kids

Do you know what unboxing videos are? Your kids do...

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It started innocently enough.

A Saturday morning lie-in seemed worth the price of a little screen time. Pry open eyeball, hand over iPad, let children scrap over a harmless cartoon search so you can steal an extra hour’s doze.

You start with Peppa Pig, Charlie and Lola. Maybe a little light Thomas The Tank Engine. Move on to Dinotrux, perhaps.

But little fingers soon find the Suggestions bar and one day you stumble out of bed to see two children glued to the sight of a whispering woman slooooowly peeling the wrapper off a pristine Kinder egg.

Her nails are tantalisingly sparkly. Her voice is like dripping caramel. Her improbable enthusiasm for the tiny plastic tatt discovered inside ­- “Oooh,” she breathes, “It’s a pooooodle. I’ll just click it together like this,” – seems… unusual.

“What the hell’s that?” You ask your child, reasonably. It’s still only 7am, after all.

“Unwrapping shows,” she answers, matter-of-fact.

And the rabbit hole yawns open.

Before you know it, you are aware of a bottomless list of YouTube clips where faceless Americans who must spend their life savings at WalMart are piling up endless boxes of Shopkins, Zelfs and Puppies In Your Pocket.

Suddenly, your kid knows all this mysterious new language: Blind bags, tear strips, Ultra Rare.

Your children fall obediently into their gender lines: Your son likes to watch the small boys who unwrap dinosaur toys and then make them fight each other, in bathtubs, in snowstorms, in their parents’ crowded kitchens.

Your daughter likes endless visions of those entirely purposeless, teeny-tiny plastic ornaments that obsess small girls. And some guy with a cat. She really likes the way that cat watches people unwrap things.

You discover there’s a name for this stuff – it’s called ‘unboxing’.

"Suddenly, your kid knows all this mysterious new language: Blind bags, tear strips, Ultra Rare." Image via iStock.

There’s a whole subgenre where tiny toys are buried in the centre of giant playdough eggs. This plays out in copycat incidents around your home, with unhappy results.

Resistance is futile. Soon you are just typing, one-eyed, ‘Unboxing girls eggs’ into the YouTube search without fully waking.

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That’s when you realise you have completely crossed over into a world that is inexplicable to non-parents.

The next stage is that the children start unwrapping things all over the house – cereal, teabags, tampons… and you spend precious time explaining that food doesn’t come in blind bags.

You spend some time pondering just what it is that children love so much about this craze, which seems, through adult eyes, deeply, deeply strange. Finally, it strikes you.

Surprise.

Delight.

Toys.

These are all things we know children love. And they also have always, always loved boxes.

The stereotype of the child unwrapping the gift, discarding the toy only to play with the box is ingrained in childhood folklore.

Unboxing is the same. Except the child unwraps the gift, places the toy at the peak of a pleasing tower formation and shows it to his cat.

On YouTube.

"Resistance is futile. Soon you are just typing, one-eyed, ‘Unboxing girls eggs’ into the YouTube search without fully waking." Image via iStock.

There is much that is confusing about the modern world. Even the savviest of parents are bamboozled by the speed our children are connecting and swiping and flying through a childhood that looks little like our own.

But there is something almost comfortingly innocent about the millions of unboxing shows your children watch online. They are soothing in their repetitive rhythm. The people in them seem genuinely excited to be tearing open their 150th undersized plastic bag and uncovering a tiny, useless toy that they’ve already unwrapped a million times.

And isn’t that almost a lovely message for your kids to be learning – there’s as much excitement in receiving something and unwrapping it as there is at what’s inside.

That, and that giving your parents another hour in bed is always, always the best present you can give them.

Have your children ever watched unboxing videos? What do you think about them?