These days, our children aspire to become famous YouTubers when they grow up.
I am astounded at the vast influence YouTubers have on children. In my kids’ world, these people are famous superstars, to be envied and adored. While some YouTubers have great talents they share with the world, most of them seem to have a distinct lack of talent. It bothers me that kids hero worship people who are not doing anything remotely useful with their lives. I would much prefer that children looked up to people like Greta Thunberg, people who are working to change the world.
Am I just old-fashioned?
There were obviously no YouTubers when I was growing up in the late eighties and early nineties. I aspired to become like people I actually knew, like my teachers and family members. The celebrities I admired were people like Mister Rogers, Bob Ross, and LeVar Burton. My kids admire other children who unbox toys and families who prank each other. While these people are harmless, they are also not inspiring children to achieve anything in their lives.
It really bothers me when schoolchildren say that they want to be YouTubers when they grow up.
Their career aspirations are to make videos and become famous. It saddens me when they have no other goals for their lives. While it’s technically possible to become famous enough to earn a living through making videos, it’s highly unlikely. The real world is going to be brutal to teens who have no backup plans for their YouTube dreams. I worry that they are going to be so disappointed with whatever their real lives entail, which won’t be as easy and glamorous as those of the YouTubers they admire.
It also bothers me that children watching YouTube don’t realize that what they see isn’t the whole picture.
YouTubers tend to plan out their videos and pick out the best shots. Makeup, lighting, and editing make people look completely different than they do in real life. People also tend to only share the best of themselves online. When people don’t share their sadnesses and disappointments, children assume that they don’t have any. Social media is brutal to our children’s self-esteem.
What can we do?
I don’t think there’s a way to stop the influence social media has on our children. I try to dilute its influence by introducing my children to quality literature. I also try to aim them towards more educational YouTube content. I can only hope that it will be enough.
My middle schooler really likes learning about science in a fun way with the In a Nutshell channel.
For older children, he also recommends Weird History.
The kids at the elementary school I work at all love learning about science from Mystery Doug.
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