So, your kids want a digital career? I get that. There’s a shift away from traditional employment happening. So maybe your child will be a YouTuber or eSports Gamer or any of the other hundreds of things people do online as jobs. But I can help you, and your kids, be ready for this change. After all, times are changing and there is no going back.
I am constantly playing devils advocate for screen time for kids and embracing technology as part of our modern lives. Some will say it’s not my place, as a ‘have’er of no children’ but I argue that I am uniquely placed to understand the possibility that your kid, at least one of them, will work in a digital career. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you they’ll become a digital millionaire to support you in your old age, shall I? Haha.
What happens when your child comes home and declares their ambition to be a YouTuber, a Blogger, a Digital Entrepreneur or an eSports Gamer? How would you react to these ‘new’ careers?
For a lot of the parents I’ve spoken to, this is one of those ‘silly kids’ things. Like being an astronaut or a cowboy (both of which could happen, remember that!). Of course, every teenager wants to play Fortnite for a living or be a global YouTube star at the age of 10. But in the end, it’s not a career, a real job, something that they can count on to support them in the future. Right? No, actually. You couldn’t be more wrong.
I’m living proof of that and I’ve had very limited success with online fame and fortune. But as far as having a career online, I’ve 100% done that. I had to come up with something, my skills on Fortnite are limited to hiding in bushes until someone finds me. (Top 7, don’t @ me, haha). There’s a huge range of careers out there and it’s important to keep moving with these trends.
I saw a figure in a YouTube video (it’s where I get my news now, take note of THAT) the other day that said very soon the percentage of people working ‘for’ someone and the number of people working ‘freelance’ will switch positions. Something like more than 85% of people will be working for themselves in some capacity. I think if you, or your child, has an interest in doing their thing online, now is the time. The world is changing and the way we are working, being employed and even seeing careers is changing.
We just need to stop getting in the way.
This year, we started a YouTube channel for my nieces and nephews. It’s called Aunty Suger Presents… and is obviously the cutest thing ever. The kids, especially my brother’s eldest two, had been asking about making videos for a long time. Long before I started making them for myself. When they kept asking, we did it. I’m saying we because obviously their parents were involved in this process. For those playing at home.
We didn’t start the channel to give in to that pressure from them. Their interest in not just passively watching, but making something didn’t lessen. That was the first thing. But it ended up being a yes because there’s a lot to be learned from creating content for the internet. (Their aunt does it, after all.) Skills that will serve them later. Things like confidence and ability to make a plan and execute it. Not to mention problem-solving, conflict resolution and a whole conversation around consumerism, consumption and having more than you need.
But how do you take those things and turn them into a solid foundation for a career in the digital world?
I thought you’d never ask. Because I have a few ideas about that. Firstly, I think you have to involve the kids in the process of creating. For some kids, they’ll have no interest in the whole thing. Great, this isn’t for them. But the ones that want to make videos, show them how. Show them the work that goes into it even if they never go on YouTube. Support them to come up with ideas and create. Show them what it takes to execute. I’ve found that the kids are more engaged in the making process when I talk them through the stages and get them involved.
Don’t rule out these careers as ‘real’ careers.
There are people all over the world, well below the top-tier superstars, making a comfortable living doing something that makes them very happy. For people to have something that they love to do and make it their career has always been my ideal; I want that for everyone. Wouldn’t you want that for your child?
When your child says they want to be a YouTuber, I get the concerns related to that some of those fools are ridiculous. BUT, you can support the dream without being on board with that kind of outcome. Find ways to develop your child’s skills. Sure, they might want to be the next Ninja (Fortnite superstar) and is probably lobbying hard for more game time. But there are other skills to develop for a gamer; things like critical thinking, dexterity and reflexes. Make it part of their ‘training program’ and include a range of activities based on the end goal of becoming a professional gamer.
You kids want a digital career? Support the foundation, even if you’re like, wtf IS this?
My parents, almost a decade after I started my business, still aren’t overly sure how the whole thing works. How a person gets paid to ‘influence’ or create content online. But that has never meant that they weren’t behind me, giving advice on the things they COULD do. From a young age, we were given training in answering phones, computers, managing finances and more because they were business owners and they wanted to pass on their skills. To this day, I still go to them with those types of questions in my business. They built a foundation and their support of me helps me to know I can ask them anything.
And finally, teach them how to operate online. As a parent, I can get that your outcome is 100% focused on raising a decent human. That extends to how they operate online. As I came back to this post, I had recently had a conversation with a friend whose child is not being their best self online. To put it lightly. The struggle for her, and many others I’m sure, is how do you ensure that the qualities you encourage in your kids are the same ones they are showing online? Especially when there’s a world of pressure to behave contra to that.
I have no magic solution. Sorry, I know, it sounded like it was leading up to something big, right? All I have to offer is to be present. Participate when you can (interact with your child online and in the settings, they are hanging out in). My favourite thing to do when hanging out with friends is playing video games with their kids. Yes, that means you’re probably going to have to learn that new game or create an Instagram account. But whatever is within your means to be present. And yes, you can’t be everywhere, and I have a little personal conflict about kids having their privacy, but keep the literal and figurative doors open. That matters.
Show them how you behave online, involve them and make sure they realise that online conduct has real-world consequences.
I hope that helps those of you who are wading into the kids want a digital career thing. There’s an absolutely shift away from the traditional model of employment happening. This generation is going to be working online more than any that have come before them. As freelancers, content creators, influencers, entrepreneurs and business owners. Let’s not take their opportunity to prepare for this style of a career away from them by not being open-minded and informed. We need to do our best to stay relevant and on top of the changes to offer these kids the best advice we can. Questions? Leave them below.