Do we want kids to be consumers or creators?


Arguably, most kids are “basic”—i.e., trend followers who buy what everyone else is buying, watch what everyone else is watching, and look at what all the popular people are posting. It’s the same with a lot of adults, obviously. It’s natural to have tastes that are similar to your peers and to want to fit in. But should we support kids’ urge to simply be consumers of culture rather than creators of culture?

Instead of challenging them to make or do cool things, we often just agree to drive them to cool shops and other IG photo opp locations. So that they can take endless pics of themselves that will lead to what, exactly?

Creating new things and leading others requires kids to think. And encouraging them to do this requires us to think. Because in order to lure them out of their culture-consuming zombie state, we gotta be really clever. We gotta inspire and motivate them.

Or maybe we don’t. Maybe we just have to ban screen time for an hour or two and let them get bored. Give them drawing supplies. A musical instrument. A cookbook. Or even a little creative assignment. (“Invent a new recipe.” “Create a vision board.” “Write a 2-page screenplay and shoot it with your phone.” “Compose some music on GarageBand.” “Draw your dream bedroom.” “Think of a problem that lots of people deal with and come up with a solution.” “Think of a business you’d like to start.” “Think of a change you’d like to see happen and how you could get people on board.”)

I have often mindlessly indulged kids, either because I’m a people-pleaser and don’t want to deal with pushback, or because I relate to their desire for status (thus, IG posts that telegraph “My life is dope and I do dope shit”). But starting now, I am going to challenge myself to challenge kids more. They are worth the effort.