Kids as Online Entrepreneurs
Living in a digital world allows kids unlimited possibilities in terms of entrepreneurship. This digital age provides kids with a unique skill set with the opportunity to share that skill with others, adding “online business owner” to the list of possible after-school and summer jobs available to kids today.
One area where digitally savvy teens with an entrepreneurial spirit excel is in video game creation. There are a variety of online and offline courses for teens looking to learn about game creation, programming, and game development as well as summer camps for those looking for a concentrated curriculum to learn the skills needed to create video games.
These camps and courses allow teens to interact with professionals in the field and develop skills that can immediately be put to use in game creation. Examples of such camps include
If you would like to support your child or teen in exploring video game creation, you may want to download or purchase video game creation software. The following free tools are available for those interested in learning more about game development:
Game Maker 8: This free development software allows users to create games with the help of tutorials and a drag-and-drop interface. Users with more experience and understanding of programming language are able to create more customization within their games.
Phrogram: Phrogram is free development software best suited for folks with some computer programming experience who like to turn those skills into game development knowledge. Phrogram also introduces computer programming newbies to the world of game creation. Phrogram isn’t entirely free but does offer a 30-day free trial option.
Sploder: This is a website allowing game creation beginners to make their own game for free. This service allows users to save games and share them with other users on Sploder. Users can also share the games they’ve created on their own website so that anyone can play the games.
RPG Maker XP: This software focuses on role-playing games (RPGs). After a user has created a game with RPG Maker XP, he can share that game with any Windows PC user. Members of a highly active user community share fan sites they have created along with game creation tutorials.
Pygame: This free online tool uses a specific game creation language — Python — which is one of the easier computer programming languages to learn.
Computer animation and graphic design
Like video game creation, the fields of computer animation and graphic design are areas where technologically savvy teens can explore career options from the comfort of their home computer. In fact, according to Fast Company, one teenage girl became a young millionaire after creating a MySpace customization service and launching her business online.
Like game creation, many programs and camps exist to support kids interested in learning more about computer animation and graphic design. Here are just a few resources available:
Just as kids can create their own blogs with just a little help from a parent, they can also create easy-to-navigate websites to showcase their skills and run an online business. A variety of sites exist for teens hoping to sell a product or service online who do want to create their own website:
Bizinate (formerly, Kidworth) helps young entrepreneurs start their own businesses, guiding them through everything from the financial aspects of owning a business to the logistics of setting up an online storefront.
The site claims that through their site, an ambitious teen can launch a business in three minutes with no knowledge of coding, need to own a credit card, or filing of legal paperwork. With tens of thousands of users already, the Bizinate goal is to empower a new generation of entrepreneurs, starting with digitally savvy teens.
Parents of Bizinate users can create a master account for their kids, which they can run on their own, delegating aspects of the business to their child. Teens can create and manage their accounts on Bizinate.
Etsy is an online marketplace where users can create virtual storefronts in order to sell the crafts and items they have created. Etsy account holders must be at least 18 years of age. However, Etsy is a great way for parents to facilitate their child’s budding business skills and creativity by working with them to create a family online store.
Like Etsy, eBay also requires sellers to be at least 18 years old. However, this online auction site allows families to support children in selling gently used items in what amounts to a digital yard sale, giving kids the opportunity to use technology to earn money and gain basic marketing skills.