The world is changing, and the labor market is changing with it. Traditional labor jobs are being automated. New technology allows one person to do the work of many. It also provides opportunities for people to start their own ventures without much overhead. With the fast and ever-changing digital world taking over, it can be difficult to know how to prepare our children. It’s impossible to know exactly what path they should take to be happy and successful. First, remember that doing your best is absolutely enough. Second, consider these life skills that can help your child forge their own way in the future!
- Nurture Curiosity
Things change quickly, and keeping up with the newest tech can make your head spin. If you want your child to stay current, let them be curious! Curiosity is a skill that translates to all fields, and will give your child the drive to learn new technology as it is developed.
How do you nurture curiosity in your child? Stop giving them all the answers. That doesn’t mean ignore their questions, or tell them to “look it up”. If they ask you a question, try saying “how can we find that out?” Let them take apart their toys. Encourage them to experiment. It may take more time then asking Siri, but you’ll be giving your child a world of benefits. Curious kids become problem solvers. They learn about a subject, but also how to access knowledge.
- Develop Creativity
People think that being creative is the same as being artistic, but that just isn’t the case. Creativity is exercising your brain. It’s the ability to come up with more than one answer to a question. In fact, a standard test to measure creativity is the simple question, “what can you do with a brick?” The more answers you can come up with, the more creative you are!
Most kids are naturally creative. Their brains are building connections all the time. But just like any skill, you either use it or lose it. Even if your creativity muscle is weak, you can build it up over time. Help your kids practice creativity daily! That might mean having them study music or art, but it can be as simple as having them tell you a story. Maybe get them to come up with a dessert “recipe” for the night. Or see if they can do a common chore in a different way.
- Encourage a Growth Mindset
Technology is a constantly changing quantity. With every new tool comes a round of testing and improving. We have gotten used to the “update” mentality. We buy the newest thing, expecting there to be a few bugs. We trust that the bugs will be worked out in the next update.
Encourage your kids to have an update mentality, or growth mindset. It’s important that they understand the value of failure. Everything they do is building their brain and their skills. Just like with a new app, if there are problems the developers just keep working on solutions. Anytime your child is challenged, help them see how they are learning and growing.
- Teach Digital Literacy
While the future of technology is impossible to predict, that doesn’t mean that we can’t prepare for it. Digital literacy is the ability to navigate different digital platforms and modalities. Digital literacy closes the learning gap for new technologies. When children are younger, digital literacy can be as easy as letting your kids play with digital toys! Let them play video games, mess around with apps, and try out tech toys. Of course, everything in moderation and with your supervision. As they get older, encourage your kids to learn about how the tech works. Learning how to code, joining a robotics team, or building a kit computer are all great ways to develop digital literacy. Kids can even use their first jobs to build digital literacy. Kids as young as fifteen have a variety of tech job opportunities available to them, such as game testing and app development.
- Raise Entrepreneurs!
One of the most exciting things about the digital age is how it is empowering entrepreneurs. Creating a business used to require an idea or service that was valuable to your individual community. Now, we have access to a global audience. There is a consumer for every good and service, we just have to provide it. To truly prepare your children for the digital job market, help them explore their entrepreneurial side. Even younger kids can start their own blogs or sell digital content (with your help). Let them try it out! It will help build resiliency and confidence.
Traditional paths to success are changing. To help our kids, we have to prepare them for the unknown. The key is to remember that the jobs of the future have not been invented yet. Our kids need to be flexible, confident, and resilient in the face of change.
Ron Stefanski is the founder of JobsForTeensHQ.com and has a passion for helping teenagers find jobs. He created the website because he feels that teenagers need to focus on their professional passions much earlier in life and aims to teach them how they can do that. When he’s not working on his website, Ron is a college professor and loves to travel the world.