Helping kids and teens find their passions (and, helping parents embrace their kids' interests)

two boys playing computer games

We are all guilty of making definitive statements for point of emphasis, like “I never win contests” or “I haven’t eaten all day.”

It’s just habit. We aren’t trying to deceive the person on the other end of the conversation. It’s just easier to default to generalities.

So when your child says "I'm not passionate about anything," is it the truth?

I ask because “anything” has an entirely new meaning these days….

For years and years, “anything” referred to generally accepted, popular interests. Thus, “anything” really only meant a few things, not all of them. Kids and teens, then, could be interested in sports, music, theater, books, art, and more, and if they were, then that meant they had an interest in something.

If they weren’t interested in those things, though, and instead, spent their free time playing video games, or just goofing around with friends and a video camera, or simply watching TV—they were wasting their time.

But times have changed.

First, this isn’t meant to be advice on how anyone should parent and raise their kids. I’m a dad, but a relatively new one, so I can only imagine the difficulties and challenges that are ahead.

With that said, I just have a hard time hearing that there are kids and teens out there in 2020 without interests.

Because really, in today’s world, an interest in something, no matter what it is, can be of value.

It’s confusing, I know.

How to help children embrace passions

My point is, traditional “time wasters” or activities thought of to have zero redeeming qualities can, in fact, be leveraged and become careers worth hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars.

A passion for video games

We’ve routinely touted the fact that an interest in video games could eventually turn into a career in the gaming industry

The statement is still very much true, but there’s a hole—you can say that for pretty much anything. I mean, there are professional hot dog eaters, you know?

So, while I 100% stand behind the fact that your child gamer should progress from playing video games to learning how to code a game as a career, they actually can (gasp!) make a career from simply playing video games.

There's no more fighting it. It’s not a fluke thing where one kid got lucky and is the master gamer of all the world and thus, gets paid for displaying their skills.

Consider this:

“The eSports industry has grown at a tremendous pace over the past few years. Per a report from Newzoo, total eSports revenue jumped from $493 million in 2016 to $655 million in 2017, and total revenue could exceed $900 million in 2018.”

eSports, if you didn’t know, is competitive video gaming, where professional gamers go head-to-head in a multiplayer game in front of spectators. So yes, like sports with teams competing for the victory, except with video games. (View more eSports information.)

Back to the quote above—over half a billion dollars! That’s money from sponsorships, where big-name tech companies are putting funds behind eSports teams. It’s also money from media rights, where broadcasters like Twitch and YouTube pay to stream these live gaming events. And of course, it’s money from advertising, merchandise, and much more.

Colleges have eSports programs. There are eSports summer camps.

And there isn’t just money to be made from such eSports events. In fact, a professional gamer can simply stream themselves playing video games from home and earn money while doing so. Such revenue comes in the form of receiving donations or tips from viewers, building their own subscriber count, and again, getting sponsored or displaying ads during their streams.

Not to mention that, just like professional sports (are video games sports?), gamers can earn money training or coaching and teaching others.

All in all, an interest in video games means much more today than it ever has, and identifying your child's strengths and skills in video games can pay off. Gamers can make careers out of becoming video game designers or developers, but can also earn from just being really good and/or entertaining when they’re playing.

A passion for YouTube

Have you ever spent time on YouTube? Of course you’ve seen a video here and there, but have you ever sat down to dive down a rabbit hole, clicking from one video to the next for an extended period of time?

I don’t suggest making a hobby of it, but try it once.

In doing so, you’ll be amazed at the breadth of content being created. Videos that you wouldn’t think anyone would have an interest in viewing are amassing hundreds of thousands of views.

There are of course positive and negative effects of YouTube, but starting your own YouTube channel can pay dividends.

Those who have built their own brands, delivering vlogs or tutorials, “Let’s Play” gaming videos, or even more traditional short films have curated loyal followers; followers who watch and share videos to the point where the YouTuber can earn revenue, much like that of a video game streamer.

I know, I know… even with the understanding that kids and teens can earn revenue from becoming a YouTube star, giving the green light on your children creating videos with their free time can still be difficult.

But, think about it this way—to create great videos, kids will need to learn a lot more than simply how to sit in front of a camera.

Meaning, there are a number of related skills in which one will need to become proficient if they aspire to “professional” levels of success.

Things like:

  • Using professional video equipment to capture footage
  • Using software to edit that footage
  • Engineering audio
  • Using screen capture software
  • Creating an online brand and developing marketing chops
  • Practicing digital citizenship and community interaction
  • Becoming proficient in something to the point that they can teach others via tutorials
  • Storyboarding and collaboration

It’s easier to buy in when you think about it that way, isn’t it? (Check out iD Tech’s YouTube summer camps, from video production to gamecastingYouTube video effects, and more.)

Again, “anything” = any one thing

Such thinking takes some getting used to, but if you try, you can piece together how your child’s interest, no matter how trivial you think it might be, can turn into a true passion, and maybe a full-fledged career down the road.

View all iD Tech courses, and help your kinds and teens find their passions today. 

A photo of Ryan

Ryan manages blog content at iD Tech, starting with the company in 2008. He earned his MBA from Santa Clara University after obtaining his Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State. Connect on LinkedIn!