Every month, we ask YouthBeat® respondents what they want to be when they grow up. In the last few years, we’ve seen growth in STEM-based careers like “Scientist” and “Architect,” among both male and female youth. In the first half of 2017, the youngest kids are most likely to want to be a professional athlete (17%), as are Tweens (12%, tied with “I don’t know”). Teens, facing down their careers most closely, are the most uncertain—they are most likely to answer “I don’t know” (21%).*
Yet, a recent study in the UK reported that 75% of youth ages 6-17 want to be a YouTube influencer.** Other popular career choices include model and pop star. The authors attribute these aspirations to a desire to express youths’ creativity and personal uniqueness, while also acquiring fame. Meanwhile in the U.S., SocialStar Creator Camp grooms teens who want to appear on media from YouTube creations to Saturday Night Live.
But are performance-based career goals truly fulfilling? A recent NPR article suggests that they are hard work, and not always self-actualizing. YouTube personalities generally write, direct, edit, and produce their own material. And they’re met with trolls on every post—hating on posts is the modern form of bullying by anonymous critics. Waiting for the dopamine rush generated by more followers, likes, and clicks is fraught with worry about such trolls.
At YouthBeat®, our POV is that social media stardom is at best a fleeting pastime. Young people are sure to be adored by their parents, grandparents, and acquaintances, but need to be protected from the bilious anonymous criticism of the public. Careers can only be developed by the random few—and trades and STEM lines of work are likely to be more psychologically and financially profitable for most of Generation Z.
*Source: YouthBeat® Jan-June 2017
**Source: TheSun 2017