What's with those You Tube toy videos?
If you’re a parent like me who likes to partake in the grown up crime of sleeping from time to time you’ve probably indulged in the filthy (but some days necessary) activity of handing your kid the cell phone first thing in the morning for that extra 20min to 2.5 hours. I’m not proud of it, in fact, I’m so ashamed I’ve decided to write about it on my blog…so ashamed!
It’s through this process that I’ve discovered (well, actually it was my kids that discovered it, I’ve only enabled it) the bizarre world of You Tube toy videos. It’s basically “random” grown ups and sometimes their kids opening toys, playing with them and then posting the video on You Tube. Clearly this is some cheap, but highly effective, gorilla marketing ploy put on by toy manufacturers and I gotta be honest with you, it’s pretty clever. So clever in fact that I refuse to believe that a bunch of old toy executives in suits came up with it. It was probably something one of their kids came up with to pass the time while their parents were having affairs with the help. Totally understandable from everyone’s vantage point, I really feel for all of them, I mean whatever they have to do to take their mind off of the fact that they can only buy fake ivory spoons for caviar these days, right?
At first I was a little disgusted that the toy companies were reaching my impressionable kids this way, but then I actually sat down and watched a couple of them and I couldn’t really complain. These videos really have everything a kid could want, package opening, funny voices, shiny things, it’s like Christmas is starting over every 13.5 minutes. Which unfortunately for the kids means that adults are also trying to pretend that they know what the world of My Little Pony is all about. Well, they don’t o.k. Twilight Sparkle doesn’t talk like that and the Mane Six would never embark on a journey like this….unbelievable!
Let’s be honest, toy manufacturers were never shy about reaching into our houses and getting our children’s attention. I mean, I grew up in the 80’s my decade invented this crap! We all know that any Saturday morning cartoon in the 80s was basically a vehicle for toy marketing and, as a consumer, I was no exception to this. I mean Hasbro figured out how to get my 7-year-old butt into Transformer underwear without the help of You Tube thank you very much! Just good old-fashioned Saturday morning cartoons that started at 6a.m. and ended at 11a.m. If I woke up too late I missed it! Gone for a week! It’s actually quite incredible that anything got done back then. In my case Hasbro was also lucky that I thought wiping was a grown up mind control conspiracy…I refused to partake! As a result, my parents had to constantly get me new pairs. You know those giant dumpster crates they drop off at construction sites? When I was 7 you could have filled one of those with my streaky Transformer underwear. Now I’m a grown up who drinks a lot of coffee and to be honest with you, I’ve learned nothing! I just buy darker underwear.
The most amazing thing about these videos is that my kids NEVER seem to get tired of them. And if You Tube is on the auto play function these fucking things will play FOREVER! I’m serious…back to back to back to back to…well you get the idea.
In fact, it’s gotten so bad the other day I decided to intervene. After homework, the kids ran to the living room to turn on their cartoons (we have apple T.V.) and went directly to a You Tube video of Paw Patrol. Upon realizing this, I immediately marched right in to the living room and tore the remote out of my daughter’s hands “No more of those weird You Tube videos kids, I’m putting my foot down!” I said before proceeding to open up Netflix and put on the real Paw Patrol cartoon like any self-respecting American adult who grew up in the 80s would. “My kids are going to be manipulated by corporate toy companies just like I was, with traditional, scripted cartoon productions!” I said in my deepest tone of fatherly certainly. “Unless it’s Saturday morning and I’m really, really tired!”
Update/disclaimer: This article was written in parody, there is truth to it, but as anything I’ve exaggerated some things. After some soul searching, discussion with my wife (and some disturbing shit discovered upon researching kids watching You Tube after I wrote this post) we’ve banned this activity completely in our house.
If you’re a parent who hasn’t, I suggest you look into this a little yourself, no judgment from this blogger if you choose to continue letting your kids watch, just trying to be an advocate for knowledge and research. You Tube does have some filters that can be used if you feel it’s still a necessary parenting tool for you. I’ve provided a couple links below that detail what I’m talking about a little more if anyone is interested.
BBC article on disturbing child You Tube videos:
ABC article detailing the phenomenon I joked about in the article (BTW, the subjects interviewed in this article claim they are not paid by any toy companies hmmm):