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What are "haul" videos and why does my tween love them?

You know when your best friend comes home from the mall and shows you everything she bought? Put it on YouTube, and it's called a "haul video." And with titles like "Super Fall Haul," "Forever 21 Mall Haul," and "Drugstore Makeup vs. Designer Makeup," these shopping displays are incredibly popular among tweens and teens eager to discover the next hot trend. Top "haulers," including the identical twins Niki and Gabi, AlishaMarie, and MyLifeAsEVa, rack up millions of subscribers and views by doing hauls of everything from clothing to beauty supplies to bedroom décor.

Hauling isn't necessarily bad -- in fact, lots of haulers project a wholesome persona. But steeping yourself in them can be unhealthy. Let's face it -- they're shallow. And shopping is only fun for people who can afford it. Susceptible tweens and teens can also develop anxiety about not measuring up. Below are some of the key issues around haul videos to discuss with your tween and teen, as well as tips for balancing the superficiality with a dose of parental wisdom:

They're shamelessly pro-shopping. Not just expensive stuff -- all shopping. If you're a parent who's concerned about consumerist culture overtaking your kid, haul videos are your worst nightmare.

  • Talk to your kid about gratitude. The problem with constantly acquiring things is that you're always on the lookout for the next great thing. It can prevent you from appreciating what you have and leave you feeling like you'll never have enough. Express feelings of gratitude, and encourage your kid to value things that have meaning, such as your childhood teddy bear -- not just new stuff.

They're all about appearance. Hauls are about the way things look. Such a focus on appearance can negatively impact kids' self-esteem.

  • Talk to your kid about inner beauty. Stress that what's inside -- what you think, what you do, and the impact you make in the world -- is what really matters.

They promote an unrealistic ideal. Haulers project perfection: Their makeup is perfect, their outfits are perfect, their bedrooms are to die for. But studies show that the unrealistic ideal of perfection portrayed in social media triggers anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues when kids compare their lives to others' seemingly flawless ones.

They leave out the most important thing. Where's the money? While plenty of YouTubers get income off their YouTube channels, and some get sponsorships and endorsement deals, kids don't see the effort it takes to earn the money needed to fund those hauls. And that's a recipe for debt.

  • Talk to your kid about money. Teach kids about budgeting, prioritizing, and saving. Kids growing up in a digital world rarely see cash, but need to understand the value of money. Consider a financial literacy app such as Savings Spree to help them learn these lessons.
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