Our current culture is stuck on the underlying fear of the dangers surrounding our kids online. While there may be dangers, they are greatly outnumbered by the potential wonders and great experiences that are possible now because of the web and technology in general. To take a knee jerk reaction and prohibit or limit use of the web is not only a pedantic reaction, but potentially a detrimental one for your kid’s development.
The future (and the present) is wired and will continue to be. Parents need to step up and become educated in the net and what their kids are doing online – both good and bad. But how? And by whom? We can’t rely on them to just do it on their own over night. Even if they have the desire, they may not have the resources or be too overwhelmed to even know where to begin.
There is a sea change coming soon on how people view the net. Gen X’rs and beyond have more knowledge and have less fear of the net and will pass this thinking onto their kids (whom they are already having). In the interim time though, until the change is here, we, as community professionals, have to prepare to help out.
We talked about this one of the sessions at the Online Community Unconference last week (can you tell I liked that visit? I can’t stop talking about the epiphanies I had there).
It’s great that the big guns in the kids web space (Disney, Nick, Habbo, etc) are doing community and are committed to continuing to do so. Maybe we can start the movement (yes, I think we can assume it could qualify as a movement) by leveraging the bigger communities who have the trusted brand and wider reach. What about having PSA’s on their sites about why the Internet isn’t all bad for kids and what parents need to know – both bad AND good. Maybe pre-roll the same PSA’s in movie theatres before family-centric movies.
Another smaller, but equally important tactic could be to make sure your OCM’s and other staff members who are on the front lines are aware, ready and watching for the signs of change in their communities.
I know I am going to continue blogging and talking about the issue wherever I can. Like I said last week, I don’t need to be the talking head on this subject, but I definitely want to help write the script.
I was just talking to Bill Johnston over at Forum One about some of these bigger topics in the Online Community world and he mentioned that it would be cool to round table or podcast about some of these more nebulous topics. I think that’s a great idea. There are enough of us who have been in the online community space for long enough to move to the next step and start thinking about the future of our industry.
Let me know if you want in on these sorts of conversations too and I will be sure to bring you into them. It may sound cheesy – but the future starts now, let’s start working on it.
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