Learning Benefits of Fandoms: Why Kids Should Be Fans

Does your family follow a sports team? Is there a TV show that you can’t wait for a new episode to air? What movies inject themselves into your every day lives? Is there a musician or actor your child has posters of plastered all over their wall? What fandom do you belong to? Do you know the learning benefits of fandoms?

Number One Fan: Learning Benefits of Fandoms
#1 Fan Foam Finger by photographer ideyweb on BigStockPhoto.com

A fan is someone who is an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, show, celebrity, etc. and who is extremely passionate about it. Fandoms are the communities that spring up around that common devotion. Often those communities have special names to connect them together as a group – like Dr. Who fans are known as Whovians, Taylor Swift fans are Swifties, and Harry Potter fans are Potterheads. 

Can being a raving fan of something be a learning experience for your kids? Absolutely! Of course, it will depend a little on which fandom they are part of, but here are some of the ways that joining a fan community can actually be a great thing.

Community & Communication

One of the most important learning benefits of fandoms are the communities it creates. It is almost guaranteed that if you are a huge fan of something, you will find someone else somewhere in the world who is just as much a fan. Having something in common with other people to talk about creates plenty of opportunities for communication. It’s a great ice breaker for conversation.

Everything from sports to celebrities to tv shows can offer debates and discussions, both in person and online. These can help kids learn how to share their opinions without having to bash or tear others down. It’s a great way to develop skills in persuasion and argument if done properly.

  • There are also different times where entire groups of fans can get together and celebrate. These are all opportunities to show your pride in your chosen fandom, meet players and actors, and to connect with other fans. Plus, you can usually buy merchandise to add to your collection.
    • For sports, it’s usually the playoffs – a time where teams compete for who is the best.
    • For celebrities, it’s probably when they throw a concert or release a new movie.
    • For bookworms and TV shows, it’s likely a comic or fan convention.

If you are a family who loves something together, it gives you some common ground to spend time together. Going to a game or watching them each week, standing in line for the newest movie,  reading the books aloud, talking about what you think will happen in future episodes – being a fan doesn’t just connect you with the outside community,  it helps you create one in your own home too.

Creativity

Many fandoms are full of creativity and art.

  • Many fandoms are rife with amazing artwork. If your child is an artist, they can use their skills to create art of their favourite person or moment or a fictitious version of things. Fans love artwork. [Tumblr and DeviantArt are great forms for this – but, as with everything, you will probably need to monitor these as there is a lot of not safe stuff for kids.] In fact, fans are often willing to pay for artwork in their chosen fandom. This could become a side job for anyone with terrific artistry skills – being commissioned to draw for others.
  • There are lots of ways to include reading and writing into the fandom world.
    • Sports are widely covered online and in newspapers, meaning that you can read about your favourite team or athlete whenever you would like to.
    • There are several websites devoted exclusively to fanfiction based on tv shows, celebrities, video games, etc where people have written their own story based on the characters or worlds created. [FanFiction.net, ArchiveOfOurOwn, and WattPad are popular ones.] (As a parent, you need to know that fanfiction isn’t necessarily safe, particularly for children – there are a lot of inappropriate things out there, especially about romantic pairings – so make sure that you use heavy filters and pre-read any stories your child might like if you want to allow this. There are some amazing stories out there – many are even longer than a physical novel!)
    • Even if you decide not to let them read fanfiction, there’s nothing to stop your child from writing their own! Writing fanfiction is a great way to develop writing skills. The world and the characters are already well established, meaning you can just jump right in and start a story without having to create the hard details. If they share with others, they can get some feedback (warning: probably both positive and negative) which can help them become better authors. Did you know many published authors have written fanfiction either first or as a personal challenge to enhance their writing skills?
    • Your child can write a letter to their favourite athlete, author, musician, celebrity.
  • Coplay is huge in the fandom world. Let’s face it – even sports enthusiasts like to dress up to show their favourite team. Costume design and creation can be fun and creative activity for a fan. If they make their own designs, this requires a lot of skills: math, design, sewing, and being able to convert a 2D design into a 3D costume.
  • Musicians may be inspired to figure out how to play theme songs (or the background music) of their favourite shows or learn to play the songs of their favourite artists. They might decide to compose a whole new song.

Critical Thinking & Caring

Fandoms also allow for so much critical thinking and logical reasoning.

  • For example, the process of figuring out why things are the way they are creates fan theories which are often wildly imaginative and strangely plausible. Being able to analyze theories is a good skill to have. Is that person’s idea valid or illogical?
  • Using the internet to find content about your favourite fandom is a skill of its own, but learning to evaluate what you find is even more important. For example, say there are discussions about a “true” spoiler for the show you watch. Is the spoiler you found actually true? How can you find out for sure? This helps with media literacy and being able to filter out fake news from valid and legitimate sources.
  • If they are passionate about a sport or athlete, being able to follow stats and scores helps enthusiasts figure out how their favourites are doing in the standings and to think about how they could be better. For sports teams, entire fantasy games have been created to allow fans to create their own teams and creatively figure out how their team would do through the year. (Hello bonus of math!)

Stories wound around characters offer us insight into the thoughts and experiences of others, allowing us to develop empathy. We might not have personal experience with something, but living it through the eyes of our favourite characters helps us to understand what it feels like.

Even sports fans can develop empathy – understanding the feeling of loss when their team is knocked out makes them relate to fans of other teams, even if they are rivals. Losing feels horrible.

Although there are fandoms in just about everything in life, some are revered more than others (and some are considered many geeky still). We’re seeing that change a bit in popular culture, which is great! The important thing to remember is that as long as it’s safe and you are enjoying it – being a fan is a great activity to have. There are just so many learning benefits of fandoms.

So, what are your kids fans of?


This post is part of a 10 day series all about learning through every experience.  Join me as we look at different ways kids learn outside of a textbook and workbook – just by experiencing life.

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