Gemma Styles: We Could All Learn Something From These 9-Year-Old Pre-Internet Heroes

But what will happen when these tiny little game changers to hit the internet and soak up all the cynicism?Photo by Matilda Hill-Jenkins

Gemma Styles: Hero Kids Of The Internet

by Gemma Styles |
Published on

There’s nothing that garners hits on a share button like an adorable child doing something wonderful. From Hilde Kate Lysiak, the nine-year-old journalist who broke a local murder story before anyone else, to nine-year-old Caine Monroy, the little boy who ‘went viral’ a few years ago when he built a cardboard arcade in his dad’s garage, everyone loves to hear about children doing amazing things, unpolluted by the cynicism and self-doubt that usually strikes us in our teens and onwards.

The latest of the internet’s favourite kids is Khloe Thompson. Nine-years old (of course – is this the magical age?) from Southern California, Khloe has already founded her own charity, Khloe Kares, in order to support homeless women in her community. Khloe, with the help of her grandma, hand makes her own cloth bags and then fills them with essentials such as feminine hygiene and sanitary products, soap and toothpaste and then hands them out to homeless women around where she lives.

Khloe explains, in a video shared by PopSugar Celebrity’s Facebook page, that she wants to make other people aware of the importance of respect and understanding towards the people around us. 'Don’t be afraid of them, they’re just a normal person like you.'

One of the great joys of being online is that we get to hear stories like this from around the world, from communities we would never otherwise be connected to, inspiring other people to learn lessons and make changes in their own lives. Nine seems to be the most special of ages for these kids – if you’ve got a nine-year-old in your life this might be a great time to put some extra focus on things they want to do.

But I can’t help but think about the lack of the internet in these children’s stories. When we hear about them and they touch millions of people, they become almost property of or entwined with the online community that picks them up, but beforehand these things are happening organically, without that input. Nine-year-olds aren’t generally on social media (although my job history in charities proves this isn’t always the case… there are also plenty of primary school age kids on Instagram) but they’re doing these great things anyway, not because people are watching them but because they believe in things and are trying to change the small corner of the world in which they live.

I wonder if introducing the online world to children earlier is going to affect this, and how. Computing skills are now being taught on primary school curriculums, coding is being encouraged to younger and younger kids – this is good and, I think, necessary to make them as computer literate as possible in a world that will require it, but is exposing them to the big bad world likely to knock out any of these earnest, heart warming projects they would have started when they weren’t busy discovering Miniclip and Minecraft? There’s something lovely and tactile about the stories I mentioned above: local newsletters, hand-sewn bags and a cardboard arcade. If kids start tweeting about their dreams instead will they still feel the need to make these things in real life?

As kids are going to be online more and earlier, I think it’s more important than ever to make sure it’s a nice place. Nobody wants these tiny little game changers to hit the internet and soak up all the cynicism, bullying, snarky comments and judgment. They’ll get the news, creativity and some inspiration – but ideally the rest of the crap won’t manage to drown it out. Please don’t be a source of dream-squashing online crap. Delight in clicking the share button and then carry on making your patch of internet one that doesn’t suck.

**Like this? Then you might also be interested in: **

Gemma Styles: The Rise Of The Instagram Vegans

3 Heroric Friends Saved A Woman From Date Rape

Gemma Styles: Are We Socially Shaming Ourselves Into Self Improvement

Follow Gemma on Twitter @GemmaAnneStyles

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us