing videos on YouTube are basically just longer commercials for kids. They feature kids just like them, opening and playing with toys they want to play with. Toy companies work directly with these YouTubers on advertising and product placement, and it's turned into quite a lucrative business. Kids feel like they're watching videos of friends, and not being sold a product (which is the ultimate goal).
But there's a science behind why kids love these videos so much. According to child psychologist and neuroscientist Charlotte Keating, watching toy unboxing videos can actually be addictive to kids. Watching the videos can activate a release of dopamine in their brain in areas that are involved in motivation and reward. Also, kids can develop something called "mimetic desire", which is basically wanting what other people have. They may not have the toys being featured in the videos, but they can watch someone else open and play with them over and over again. While there's no evidence to suggest that watching toy unboxing videos is harmful to kids, it's still better to limit how much time they spend watching them. Active play and time spent with friends and family is always the best option.