Save to Pocket
Parents at Work

Survey: YouTube now among biggest influences on what kids want to be when they grow up

The YouTube videos your children watch can exert more of an influence on their career ambitions than their own parents, a new Fatherly and New York Life survey of more than 1,000 children under the age of 12 found.

Survey: Media kids watch top influence for kids’ career choices

Television, movies, and online video streaming sites like YouTube were U.S. children’s top listed influencer on their career choices, beating out personal passions, parents, school, and books as influencers. Experiences, sports, and video games were the influences with the least power on shaping what a child wanted to be when they grew up.


Looking for an inspiring way to start your day? Sign up for Morning Motivation!

It’s our friendly Facebook 🤖  that will send you a quick note every weekday morning to help you start strong. Sign up here by clicking Get Started!


That’s right, the videos your child watches online can leave a more of a lasting impact on their future career than a parent’s words or a school curriculum.

The finding underscores the importance of children’s video entertainment to a child’s dreams. It’s a reminder for guardians to be vigilant about what content their child consumes, especially following reports that online sites like YouTube have had a checkered history of regulating content for children.

The darker side of YouTube’s potential influence on children was seen after a November New York Times investigation found that YouTube failed to properly filter out disturbing content seen by children. Following the Times report, YouTube announced that it was implementing a new policy to age-restrict content.

Girls choose STEM careers, boys pick civil service

The top five professions children wanted to pursue were similar to what the survey found in previous years: doctor, veterinarian, engineer, police officer, and teacher. Girls were found to be more more likely to pick science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers like doctor than boys whose choices leaned toward civil service careers like police officer and firefighter.

Eighty percent of the children who reported wanting to be doctors were girls, while 87% of the children wanting to be firefighters were boys.

Of course, some of the young respondents put forth imaginative responses beyond the usual career path, such as one 6-year-old girl stating that her career ambition was to be a “Dragon Keeper.

The fall of ‘athletes’ — the rise of ‘police’

The biggest change in the rankings since the last report on the topic in 2015 is the fall of “athlete” as a choice; it was No. 1, now it’s No. 8.

“For boys, athlete still ranks as the third most popular dream job, but it doesn’t even crack the top ten for girls,” Fatherly writes. “The star power of athletes doesn’t seem as overwhelming as it did a few years back. Whether or not that’s a product of timing — it’s been two years since the last Olympics — the politicization of some sports figures, or harder to track cultural trends is unclear.”

Meanwhile, “police” shot up as a choice to No. 3, having been No. 10 previously.

The bottom line

Children get encouraged and excited by what they see around them. When media consumption is the top influence on a child’s stated career ambition, it’s a reminder for parents and caretakers to monitor what children watch closely to make sure these outside influences are appropriate for a child to see.

More from Ladders

More from Ladders