I am writing this article as a parent for other parents. I am a father of three: 12-year-old girl, and 7 and 3-year-old boys. I am also a marketer and a product designer. My work allows me to see the society in a different way and motivates me to make unique life choices.
I see the society as an exchange of content. Content influences our choices daily. No matter how much we think we are independent from it, eventually we realize we are not. All that content does not just appear by itself, it is designed and created by someone. That someone has their own motivations and abilities. Some of the content is useful and valuable, some of it is not.
Today children consume drastically more content than any generation before. Tablets and smartphones make content much more accessible to them. Touch screens allow them to access content by skipping the complexities of a keyboard, a mouse, and a game controller. Instagram, YouTube, and other social media are substantially more used by children than any other media, including books and films. And I do not consider any of this “bad”. My definition of “bad” is different.
Digital tools and content changed the world in two ways. They allowed content consumers to have much more content to choose from, and content creators to create more and have a bigger audience. What I think is “bad” for children is if they only consume and do not create.
Best way to understand the content and its power is to create it. Perception of a content consumer is extremely limited. Children should be encouraged to use digital tools to create digital content. By creating they will be empowered and creative, by consuming they are only passive. Also creating content with digital tools is challenging and this is great for them.
Here are practical tips on how to engage children in creating content:
– Make digital designs together with them using image editing software.
– Give them a digital camera and discuss their photos with them.
– Give them a notebook and a printer.
– Let them write a story in a word processor.
– Let them list something in a spreadsheet.
– Teach them basic HTML or FTP – much easier than it sounds.
– Buy them a domain name of their choice and set up a website.
As a parent you could learn these skills as well. Your child will learn them faster if they see you practicing them.
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