It must not be easy to be a teenager or a kid these days. In the last fifteen years or so, alongside some technological evolution, we also have seen many different aspects of society that make us ask ourselves if we are going in the right direction or even if we are moving backward.
Even though science is at its peak, it has never been questioned so much. Meanwhile, political and economic issues are dominating our news, forcing our younger generation to consider issues they would never have to consider if we were at a different time.
There is a trend where young boys and girls from what’s called Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010) are more active in society and not only behind the scenes as they did in the past.
The ‘Zees’ (as I fondly call them) are inside the game and as main characters. Their words and opinions can change political scenarios, corporations’ agendas, and now financial habits as well.
The generation before them grew up in a very different environment. For them, the Internet has always been a regular part of their lives.
For those who were born in the 1990s and barely experienced dial-up connections, the language of the web is a natural language. Once they were old enough to use computers, broadband was already a reality for them.
But you can ask me now: and how does that change the Zees’ mindset? Well, I’ll tell you that: the questions are different.
While other generations asked ‘what is a satellite?’ for a science project, some of the Zees go beyond that and say ‘Hey, Google/Siri, can you show me the latest images of Hubble?’.
Their window is much wider than ours. They use the obvious questions as their first paragraph, and the content of their school projects is full of curiosities and beyond-the-obvious questions that just spring up into their heads.
So, yes, it is very hard to be a teenager and a kid nowadays. However, it’s also more challenging.
We can’t deny the power of a kid’s curiosity and his ability to think outside of the box – add that to the internet as a vast information source and you have young people who can really make a difference.
The Whales of Benyamin
Imagine the surprise of Benyamin Ahmed’s father when he knew his 12-year old son was about to get the “humble” amount of $400,000, out of the blue.
When the kid who lives in London got involved in NFTs, he became famous. He’d already been a fan of coding, but it was when he got into coding that he became famous.
Benyamin is a normal kid who enjoys playing with his brother. The difference is that those two siblings have a distinct way of having fun compared to what we did back in the day.
In a picture that his father Imran Ahmed sent to CNBC’s article about them, the two boys can be seen on two laptops, one beside the other, with cute smirks on their faces and seeming very concentrated on their screens.
I mean, I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s already a bit advanced for a 12-year old kid. But who am I? A Millenial that used to hear dial-up connections and thought aliens were coming through the screen when that happened.
The thing is that kids are not the same and having this kind of access to technology is also new. Children as young as 5 to 6 years old are already familiar with games like Roblox and Minecraft. A game like that gives children a glimpse of what building and programming is like and can introduce them to this world at a very young age.
Furthermore, they grow up not fearing binary code or letters mixed with symbols on dark screens.
As a consequence, Benyamin and his generational friends are ahead of the game and the web is their second home – the virtual one. In order to get some money, kids can hold garage sales in the physical world, and the digital world offers another solution. No more garage sales, newspaper distribution, or mowing the lawn.
What about selling NFTs?
Art has no age
Getting back to Benyamin’s “humble” amount of money, you can ask “how did this kid manage to get this?”.
The indirect answer is ‘through information and education. The direct answer is ‘NFTs’. Back in June 2021, Benyamin started his project called “Weird Whales”. Initially, it cost $300, directed to paying gas fees.
Online tutorials and mentors he met on Discord were the sources of technical information for Ahmed. With some help from the NFT community and some digging, the project launched in July. And that was when the surprise came: the entire collection sold out in nine hours.
The sale generated over 80 ETH in one day for Benyamin. Added that to 30 ETH, from the resale market in which Ahmed earns a 2.5% royalty, and he has total earnings over $400,000.
Shocked? Don’t be. That was a similar case from Jaiden Stipp, 15 years old, and Victor Langlois, 18.
Jaiden and Victor are two more examples of ‘Zees’ getting their money from authentic and authorial art pieces sold as NFTs. In an interview granted to Time magazine, Jaiden shared his dad’s awe with his kid’s money moves.
“My dad was like, ‘No way this is actual money’. It seems like it’s a lot of fake money being passed around. So we took some of the money out just to see what’s actually real. And then at the bank, I was like, ‘Whoa.’”
Stipp’s art is a digital illustration of an astronaut waving which was sold for 20 ETH.
As for Victor, aka FEWOCiOUS or Fewo, a transgender teenager who has made over $18 million in 2020 on his NFTs, the recognition for his artwork talking about his struggles and his life in a colorful way is a consequence of a world he was born in.
He said to Time magazine that growing up on social media, YouTube videos, and playing video games gives him the perspective of seeing this whole universe as normal.
“We understand, since growing up, trading digital assets in a video game and, like, working to get [things like] armor and leveling up. It just translates naturally to NFTs, because it’s like trading collectibles, or trading your art.”
Remember what I said about Roblox, Minecraft and others? Well, here’s your proof that they are not only kids’ games. Alongside those ones, as children get older, other games known as battle-royale, come into the picture.
Fortnite and Free Fire represent well what Fewo was talking about. In those games, assets are just as valuable as winning rounds. Skins (as it’s called the characters’ outfits) are very trendy and while they wait for the round to begin they display their looks and dance moves as some sort of warm-up.
Diversity and possibilities
It is not only the ages of those new artists that are impressive.
But also their diversity and economic backgrounds. As previously mentioned, Victor Langlois is letting all out with his artwork and getting not only money but recognition and praise for his creativity.
And as a transgender teenager, putting his suffering into art and being democratically recognized might feel wonderful.
He becomes an inspiration to many and the open nature of NFT’s hosting platforms helps young talent to spread their work without having to depend on galleries, sponsorship, and so on and so forth.
We can also take as an example the work of Devya Asmi, a 10-years-old autistic girl who has a series titled Amazing Devya. With the hashtag #autismartist, she’s breaking the rules of what is obvious for art in general and getting her talent spread to the world through her NFTs.
Of course, ages still impress us as well, so here’s the example of Emilio Barrera, a 7-year-old digital artist whose collection and his collection of doodles are titled, Arte de Emilio. His work is present on most NFT platforms.
And when you think distinctive creativity would only thrive on the internet, here’s 12-year-old Nyla Hayes’ work, most commonly known as “Long Necktie Women”, that is such a hit that TIMES chose it to be the cover of the magazine.
It’s a different world and we can’t deny it.
The opportunities flow from all around and we have to be sharp if we want to keep up.
Even though some issues might be rising with this flooded-informational world affecting people’s lives and health, this new vibe is showing that if we use the internet with its best resources we can find not only other forms of revenue but also some kind of cure and happiness through art and culture.
The examples provided by these kids illustrate that.
They are using what they have to do what they love. For them, it’s not impossible to learn more because they are too young, or from a third world country or any other situation. Kids usually don’t see boundaries and limitations where adults often see them.
So Fewo, Benyamin, Jaden, Naya and so many more are teaching us right now and we just have to watch.
Don’t think it’s too late: age does not matter in the tech world. Don’t think it’s too hard: information is available and you can do it even with limited resources.
To sum up: don’t limit yourself. You can learn more and change your life. It is possible.
That’s what these kids taught me. What did they teach you?