Kids summer camp teaches children about cryptocurrency, virtual reality, Web3 – Vox
For some kids, school vacations mean family vacations, part-time jobs, sports and hobbies, or just soaking in the general bliss of not having to do homework. for others, it means learning about nfts.
This summer in Los Angeles, dozens of kids ages 5 to 17 will attend the third session of Crypto Kids Camp, where they’ll learn everything from artificial intelligence to virtual reality through games and hands-on activities. (The camp was scheduled for this week during the April public school vacation, but due to a construction issue at their space, it was rescheduled for the summer.) is part of a burgeoning cottage industry made up of boot camps, startups, and video content dedicated to educating the next generation about web3, sometimes before they can even read.
Reading: Summer for children includes bitcoin cryptocurrencies
according to founder najah roberts, the camp is a way to bridge the wealth gap between privileged kids and underserved communities. “It’s important to catch our kids when they’re young to help open their minds to possibilities,” she says. “You can tell them that there are jobs in technology, but when they really know that they can create those jobs, those platforms, those games, you see that their minds open.”
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The week-long camp, which costs $500, divides kids into four age groups and asks them to spend a set amount of time on different tech modules that follow the acronym beast mode (i.e. blockchain, evolution of money, artificial intelligence, security/cyber, technology/virtual reality, mining and machine learning, online gaming, drones and engineering). some parents pay for it, but children from poorer backgrounds may be eligible for a scholarship. Kids who attend are given a laptop, a drone, a robot, a VR headset, and a phone with a crypto wallet, all of which they get to keep. “It’s like Christmas,” Roberts says of the day campers receive their wallets. “they’re excited”. She has big plans: By this summer, the crypto kids’ camp plans to operate in six states, and by fall, there are expected to be 41 locations across the country.
It is not the only camp for children dedicated to the subject; Similar programs exist at the University of Pennsylvania and other universities across the country; in Miami; and of course online. Kids’ media have also capitalized on Web3: Zigazoo, a Tiktok-like platform for ages 3-12, is launching NFT collaborations with recognizable YouTube sensations Cocomelon, Blippi, and Serena Williams’ Qai Qai universe. “We’re trying to teach kids about digital and financial literacy and empower them to create their own art and build the future of the web,” says Zigazoo founder Zak Ringelstein. They’re also part of this brave new world: crypto-only virtual piggy banks for kids, youtube books and explainers with titles like “c is for cryptocurrency,” and an nft-based kids’ TV show starring tiny stuffed cacti. /p>
Children’s crypto initiatives are often touted as being at the forefront of educating and preparing future workers for lucrative jobs in technology. Certainly, part of the appeal of these programs for parents is to make up for the vast absence of personal finance education offered in most public schools in the United States. but at the heart of this still relatively new industry is the question of whether cryptocurrency and blockchain are really the future that people should be preparing their children for. there are plenty of valid reasons to believe that web3 in general is based on unstable technology and promises that sound great on paper but don’t work in practice, not to mention the risk of being screwed by an nft project or scammed by a coin creator meme is much higher than investments in traditional financial products. Perhaps, some have argued, what children need is better education about more stable investment methods.
“Actually, I find it a little scary to hear that there’s this industry that socializes very young children about very risky products,” says Joyce Serido, a family social sciences professor at the University of Minnesota who studies financial behaviors within the families. . She is an advocate of teaching kids about money as early as possible, but she worries that cryptocurrencies are still too volatile and unproven for kids to understand. “You can explain that for every person who [hits the jackpot] there are 1,000 who lose everything, but that doesn’t resonate with a 15- or 18-year-old,” she says. “They’re thinking ‘I’m going to be the one to make it’.” Her advice: “Give them $5 to invest in crypto or have them play a stock market simulation game to limit losses.” and when they lose, it will be a very good lesson.”
Serido’s first recommendation for teaching kids about money, though, aligns with crypto kids camp: Start with something tangible, like a physical currency that can help demonstrate that money is a finite resource. . but, she says, “the second lesson, which is probably the most important, is that what you’re really trying to help your kids learn is self-regulation”—basically, they need impulse control. Another crucial aspect is making sure they learn from trusted sources; it’s harder to sift through information that comes from youtube, anonymous message boards, or your peers.
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Teachers say they are noticing that their students are spending more time on platforms like robinhood, where people can buy and trade cryptocurrencies. Although technically only available to adults over the age of 18, some teens use an account a parent has created for them, and many crypto wallets don’t have any age limits. Nate, a teacher in Virginia who asked not to include his last name due to concerns about future employment, says that in the past two years, he has seen his high school students develop a keen interest in cryptocurrencies, stock trading and sports betting. During study hall, he’d glance at his screens, all of them boys, and see the mood swings of Robinhood’s line graph or Fanduel’s home page. She heard a story from a fellow teacher about a ninth grader at another school who placed a bet on a college football game and won $500,000, then had to pretend that his father had actually placed the bet.
Nate says he can usually tell when a kid might be getting into some potentially risky financial habits: “Once they start fanboying Elon Musk, you’ve probably got a kid who’s interested in these things,” he says. He’s also noticing that middle school students are responding to the fervor around NFTs without understanding what they are; during one project in a class on technology that involved AI-generated art, “there were a number of sixth grade boys that were elated to see that you could turn the art into an NFT and sell it,” he says. “They knew it was cool and trendy and their ears perked up.”
makes sense, given the media frenzy for kids like 12-year-old British benyamin ahmed, who made more than $400,000 in two months selling mounds of pixelated whales, or the pair of brothers aged 14 and 9 years. who earn $30,000 per month mining bitcoin. This is the world Gen Z and Gen Alpha have been raised in: a world where entrepreneurs are hailed as heroes, where a magazine called Teen Bo$$ exists, and where making money is a hobby. “I am fascinated by how advanced these young children are with these emerging technologies,” says Serido. But, he adds, “our mission is to help them navigate the world they will inherit, a world we don’t understand and won’t be here to see.”
It’s too early to tell if web3 is the answer. But Najah Roberts and other educators are betting that it will be, and they want kids to be prepared. “We start educating adults,” he says, “and then we begin to realize that our children really need it. stem and steam are missing out big time. everyone wants to talk about coding, which is great, but what then? we want to make sure that our children receive the same education as adults, but at an even faster rate. because they are the future.”
This column was first published in the Merchandise Bulletin. sign up here so you don’t miss the next one, plus get newsletter exclusives.
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