When hot shots call the shots

As a teenager in the late '70s, I cut Mrs. Irwin's hedges for a couple of bucks an hour. Some teenagers today are cutting overhead. And thinking about hedge funds.

In what's been called the age of "Me, Inc.," everybody's a self-propelled company of one. Teens, it seems, are now in the vanguard.

Those advantaged enough to have Web access and parents willing to invest in them have the potential to pull away from the pack.

Why not. Teens now get a chance to leverage the fact that they move fluidly in a world that's foreign to many adults. And the results are often constructive.

Hey, you come of age with technology, you feel a little proprietary about it. So what if the Internet was developed by the military-industrial complex decades back?

Teen entrepreneurship may even offer a prototype for other types of business in an increasingly non-hierarchical world.

But there may be some cultural "blowback." A class of tech-enriched teens could add another layer to an already-stratified teen society - marketplace masters vs. kids whose ventures flop in a rivalry akin to jocks-vs.-scholars.

And what might the rise of this cyber-elite mean for, say, a work force trying to absorb rookies who've skipped the old practice of doing menial labor for peanuts?

An information economy may not need many entry-level cogs. But somebody still has to sort the snail mail. And cut the hedges.

Will those tasks fall to slow starters - you know, kids who can't find time after school, soccer, and trombone to craft a business plan? For a look at the leading edge, check out the story at right.

* Reach us at work@csps.com

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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