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From Vernacularized Commercialism to Kidbait: Toy review videos on YouTube and the problematics of the mash-up genre

Journal article
Authors Maarit Jaakkola
Published in Journal of Children and Media
Volume 14
Issue 2
Pages 237-254
ISSN 1748-2798
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Nordicom (2013-)
Pages 237-254
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.1080/17482798.20...
Keywords User-generated content, YouTube, vernacular reviewing, cultural engagement, digital citizenship
Subject categories Media and Communications

Abstract

Children’s entertainment has grown massively on YouTube in recent years, and the channels with the most subscriptions and views host content designed for children. This article investigates the toy review genre as present in YouTube videos targeting children. This topic has been discussed previously, most notably in regard to digital parenting and child infringement scandals. This analysis aims to more deeply understand the forms and functions of toy reviews in the contexts of YouTube’s political economy, branding and commercialization, as well as regulation. We analyzed the narrative strategies of 180 videos across 35 toy review channels in order to gain an emic understanding of reviewing. Besides producing repetitive content characterized as “kidbait,” these channels also employ creative aims and strategies to convince adults of the benefits of watching. Toy reviews are, however, a complex hybrid genre mediating children’s commodities and play culture, and more attention should be dedicated to the ethical principles of their production.

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