Digital Family Summit

Digital-family-summit-logoI met with Jennie Baird this past week who is involved in putting on the Digital Family Summit in Philadelphia this summer.  She wanted to know if I would be interested in keynoting the event.  Unfortunately I won't be around at the end of June but was delighted to be asked.  Needless to say we spent a lot of time talking about raising kids in a digital age and here is what we taliked about. 

I would hate to think that social media and the Internet scare parents.  I guess that if parents were freaked out about their childs activity online then they are either not having open conversations about living in an online world or they have decided that it is easier to just ignore it. 

There is no doubt we are moving at a rapid pace in the world of technology but it is up to us as parents to stay on top of what is going on.  Don't become your parents like past generations who dismissed rock and roll, kids media usage is not the end of the world it is the beginning of opening up their minds.

Teaching your kid to live on line is no different than teaching your kid to have good table manners….just different content.  So what are the rules?  Be as smart as they are.  Know what is the latest and greatest.  Download apps, play on Pinterest, have a Facebook account and if you are talking to your kids about this stuff they will probably allow you to be friends with them on Facebook as long as you don't comment on their wall. Certainly when they are younger you should pay attention to what they are looking at but the conversations need to start when they are 7 not 13.

Be a parent not a friend.  A few things to be taught and that begins with being a role model and having honest conversations and that can be applied to anything.  Nothing dies on the Internet.  Once you put it out there, it is out there for ever.  Be smart about what you post.  People forward things on the Internet without you even knowing.  Send your friend a secret online, everyone in school will know the secret tomorrow.  Don't fight with your friends over text, sometimes things are taken out of context and you have no idea how a person is saying something. If you have an issue, take it offline.  Don't break up with your girlfriend or boyfriend online.  If someone pings you that you don't recognize, ask them straight away who are you.  Don't talk with people you don't know.  This all makes common sense.  Younger kids need different rules around useage and that sets up the platform for when they become older kids. 

Each generation has a different set of challenges.  Parents these days have a very different relationship with their kids than generations past.  Keep the channels of conversation open and talk about stuff that you see online, spend time discovering all the wonderful sites on the web and talk to your kids about what they are discovering too. 

Most important, everyone should take time out to put techhnology aside and sit down to dinner and talk.  If you do that then most everything else seems to fall in line. 

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Comments (Archived):

  1. daryn

    I think family tech is going to be a big focus for a lot of startups in the next few years: 1. Society’s interaction with media has developed massively over the past few years (Facebook being the most obvious sign), 2. The technology keeps getting better (it is amazing watching my toddler play with an iPad – the computers, and even tv, when I was 2 were things kept out of my reach) and 3. All us techies are having kids!I’m sure you’re aware, but 500 startups is also holding a family tech conference later this year. Don’t have the details in front of me, but it’s called Mama Bear.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I did not know that. Mama Bear….interesting but couldn’t they call is Mama and Papa Bear?

      1. daryn

        I’ll forward that along! 🙂

        1. Christine Tsai

          That did come to mind, but “Mama and Papa Bear” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like “MamaBear” 🙂

          1. Gotham Gal

            Christine…after all the conversations about not enough women in tech or all the women that feel as if they are not treated equally to come up with the name mama bear is just not that cool. personally, it totally turns me off

          2. Dave McClure

            hey Joanne. i understand your perspective that the entire family (dads & moms & uncles & aunts & step-uncles twice removed) is involved in raising kids, however we don’t think that “mama bear” is uncool or non-inclusive… our speakers are both men & women, moms & dads. but from a marketing perspective, it’s clear that moms do drive a lot of the decision-making in the household, and i think it would be disingenuous not to recognize that leadership in families often comes from the maternal side. in any case, you’re certainly entitled to your perspective and we hope you’ll still consider the material & topics we present to be relevant.diff strokes for diff folks…

          3. Gotham Gal

            I have sure that your conference will be inclusive. There is no doubt that you have proven that with the 500 Startups model and I certainly applaud that. I just wish that the name of the conference defined family vs motherhood.

  2. Ryan Drew

    “Most important, everyone should take time out to put techhnology aside and sit down to dinner and talk.  If you do that then most everything else seems to fall in line.” Exactly. The time to circumvent many family issues. On the flip side, I’ve seen parents wonder why they struggle with getting their kids to sit down and eat, when they never do. As they never partake, they’ve equated eating to (essentially) a timeout (punishment).

    1. Gotham Gal

      do what i say not what i do. doesn’t work that way.

  3. Rohan

    Agree 100%I just had a nice conversation over lunch with an older friend who expressed his unhappiness at seeing people at dinners with friends and families stuck with social media. He felt it brought more harm than good and takes away meaning from the lives of the next generation..He felt there was a danger that there’ll be more broken relationships thanks to all of this.My view was slightly different.Social media and the age of the internet is the new wheel. It’s equivalent to the wheel being in the first 3 months of birth. Parents i.e. users are just beginning to get the hang of how to manage this new responsibility. In the first few years of the blackberry, everyone had one at the dinner table. Now, we’ve figured out the need for boundaries. It will be the same with facebook, twitter and all the good stuff. Once people figure out how to use it, we’ll soon have ‘norms’ around it (eg: never breaking up online!)..It’s only a matter of time. But we’ve got to figure out these things and figure out how to manage them.It’s not better or worse. Just different.Whew. Comment novel.

    1. Gotham Gal

      we were traveling and happened to notice that the family next to us were all on their separate devices. we were all aghast. rules must be set. i have seen groups of kids eating together and everyone is on their phones. not good.if these kids don’t learn to communicate face to face that is not a good thing for their future. you just aren’t going to negotiate your salary with your boss or talk to your clients through email or text. at least i hope not.

      1. Rohan

        I don’t think that’s going to change. My view is that relationships, life etc are based on principles that have never changed through the course of time and never will – love, caring, hard work etc etc.I just think norms will soon develop around these things.A cool phone on a dinner table might have been greeted with a wow 5 years ago.. but will be frowned upon 5 years from now. It’s up to us to set the boundaries. Spiderman comes to mind again.. 😉

  4. Dave McClure

    understood. appreciate the feedback, and guarantee we will make sure to bring dads & other male family members to the table. (as a dad myself, maybe i’ll show up in a Papa Bear suit 🙂

    1. Gotham Gal

      i’d like to see a picture of that.

      1. Dave McClure

        well, this isn’t a bear… but here’s a picture of some of the Angry McClure Birds & Pigs 🙂

  5. ellen

    Already pulling nails to get a telephone call from a 41 year old child.  Can’t wait until THEIR  kids grow up. If I hear “embrace facebook,” rather than a telephone call occasionally  to hear the news one more time from a rather pretentious daughter in law, I will scream.

    1. Gotham Gal

      wow. that is truly unfortunate. i’d recommend sending the kids emails and skyping with them to go around that issue.

      1. ellen

        Emails seem too time consuming also for them.  If Dad takes the time to email it is nice to get a response that the email was read or acknowledged.Skyping is nice but that takes even longer than a telephone call or an email. That would mean they would have to sit in one place for a length of time.As a stepmother of 33 years today I try to let it roll off my back but it is so very  hurtful  and rude.As you know Joanne, your parents aren’t going to always be around.