What is a Mukbang and Why Do Kids Watch Them?

Why Do Kids Love Mukbangs?

Mukbangs are a type of eating show that originated in South Korea. It became popular around 2010 and soon spread to other parts of Asia. The initial appeal of mukbangs was that people felt like they were eating with a friend, but in recent years it has morphed to a digital sideshow circus with many channels finding extreme ways to get views, although videos with people eating delicious food still exist and do well too.

During the early stages of mukbang shows, people began streaming themselves cooking and eating various foods across different South Korean social media platforms. Some mukbangers would talk to the camera and have a conversation with their audience who could reply in a live chat very similar to Twitch’s layout, while other mukbangers hardly spoke at all and just ate their food.

Mukbangs offer a way for people to simulate eating or hanging out with someone else while being alone at home.

Mukbang Videos Simulate Social Interaction
Mukbang Videos Simulate Social Interaction

Traditional Asian families typically eat together in large groups that include extended family, but this practice has become less common in some Asian countries due younger generations becoming more isolated. This youth isolation is evident in countries like South Korea and Japan.

Across all cultures, eating with a large group of family and friends was commonplace, but that tradition has shifted in modern times due to people needing to spread out to find work, more young people living on their own, and social media making people less social. That’s why mukbangs are now popular all over the world, not just in Asia.

As mukbangs became more popular, the way mukbangs looked began to change, especially when they became popular on English-speaking social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok. The genre shifted into various categories like ASMR content with people buying sensitive microphones to record the subtle sounds of cooking, cutting, and eating, and extreme content where people eat 4,000 calorie meals and live sea animals!

Mukbangs became popular in the English-speaking world when an infamous YouTuber named Trisha Paytas uploaded the first English-speaking mukbang in 2015, after watching a video where YouTubers react to mukbangs. Soon after, Trisha posted her first mukbang, other influencer started posting eating videos all over social media. People became obsessed with watching mukbangers eat.

Kids like mukbangs because many eating videos are hypnotic and purposely shot to be attention-grabbing. Some mukbang channels like Dona English, wear bright-colored clothes and design colorful sets and food to attract younger viewers. The adult mukbangers in the Dona English channel even act very childlike in their videos.

HunniBee ASMR makes food that looks like real objects like hairbrushes and cell phones. The bright-colored food that she eats on camera is strange and captivates both adults and kids alike.

Just like adults, children also enjoy the social aspect of watching eating shows. They feel like they are hanging out with their favorite mukbangers when they watch their videos. A lot of kids don’t get to have family meals or might not have a stable home life, so watching mukbangs gives them a sense of comfort and stability. But, even kids with good homes can enjoy mukbangs too. Kids will either be drawn to the funny person in the video, the food, or the click-bait aspect of certain videos.

There’s a dark side to mukbangs that parents need to be aware of so that they can educated their kids on what is healthy and not healthy to watch. A lot of mukbang channels like Nikocado Avocado post extreme content where they have a truckload of food in front of them and do crazy things like fight on camera or take enormous bites of giant food that would make most people feel sick immediately.

Many mukbangers end up spitting out their food or throwing up off camera. It’s just not normal or healthy to eat that way but it gets views and makes money. A lot of kids end up watching extreme eating shows because those videos are purposely made to get people’s attention, but this content is not healthy for kids to watch.

There’s an even darker side to mukbangs where people eat live animals for views. Even Dona English has several videos where they eat live octopi. Those types of channels unfortunately have millions of followers and views and make millions of dollars. Despite YouTube being strict and deleting accounts over the most trivial things, animal abuse mukbangs almost never get deleted or demonetized.

Extreme mukbang content is really harmful to kids. Watching someone eat everything on the McDonald’s menu in one sitting is promoting unhealthy eating. And watching people eating live animals is promoting animal abuse. Many extreme mukbang channels also exploit their own kids in their videos by forcing them to eat and perform in front of the camera, even if they don’t want to. It’s important to talk to your child about mukbangs and what content is healthy and unhealthy to watch.

MommyTang’s channel is a good example of a healthy mukbang channel. She is really funny and cooks healthy vegan Asian food while talking about her family life.

Sometimes her daughters will pop up in her videos voluntarily, but they aren’t forced to perform like kids in other mukbang channels.

There’s also Cheap Lazy Vegan who has a bubbly personality and cooks and eats delicious vegan food from around the world. She eats large, but still normally large, portions and eats mostly healthy food.

Do you like watching mukbang videos or do you think it’s weird and gross? Let us know in the comments!

Tracy Lowe

Tracy is a writer and filmmaker from Los Angeles, but Thailand has been her primary home for over a decade. She has more than 13 years of experience teaching young children and is a major proponent of the Reggio Emilia approach to learning.

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