Toy unboxing: living in a(n unregulated) material world

David Craig, Stuart Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


The phenomenon of toy unboxing describes rapidly scaling and commercializing videos featuring the opening, assembling, and demonstration of children's toys, often by children, across social media platforms. This phenomenon has fostered concerns by parents and advocates around children's access to and participation in social media. This article provides a brief history of this phenomenon, noting the very limited scholarship on the issue while engaging with the new regulatory questions it provokes. We describe how these videos represent forms of creator labor and operate within the structural and material interests of social media entertainment (SME). SME refers to a proto-industry featuring professionalising-amateur content creators engaging in content innovation and media entrepreneurship across multiple social media platforms to aggregate global fan communities and incubate their own media brands. Our analysis accounts for how unboxing videos work both for children as agents and as small businesses, and provides pointers to more nuanced regulatory approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalMedia International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


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