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Tech & Media

My Kid Thinks She Doesn’t Need A Job Because She’s Going To Be A YouTube Star

Jan 3, 2019

Recently, I had a generational divide moment with my 11-year-old.

But now that generation Z is being raised on YouTube, they see a whole new path for themselves....

I asked my daughter if she’d like to be a lifeguard when she’s a teenager. Her grandparents have been faithfully taking her to swimming lessons since she was small. She looked at me with utter horror in her eyes. “What? Why would I want to get a job?” she asked.

Did I forget to mention that she’s expected to get some kind of employment in her adolescence? Whoops.

I told her, of course, that when she is older, she will want to get a summer job to earn spending money and help save up for university. She looked up at me nonchalantly and said, “Don’t worry, mom. I won’t need a job. I’ll just make my money on YouTube.”

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Gulp. My kid has no plans to babysit, work at the local ice cream counter or towel-dry canine clients at the local pet wash — let alone taking that lifeguard gig at the community pool. Nope, my kid is going to make her fortune by being a star. On YouTube.

This is going to be a tough road for her. Starting with the reality that she’s not yet allowed to have her own YouTube channel. But I didn’t want to crush her tween dreams with minor details.

In order to be successful, whether on YouTube or anywhere else, kids really need the skills learned in more grounded jobs.

I’m from generation X and was raised by baby boomers. I hate to sound old, but when I was a kid if you wanted to earn some extra money, you got a job. Any job you could land. But now that generation Z is being raised on YouTube, they see a whole new path for themselves — one that dreams of mining internet gold 24/7.

And who can blame them? Today’s kids have grown up watching videos of other kids playing video games, unboxing toys, wiping out on a skateboard or just hanging out with their family. One of the biggest earners, a seven-year-old, pulls in $22 million a year for reviewing toys.

With the lure of big bucks dangling in front of their screens, it's no surprise that kids think YouTube is the yellow-brick road to glamour, fame and fortune. My kid is so hooked, she dressed as her favourite YouTuber for Halloween — Miranda Sings (the one who wears the red lipstick all over her face). Of course, no one under 12 knew who she was supposed to be.

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But sadly, recent research suggests that only a small fraction of wannabe YouTubers will make a go of it. While some will indeed make millions, almost 97 per cent won’t make enough to crack the poverty line. And something tells me there is a lot more to becoming a thriving online star than simply pointing your mom’s iPhone and hitting record.

In order to be successful, whether on YouTube or anywhere else, kids really need the skills learned in more grounded jobs. They need jobs like babysitting, raking leaves or becoming a camp counselor, where they learn the marketing, people and creative-thinking skills required to make a go of it in any career.

But more importantly kids learn the value of hard work. That there are real no shortcuts to accomplishments. The work itself is as important as the rewards it offers. Once you learn all that, then sure, follow your dreams and make it big on YouTube. You will always have at least one view. Promise.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the Co-Artistic Director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the Co-Host and Producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and pre-teen daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

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