The internet continues to redefine how we shop, and not just as a replacement for brick and mortar stores. Innovation in online retailing has created fresh new ways of buying that go far beyond simply shopping on Amazon or jet.com instead of driving to your local Target. These new methods of shopping, including digital delivery of media (iTunes, Netflix), crowdfunding (Kickstarter, Go Fund Me) and subscription boxes (Loot Crate, Birchbox) are also affecting how we parent in the digital age.
The subscription box concept provides consumers with a new selection of various goods each month for a regular monthly fee. The idea has spread to include health, beauty, clothes, and even food. According to Impact Branding and Design there are over 600 subscription box services running in the Unites States. Subscriptions succeed at combining the satisfaction of instant gratification with the excitement of anticipation and delivery with a birthday style surprise. Every single month.
One category where the model has thrived is collectible toys and pop culture items (action figures, t-shirts, books, etc.). While collectors used to spend their time scouring the aisles of various stores, or searching eBay for the latest collectibles, they can now have the hottest items delivered right to their door. Loot Crate, one of the earliest and most popular purveyors of the pop culture collectors box boasts over 600,000 subscribers and earlier this year closed $18.5 million in Series A Funding. And, much like the internet has changed shopping, it has also changed what we do with items we buy. In the pre-internet days collectors were content to display their items on a shelf, or share their latest acquisition with their friends in-person. Now, the first instinct for many is to post their latest purchase on-line for the world to see.
Many of these pop-culture style subscription boxes are geared towards collectors, but appeal to a wide range of ages, including teens and pre-teens. Once they receive their box, they are quick to produce TV-show quality videos showing what came in their box. Rather than rip open the box to see what is inside, these internet savvy youth are meticulously staging high quality, often scripted, videos painstakingly revealing what is inside. Much like the boxes themselves, these “unboxing” videos are extraordinarily popular. A search on YouTube for “unboxing videos” returns over 24 million results.
It is important to closely monitor any internet sites children are engaged with. There are several ways to be safe while sharing these videos. First, make sure they are not sharing your address. It is likely on the box, so make sure your postal address is obscured or removed. Next, try to avoid obvious identifying items like clothing with school logos or other personal items. And finally, monitor who is viewing, liking, and commenting on these videos.
Online shopping has become an easy and hassle free way to acquire the latest and coolest items and video sharing as become the popular way to share and discuss these items. While the internet can be a great way for kids to connect with their friends and other people around the world that share similar interests, making sure that you are aware of their online habits can help them stay safe online.