Want To Prepare Kids For the Gig Economy? Get Rid of Their Best Friend

Working at officeSilicon Valley and the tech world writ large have fully embraced the “gig economy” of the future, throwing their full weight behind companies like Uber. Already, parents are wondering how best to prepare their kids for this brave new world.

This September, CIO.com reports that Millennials are enthusiastically embracing this change. The website cites a 2014 study that found 53 million U.S. workers freelance to some degree, with workers under 35 forming the biggest slice of the freelancing demographic. According to the study, 38% of Millennials are freelancing.

“Millennials are adopting [freelancing] at a faster rate than what we’ve seen from previous generations,” said John Reed with Robert Half Technology. “Millennials are actually saying, ‘I’m going to make this transition. I want that lifestyle.'”

But perhaps Reed is editorializing those numbers. Nowhere in the CIO article does it consider how many Millennials took up freelancing during the Great Recession, not out of desire, but necessity.

On FastCompany.com, writer Reva Seth also treats the gig-based economy of the future as a given. In a new column, Seth explores how best to prepare her young children to “thrive in the new economy.”

To freelance successfully, adults need to know how to maintain and grow professional networks, and Seth suggests we start cultivating that skill at a young age. Step one: get your kids to ditch the idea of having a “best friend.”

“It’s an idea that’s now picking up traction,” Seth writes. “For instance, educators at a private day school in the U.K. bluntly told parents that best friends weren’t good for their children since it cultivates possessiveness and leads to upsetting breakups.”

Seth recommends encouraging kids to participate in team and social groups, as well as using books, movies, and TV shows to teach kids about different types of relationships. Getting kids to read more might be just as hard as pulling them away from their best friends. On average, children ages two to seven read for 45 minutes a day back in 1999 but read just 30 minutes a day in 2013.

But this type of socialization, Seth argues, will make children better freelancers as adults as it teaches them early on to improve their networking skills. That, in turn, will help them develop the skills necessary for part-time contract work.

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