Traditionally, children who wanted to make some extra money could do so by selling things at school, locally or to friends and family. However, with a range of digital technologies available to them, children today have a variety of potential ways they can make money, including selling items online, gaming (e.g. through participation in eSports and through streaming sites such as Twitch) and making YouTube videos.
Recent CHILDWISE research reveals that over half of children aged 7-16 make money, or think they could make money, from their skills, hobbies or interests, with the number of children saying this increasing with age (51% of 7-12s rising to 54% of 13-16s). Overall, boys are more likely to think they could make money through their skills, hobbies or interests than girls.
Children today mention a variety of skills, hobbies or interests that they make or think they could make money from including football (being the most popular), selling (including selling cakes, ‘old things’ and paintings), drawing, gaming and YouTube. For example, one eight-year-old boy said “I buy and sell for a tiny bit more. I also make things and sell them and I sell things I don’t want anymore”.
But where are children making this money? Who are they making or selling these things for? And what impact does this have on their perspectives on future careers. These questions are explored in greater depth below:
Making money at home
The most popular location for children to make money through their skills hobbies or interests is at home, with almost half of children making money there. In comparison, only a small proportion of children make money through selling things at local events, at school or at local shops (19%, 18% and 10% respectively). The majority of children today have access to a computer at home (94% of 5-16s, 2020 CHILDWISE Monitor survey), allowing them to use a variety of websites and apps to make money. For example, an 11-year-old girl stated she makes money by “selling stuff on apps like depop etc.”. This research reveals that online marketplace eBay is the most popular website children use to make money, followed by YouTube and gaming websites.
Making things / selling things for themselves
Children who make money are most likely to make or do these things for themselves, with seven in ten doing so. For example, a child may make YouTube videos for themselves because they enjoy making them, rather than making videos explicitly for people who watch them. Only a minority of children specifically make or sell things to people online or who live further away. Children who make money through their skills, hobbies or interests are most likely to save the money they make, with the majority doing so. Only a small proportion of children spend the money they make on materials to make more. However, there are a number of potential reasons for this, including children using their existing pocket money to buy goods, children selling their old unwanted items and new ways of making money such as YouTube and gaming which require fewer materials. For example, a 7-year-old girl said “I sell my books and things I don’t need” and a 14-year-old boy claimed he makes money by “playing Video Games, I have a YouTube channel with over 1000 subscribers therefore I can make crumbs of money from ad revenue”.
As well as making money through their skills, hobbies or interests, doing so can help to provide children with valuable experience, which can be used to inform and contribute to their future career plans. For example, three in four children who make money through their skills, hobbies or interests think they could turn these into a proper job when they are older, compared to fewer than half of those who do not / do not think they could make money. Children who make money this way are also more likely to know what sort of job they want than those who do not make money.
Leading on from this, children who make money through their skills, hobbies or interests are also more likely to want to be their own boss than those who do not make money. Children who make money this way, may also be more aware of the realities of working / running a business, as these children are more likely to agree that being their own boss would mean a lot of responsibility and stress.
Overall, those making money from their skills, hobbies or interests are most likely to agree that finding a job they enjoy is more important than how much they could earn, with around seven in ten saying this. Despite this difference, it should be noted that the majority of children (regardless of whether or not they make money) agree that finding a job that they enjoy is more important to them than how much they could earn.
Findings from this research also include: