You’ve probable seen these two videos before since they got posted everywhere recently:

Nice videos of kids imitating their parents successfully. And hopefully an insurance for my retirement contesting. Because I don’t plan to retire AS a contester. But the age of these kids got me wondering. For years the UBA and other societies abroad have been trying to increase the number of members by trying to get more people into the hobby. A noble goal but it doesn’t seem to work. At least it doesn’t show in the numbers. There is no huge influx of new operators. There was a short lived burst when the Foundation License (ON3) got introduced but that effect soon faded. I have the impression that these recruitment campaigns are centered around youngsters between 13 and 18 year old. It is my opinion that this is wrong. I’ll tell you why.

Kids under 10 years like to imitate their parents. I guess the videos above show this. However, if a Belgian kid wanted to imitate his father, he’d be stuck to CB or PMR since the minimum age for a foundation license is 13. These two technologies probably send shivers down the parental ham’s spine. A full HAREC license is aimed too high for a kid, but a clever 10 year old who mastered basic mathematics and is motivated to hijack mom/dad’s shack and climb the tower, should manage to pass the exam. I don’t think many kids under 13 in Belgium are ready to follow dad’s footsteps on HF. But if they were, they’d have to wait. By then their interest probably expired.

Next category are the adolescents, say 13-18. This is exactly the age where imitating dad’s uncoolness is strictly prohibited. You’re supposed to like exactly the opposite of what your parents like. The occasional exception aside, of course. And the exception of kids who got bitten by the virus before this crucial age, as seen in the videos above. If someone would have told me about amateur radio and contesting in my teens, I’d have called them old-fashioned retards. I wouldn’t have showed interest.  I was 24 when I got my first license. Kids today are clicking away on the internet. If you can’t play, tag or put it in a group on Facebook, it’s not interesting. If you can’t download it illegally, what’s the use? And don’t get me started about online gaming. Nothing against it, really. Some say this resembles to contesting, but actually shooting people and other monsters isn’t as much fun than being called by a ZL or a PY on 80m sunrise! And buying copying a new game isn’t as rewarding as building your own antenna. Not nearly. Trust me. And oh yeah, the video on the right clearly shows where to put your smart phone!

I’ve been involved with this 13-18 year old demographic slice for a couple of years and it is my opinion that they’re not interested. And I don’t feel the chosen one to try to get them interested. Trust me; you’d put in a lot of energy to address a huge crowd but you’d only get a poor return rate. One is better than none, some might argue. Well, go ahead. I take a rain check for this one. Maybe there is an ‘unserved audience’ on the other end of the life cycle. Fight a midlife crisis by putting up a big tower in stead of buying a Harley. But actually my most interesting thought after seeing the CW video was: maybe kids love learning and using CW? Now that’s an idea to exploit!

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