I get it, your aspiring teenager believes they’re going to be the next eSports champion to win a few million dollars and the thought of them buying you a new house sounds awfully nice. The reality is, most won’t be elite eSports champions, most will simply invest hundreds of hours into Fortnite, simply for entertainment.
Sometimes things happen in life happen, that reminds you that life is short and you need to make the most of the time you have. While teenagers often have an inflated sense of invincibility, they too suffer from the same clock called life, that we all do.
It’s time to encourage, as strongly as you can, to your teenagers that they can and should invest the spare time they have wisely. Before we get into the possible alternatives, I will mention that there is space in our lives for relaxation and entertainment, important to a well rounded individual.
So now here’s a list of some far more productive ways for teenagers to spend their times than Fortnite.
1. TED Talks
TED Talks are videos from experts in their respective fields that are designed to be short, influential speeches that are thought provoking. There’s a wide variety of topics from Technology, Design, Business, Science and even global issues that there’s something here for everyone.
By watching videos from ted.com, your teenager can see content that is from outside of their world, from experts on the other side of the planet and that could inspire them to make a different choice in life, particularly when it comes to deciding a career.
For more information, head to https://www.ted.com/talks
2. Learn creative skills
The ability to create and edit images goes far beyond adding filters in Instagram and Snapchat. Your teenager would be really well served by learning skills in creative applications like Adobe’s Creative Cloud.
From photos, to video, to web and mobile development, Adobe has a product for almost any creative task and there’s a reason they’re the industry standard.
Services like Lynda.com and even adobe’s own TV.adobe.com offer great options for learning Adobe and many other software applications. These skills will certainly assist your teenager in future School, TAFE or University assignments and will make them dramatically more employable than those who don’t.
3. Learn programming
As your child goes about using software made by other people, you should ask them, what do they think separates them and the people that write their favourite app? The answer is knowledge, an attribute that is easily learnable thanks to the wonders of the internet.
Working at McDonalds will pay for the next video game or maybe even the next gaming rig, but it won’t pay for life. The jobs of tomorrow will largely be ones that require either direct programming knowledge, or the skills and problem solving thought processes learnt by programming.
Your teenager has an amazing opportunity to get ahead of the pack, but investing time in programming. The next question is naturally which language and software should they learn to maximise their future job prospects?
For Windows desktop application development check out Microsoft’s Visual Studio, easily one of the most powerful development suites and the entry-level is free. This supports a wide range of languages, but most notably C#, XAML and more.
4. Start a blog
13 years ago I started techAU and the site has given me a chance to build an audience and generating plenty of money can’t buy experiences. Over a weekend I taught myself about self-hosted WordPress, bought some hosting and setup the site.
Over the years I had a chance to deploy my multimedia skills and customise WordPress themes to create a unique site, as well as craft images and videos to compliment each post.
I’ve worked with a number of other writers over the years and thanks to social media (a key technique to drive traffic to the site) I’ve also expanded my contact list significantly. I feel more connected to the world than ever before and that’s an amazing place to be.
Many people start a blog and stop a few months later. I never did. The reason is that I love it. Running my own site, I get to write about anything I like, wherever technology is interesting, I’ll cover it, or when I think content will be of interest to my audience.
Your teenager’s blog doesn’t have to focus on technology, there’s blogs that focus on literally anything you can think of, just find a niece and go for it. The outcomes are some great life skills like writing, analytics, advertising, relationships, diversification of revenue streams and certainly time management.
More info at WordPress.org
5. Become a content creator
A blog may not be the right fit for your teenager, if the’re comfortable in front of a camera, maybe a YouTube channel, a Facebook Page or Instagram account would be a better platform.
Like application development, you have to ask what your favourite online stars have and you don’t. Sure they may have access to better, more expensive technology, but anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can compete.
Build a decent audience and the offers will start coming. Just make sure your teenager is resilient and is mature enough to handle the wide variety of comments that come their way.
6. Learn about finances
After dealing with home loans, family and work budgets, superannuation, tax returns and financing large purchases like cars, I feel much of what I learnt at school did not prepare me well for a life of finances.
Thankfully there’s plenty of options to learn about how to increase your income, how to reduce your expenses and not only be financially responsible with your money, but others, should you find yourself in a role that you have control of budget.
Having a great handle on Excel to produce affordability options can dramatically reduce unknown risks, will serve your teenager well.
More information at ASIC’s MoneySmart website.