YouTube channels are the new Facebook page and other trends that make your curriculum irrelevant

I stopped to check on my son’s computer because responsible parents know vaguely what their kids are doing online. But also, most of the time when I look at what kids are doing online, I learn something shocking.

For example:

It’s hip to be literalLlamas with Hats is one of the most popular animations on YouTube, (and I confess that I love it almost as much as my kids do). If Gen X was the generation of irony, Gen Z is the literal generation. Llamas with Hats is funny because it’s literal. This is true of other Gen Z humor as well, like How to Basic. And Adventure Time is popular for it’s layered literalness rather than for, say the layered innuendo of children’s animation, which stems from the wave (little as it may be) of Gen X leadership at Disney and Pixar.

Cooking shows are hugely popular with young boys. I have no statistics on this fact, but I do know I’ve seen a lot of culinary videos as I peer over my kid’s shoulder. I also know kids talk about cooking shows at birthday parties more than they talk about Adventure Time, and the latter was featured in Time magazine. And my son—the younger, baking-all-the-time son—announced that our dishes are not good for plating the food he cooks, and we need to buy “flat,white dishes like they have on TV”.

YouTube Channels are the new Facebook page and 3-D graphics are de reigeur. My kids each launched their own YouTube channels, but, like the bloggers of the last ten years, they quickly tired of producing content on a regular basis, and started selling tools to other YouTubers. That’s right. My son taught himself to use AfterEffects and Cinema 4D, and now he’s selling 3-D “YouTube intros” to kids he meets on Skype.

What’s interesting to me is that when I purchased the student version of Cinema 4D, the sales guy said that it’s for college students. I bought it anyway, thinking my son would quickly lose interest, but he loves how in demand he is among kids who will accept nothing less than 3-D animation for their YouTube channels.

Then I started to look around, and I noticed that while kids are unimpressed with cameras (they are everywhere—even on a DS) kids love 3-D animation. And once I realized this, I saw it everywhere. For example, Bright World eBooks is an app for kids to read/play/explore 3-D animated books.

I used to think kids could learn to write with blogs. And I thought they could illustrate their own stories in Photoshop. I thought that how I make a living staying ahead of trends would mean that I would have a sense of what my kids should really be learning. But honestly, everything I’ve learned about 21st century skills I’ve learned from letting my kids find them on their own.


8 replies
  1. jessica
    jessica says:

    Number of things:

    My husband met Fred. His best advice? Just keep delivering. That’s how you learn. That’s how you stay aware of the trends in your field.

    My younger brother (21) does not use Fb. It’s not very ‘in the moment’. They’re content algorithm annoys me. Everything on there is a pay to play scheme now. Anyway, he and his friends use Snapchat. They don’t collect friends. They use Vine for entertainment. 6 seconds is a sweet spot for attention.

    My son made cookies this morning. We have white plates. He doesn’t dominate the internet, he dominates his playground. He organizes all the games, appoints the teams, and makes the rules. I have to admit it’s funny to watch him at 7 tell a 13 year old what to do. It’s good natured and everyone has fun.

    Don’t worry about your kids trends, as they live in a different world. There really isn’t a way for us to know what they know and that’s a good thing. That’s how change happens. By allowing them to pursue what’s available to them at their own pace and time, they’ll be prepared. Which is what matters.

  2. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    My youngest son, now 16, has tried and tried to figure out some video tools I bought him, but he struggles. I keep telling him there have to be YouTube videos out there that explain.

    But my point is that his Gen X dad, who blogs, still thinks in terms of text. I have no existing skills that will help him with the video stuff. Such a strange modern generation gap.

  3. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    We have been using Toon Boom Studios for animation, but I’m excited for them to try out 4D Cinema!

    At first I thought it was really cool that my oldest creates animation and wants to sell her animation with my 6 year old right behind her, but I guess it is actually very common! I still think it is cool, just not as rare an occurrence as I assumed.

    I’m not sure what this translates to for the future, since it is all a seemingly new phenomenon for GenZ. It is difficult to predict.

    • Bostonian
      Bostonian says:

      Here’s a putative scenario:

      Kids are really into 3D animation today because it’s new. When I was a kid you couldn’t do that stuff. Computing and display capacity now permits easy access to 3D drawing and design for children.

      The drawing is only half the equation, though. The other half is the modeling. Here’s an example: I got a crown fifteen years ago. It took multiple visits to the dentist, lots of gooey crud in my mouth, waiting on the postal service, and a crown that had to be replaced later anyway. I also got a crown earlier this year. I did it in a single visit, because it was CAD/CAM modeled off hand-altered 3D scans of my tooth. This simply wasn’t possible 15 years ago. And, believe me, it’s sooo much better.

      How many new things are going to be commonly created through CAD/CAM fifteen years from now, but aren’t today? How much logistic infrastructure can be efficiently replaced with enough skilled local (or even remote) operators? How will 3D design and manufacturing capabilities and skills affect various fields? Look up how Hugh Herr makes prosthetics for an example.

  4. Karelys
    Karelys says:

    I still can’t get over him plating the food and announcing you need white plates. Too funny! And sweet.

    I can’t wait for the kids to be that age.

  5. Nur Costa
    Nur Costa says:

    I have tried to consistently upload videos on youtube to help boost the blog’s traffic but it was a total failure ’cause:

    1- I am a bad speaker. In fact, I am better in front of the camera, cause I am alone and I can edit that later. Imagine how bad I am in real life. I need to work on that.
    2- Making myself look ready, recording and editing means no time to write (which I am not willing to give up). Therefore, I am not consistent. And Youtube rewards channels (same day, same time).
    3- Watching myself during the editing process it’s painful. That’s why I’d rather edit stuff that doesn’t have my face on (like my India trip video series).

    Conclusion: I’d rather specialize myself into writing. Anything else would distract myself from getting good at something.

    Your kids are super smart by the way. I feel old. Cause I figure this stuff out, but then I am too lazy to execute it. Probably because I don’t want the money. Which is a pity because I am inevitably throwing myself into a stereotypical INFP’s low-salary avg.

  6. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I disagree “YouTube Channels are the new Facebook page”. Facebook’s platform is able to do a better job of supporting all elements of communication (text, images, audio, and video) together to convey a message or story. If video were the only relevant medium, the YouTube channel would be my choice. If your meaning is YouTube channels are the current hot, preferred medium for young people, then I would agree. I think YouTube has its limitations which are inherent and need text and images to complete the package. Consequently, blogs are a good choice as YouTube videos may be included within them.
    There is a very good article ( ) which includes the mention of YouTube, self-directed and project based learning, content curation, and online learning with reference to schools. Basically, schools are lagging behind with their ability to correctly use and optimize the use of the digital tools available today. A good reason to homeschool as I believe most of the attention and time should be devoted to thinking skills in the classroom.

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