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Do Children Still Dream of Becoming Astronauts When They Grow up?

During the Space Race and for many years after, children all over the United States and the United Kingdom dreamed of one day donning astronaut gear and soaring toward the stars. Today, children still have lofty dreams, only it's cyberspace they long for, and the stars they envision are themselves. A 2019 poll of 3,000 children revealed that becoming a YouTube celebrity, or "vlogger," was the future career choice of 30 percent of the kids. Only 11 percent said they wanted to join legendary space travelers like Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride. The 8- to 12-year-old children, all from America, the United Kingdom, and China, were given only three other job options: teacher, which garnered 26 percent of the vote; pro athlete, which was chosen by 23 percent of the kids; and musician, which came in fourth with 19 percent of the vote. Interestingly, while vlogger came in first and astronaut finished last overall, the Chinese children ranked the two professions in opposite positions from their British and American peers, with astronaut the preferred career of a whopping 56 percent of Chinese respondents, and YouTuber gaining only 16 percent of the vote.

Astronaut or YouTuber?

  • Among adults, though, astronaut aspirations are still going strong. NASA received more than 18,000 astronaut applications in 2017, far surpassing the previous record of 8,000, set in 1978.
  • YouTube boasts more than 2 billion users watching a billion hours of video every day.
  • Astronauts are paid between $63,600 and $98,317 USD a year; the top YouTuber is 8-year-old Ryan Kaji of the Ryan's World YouTube channel, who earned an estimated $26 million USD in 2019.
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