We always knew we could expect more from today’s youth than just being the target of ads and the subject of generational think pieces—that there must be some higher purpose for the Instagramming, Snapchatting, Tiktoking smallish humans who live among us. And now, Twitter is recognizing what one of those many purposes might be. Eric Wall, the cryptocurrency lead at Cinnober, an exchange acquired by Nasdaq earlier this year, poses the theory: What if kids are the ticket to cryptocurrency’s widespread adoption?
Wall’s thread makes a lot of excellent points: Kids actually understand social media, unlike olds; Online marketing is as natural as breathing; they can engage with content organically from the crib! They’re fast learners, and highly incentivized to learn about money—especially because most don’t have any. (Is there any way to talk about this that doesn’t make us sound like Amy Adams studying extraterrestrials in Arrvial? Probably not.)
Kids are already enmeshed with many of the organic onramps to cryptocurrency. They already clamor for Fortnite V-bucks for Christmas. Video games, and the virtual worlds they contain, are ripe for crypto integration. Teens already use money-sharing apps, and the addition of cryptocurrency wallets to general-use apps appears imminent.
The idea of kids learning about cryptocurrency isn’t new. Just look at the plethora of picture books explaining bitcoin to small children. Blockchains, the company that bought more than 67,000 acres in Sparks, Nevada, selected a futuristic desert tween to be the face of their ambitious plan to create a smart city powered by blockchain technology. And the industry has plenty of thought leaders (ahem: Vitalik) who are practically GenZers themselves.
There’s a dark side, too, of course. As Wall points out, extortion, trolling, and other illegal activities will affect kids, just as they will affect adults.
For better or worse, it seems natural that kids will embrace crypto as they might any other emerging tech. And if we can figure out how to get them to look up from their phones for long enough to answer our questions, perhaps the rest of us can come along for the ride, too.