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Children would rather be influencers or YouTubers than heroes like police officers or firefighters, TV psychologist says

'If you are properly confident deep down, it doesn't matter what other people think of you'

Beverley Rouse
Saturday 27 April 2019 22:30 BST
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PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, has made millions from his YouTube channel.
PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, has made millions from his YouTube channel. (Getty Images)

Children are increasingly aspiring to have careers where they think about themselves rather than about other people, according to The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds psychologist Sam Wass.

"It used to be that the popular jobs were the old fashioned jobs, police officer, firefighter. Now they all want to be influencers, YouTubers," he said. "All these jobs are fundamentally inward-looking - 'how do I make my own life interesting to other people?"'

Dr Wass said people can start to worry if they are thinking about "projecting this perfect image", while the reality is quite different.

"Deep down you are not confident in yourself so it becomes much more important to you what other people think of you.

"If you are properly confident deep down, it doesn't matter what other people think of you," said Dr Wass, who appeared on the Channel 4 show which looked at the behaviour and emotions of four, five- and six-year-olds. "The jobs that are getting less popular are 'It's not about me, it's about helping other people'. The idea 'there's nothing interesting about me, it's all about other people'. These types of hero roles where it's about making sacrifices for others are the jobs that are getting less popular.

"These are the type of jobs we will always need. We will always need people who are prepared to make sacrifices for other people."

Speaking at a Lego City Hero Academy event in central London, Wass - who is based at the University of East London - said younger children think of a hero as someone who's infinitely strong and infinitely powerful".

"The older kids realise that nobody is infinitely strong and people work really hard to get stronger, people make sacrifices," he said. "Their heroes might be their parents who have made sacrifices or their friend who has helped them."

He said heroism can be self-sacrifice: "It can be everyday mundane sacrifices that you make for other people."

Research for the campaign found becoming a YouTuber was the top future career choice for eight-to-12-year-olds (20 per cent) while only 4 per cent of the same age group aspired to be a police officer or firefighter.

Almost half (45.8 per cent) of children aged eight-to-12 said making lots of money was a dream job.

Dr Wass said younger children tend to see things as black or white: "Someone's either right or wrong."

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He added: "Older children are more likely to say someone is part good and part bad."

Dr Wass said the world can feel very divided at the moment, especially in regard to Brexit: "It's like a young child's view of the world. They don't see other people's side of things."

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