How the influencer dream is shaping young people’s goals

The rise of social media has given birth to a new generation of celebrities: influencers. With their engaging content and dedicated followers, these digital stars have turned their passions into lucrative careers. But it’s not just the current crop of influencers who are benefiting from this trend — the influencer dream is shaping young people’s aspirations and career goals.

In this article, we’ll explore the findings of our most recent study, in which we polled over 1,000 people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 30 and 501 U.S. parents of kids under 18. Our results define the influencer dream and show how it may impact the next generation.

Key takeaways



The newest dream job

The influencer dream is capturing the hearts and minds of young people in the U.S. We’ll explore which platforms and content niches they’re most interested in and what motivates them to pursue this career path.

One-third of young people aged 18-30 in the U.S. said they dream of becoming social media influencers. They’ve been most interested in creating content about gaming, lifestyle, and food on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Men were much more likely to want to be influencers on Twitch and X (formerly Twitter) than women.

So, what’s driving this influencer ambition? Here are the top motivations:

  1. Flexibility in work hours
  2. Opportunity for creative expression
  3. Flexibility in work location
  4. Pays better than other jobs
  5. Want to pursue a passion
  6. Travel opportunities
  7. Possibility of receiving free products and services
  8. More autonomy in career
  9. Desire to make a difference
  10. Opportunity for community building
  11. Fame and recognition
  12. Possibility of invitations to exclusive events
  13. Opportunity to collaborate with other creators

On average, people realized they wanted to be influencers by age 20, and 40% said they were actively working toward this goal. They already had around 5,012 followers on their top social media platform — a strong start! But the path to influencer stardom isn’t easy. The biggest challenges aspiring influencers said they face are:

  1. Growing followers
  2. Standing out from other influencers
  3. Creating content
  4. Understanding social media algorithms
  5. Adapting to constantly changing social media trends
  6. Balancing personal life with online presence
  7. Cost of equipment
  8. Finding brand partnerships
  9. Understanding the legal requirements of promoting products
  10. Ensuring authenticity while promoting products

Influencing 101

As the influencer career path gains popularity, aspiring influencers are looking for ways to develop the skills they need to succeed. We explored what educational opportunities they believed would be most beneficial.

A majority of aspiring influencers (78%) believed that taking influencer-specific classes in school would be beneficial. When asked about the most helpful topics to cover, potential influencers suggested social media strategy, personal branding, and short-form video editing as top priorities.

Parents and young people were also fairly aligned on when they thought students should be able to take classes like these. Their responses only varied by a few percentage points, and both groups were most likely to say high school was the ideal time (41% of aspiring influencers and 40% of parents).

Children on social media

Social media presents parents with new challenges when it comes to children’s online presence. We asked parents about their rules, attitudes, and cautions regarding their kids’ social media use.

More than half of parents (58%) said they don’t allow their kids to post on social media, with millennials being the most strict about this. Millennial parents were also more vigilant than Gen X parents about monitoring their children’s followers and posts.

Despite these restrictions, the influencer lifestyle’s allure is capturing many children’s imaginations. A quarter of parents reported seeing their child pretending to be an influencer while playing, and the same number said their child had expressed interest in pursuing this career path. On average, parents said they allow their children to start posting on social media at age 12, marking a key milestone in their digital lives.

Supporting kids’ dreams

As children express interest in becoming influencers, parents are grappling with how to balance support for their aspirations with concerns about the challenges of this career path. We asked parents about their attitudes toward their children pursuing influencer careers.

Some parents (nearly two in five) said becoming an influencer is a good career move, but many wanted their children to approach it with a certain amount of maturity and life experience. Just over a quarter (27%) said they’d support their children becoming influencers, but nearly half (49%) said they’d only be supportive if their children waited until age 18.

Parents also expressed concerns about the challenges of the influencer lifestyle, with loss of privacy topping the list. Parents’ social media posts about their kids are also concerning; sharing personal information and photos of children can lead to exploitation later in life. Proposed legislation in Washington state even aims to address this issue by allowing children to request that this content be removed once they reach a certain age.

Tomorrow’s influencers

The influencer dream is a powerful force shaping the aspirations and goals of young people, but the path to success is not without its challenges, from growing a following to privacy concerns. As the influencer industry evolves, this new career path will surely continue to capture young people’s imaginations. By understanding the motivations, challenges, and opportunities behind influencer aspirations, we can better support and guide the next generation as they pursue their passions in the digital world.


To explore the impact of the influencer phenomenon on young people’s aspirations, we surveyed 1,007 people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 30 about their opinions on becoming an influencer. Among them, 45% were men, 52% were women, and 3% were nonbinary or gender-nonconforming. Additionally, 42% were millennials, and 58% were Gen Z. We also surveyed 501 U.S. parents with children under the age of 18 to gain parents’ perspectives on their children’s ambitions. Of these, 3% were baby boomers, 33% were Gen X, 61% were millennials, and 3% were Gen Z.

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