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Limit Yourself, Not Your Kids—Friday Summary: March 15, 2013

By Rich

Raising children in the age of the Internet is both exhilarating and terrifying.

As a geek I am jealous of the technology my children will grow up with. You can make the argument that technology always advances, and my children will feel the same way about their offspring, but I think the genesis of the Internet is a clear demarcation line in human history.

There is the world before the Internet, and the world after.

The closest equivalents are the rise of agriculture and the Industrial Revolution, and I argue the Internet hit harder and faster. Mix in mobile devices, near-ubiquitous wireless data, and “the cloud”, and the changes are profound. Part of me feels incredibly lucky to have lived through this change, and another part is sad it wasn’t around sooner.

It is an exciting time to raise kids. The resources available to us as parents are truly stunning. We have access to information resources our parents couldn’t conceive of. Want to know how to build a robot? Make the perfect sand castle? Build a solar-powered treehouse? Answer nearly any imaginable question? It’s all right there in your pocket. Anything my children choose to explore, I can not only support, I can get the supplies deliverd with free two-day shipping.

My kids will grow up with drones, robots, 3D printers, and magical books with nearly all of human knowledge inside.

Which isn’t always a good thing.

Once they figure out the way around my filters (or go to a friend’s house), there won’t be any mysteries left to sex. Not that what they’ll find will represent reality, and some of it will warp their perceptions of normality. They will post their innermost thoughts online, without regard to what that may mean decades later. They will see and learn truly horrible things that, before the Internet, were physically isolated. They will witness lies and hatred on a colossal scale (especially if they post anything in a gaming forum).

I accept that all I can do is try my best to prepare them to understand, filter, and think critically on their own.

But I truly believe the benefits outweigh the dangers. Like this author, I will flood my children with technology. They have, today, essentially infinite access to technology. I don’t limit iPad time. I don’t count the television hours. We don’t restrict the laptops. This may change as they grow older, but my gut feeling is that the more you restrict something, the more they want it. And our family’s lifestyle is more centered on physical activity and creating than consuming.

There is, however, one place where I have started restricting technology. Not for my children, but for myself. This week as I sat in the parents’ observation area at our swim school, I noticed every adult head wasn’t focused on their kids, but on the screens in their hands. Go to any playground or Chuck E Cheese and you will see more parental heads staring down than up.

I noticed I do it. And my children notice me.

Children, especially young children, don’t necessarily remember what we try to teach them. They, like nearly every other species, learn by watching us. And they remember absolutely everything we do, especially when it involves them.

I don’t want my kids thinking that the screen in my hand is more important than they are. I don’t want them thinking that these wonderful devices are more important than the people around them (well, I do prefer Siri over most people I meet, but I’m a jerk). I can’t just tell them – I need to show them.

I have started weaning myself off the screen. When I’m with my family, I try to only use it when absolutely necessary, and I verbalize what I’m doing. I am trying to show that it is a tool to use when needed, not a replacement for them. I am not perfect, and there are plenty of times it’s okay to catch up on email in front of my kids – just not when I should be focused on them.

And, to be honest, once I got over the initial panic, it’s nice to just relax and see what’s around me. It doesn’t hurt that my kids are damned cute.

On to the Summary:

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Blog Comment of the Week

This week’s best comment goes to Nate, in response to Incite 3/13/13: Get Shorty.

I certainly make no claims to be a “Big Data” expert, but doesn’t the fact that Splunk is built on a MapReduce architecture make it a big data tool? Heck every relational database rooted SIEM vendor is pitching their wares as “Big Data” because it’s the fuzzy buzzy word of the moment. Splunk to me at least has some semblance of right to the moniker. Now a better question might be should security teams be rolling their own Hadoop deployments and building their own analytic capabilities. Like most any new cool complicated technology if your the biggest of the big and have the resources or are smaller but (by nature of your vertical/company model) rich in technical talent you could probably create some value. For the rest of us Joe Schmoes we need someone to productize the tech and make it usable for us aka Splunk…

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Comments

Good point. I do whip out my phone a lot for pics and video, but I’ve started to try and make it clear it is to focus on them.

By Rich


The one I have been struggling with is the observation of my kids recitals, etc.  Sure I would like to have a recording of my kids at these things, but I end up watching the whole thing on a tiny 2-3 inch screen, so that I can have a recording of it.  Then, most times I never get to go back and watch it on a bigger screen.

Look around and you will see most other parents doing the same thing!

By Ruz


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