This past weekend, I attended the 2013 Digital Family Summit in Baltimore, Maryland. It was a three-day conference that celebrated digital content creation and storytelling by tweens, teens and adults. Keynotes and panels covered topics ranging from how to grow the reach of your blog to the importance of parents modeling healthy digital diets for their children. There were also workshops on videogame design, WordPress, video creation and photography. But more exciting than the packed conference agenda was seeing the level of engagement from families and speakers in attendance.
Many of the issues we tackle at A Platform for Good involve empowering parents, teachers and teens to use their devices in safe, responsible ways – all while highlighting the good things people are doing with technology. But it’s not every day that we get to see these things firsthand. That’s why attending the Digital Family Summit was such a great opportunity. With children anxiously running back and forth from workshops, parents in tow, it was a great example of just how eager families are to learn more about navigating the digital landscape.
While I was only able to attend the Saturday session, one of the highlights was seeing 12-year-old Simon Cadel, a kid-comedian and soon-to-be YouTube sensation, perform his Ukulele song, “Batman vs. Superman.” Accompanying Simon on the “Kid Fame” panel was Amy Mascott, Nakia Kelly, Stephanie Humphrey, and Simon’s mother, Betsy Cadel.
With Simon being too young to manage his own social media accounts, he’s teamed up with his mom to post his work online. And when asked about negative comments on his videos, even though he hasn’t really received any yet, Simon said he doesn’t plan on letting them control his online presence - a resilience that was present in many of the teen speakers. In fact, Simon couldn’t be more excited about growing his online community. Stephanie Humphrey pointed out though that in the event a child does encounter negative feedback online, that it’s important for parents to step up as stewards of their child’s online presence.
The two other panels I attended were “Blogging for the Bigger Picture" and “Unplug! Parents Modeling Healthy Digital Behavior." Both panels, among many things, touched on growing a positive online community and setting a good example with how you use your devices. In conversation about teaching kids responsible use of technology, panelist Jason Finkelstein of Location Labs and Safely, acknowledged that both parents and kids, at one time or another, make mistakes. The important thing is reinforcing healthy digital practices from an early age. That's certainly a message we can get on board with at A Platform for Good!
To read more about the Digital Family Summit, check out their collection of blog posts written about the event.
Cover image courtesy of Leticia Barr.