We don't think we spend enough time with our kids, we think we let them play too many video games, we don't think we've managed to force them to eat enough veggies. The list of our parental guilts is long and ever-refreshing.
My time covering the Mozilla Kids and Tech Hack Jam this weekend in Toronto did nothing to reduce those layers of guilt for me as I watched dozens of kids hack toys to see how they work, make movies with animation programs and contribute to building a video game world. The goal of the day was to get kids excited about not remaining passive consumers of the web, and to become active contributors to and builders of the digital world.
Walking around the event I saw kids doing lots of things I have never thought to encourage my nine-year-old boy to do. So much he's missed out on. So much I've failed to expose him to!
Fortunately for me the event was as inspiring as it was guilt-inducing. So while I regret that I have not yet told my kid to go ahead and tear apart his Teddy bears to see how they're made, I am excited about giving him the green light to hack away. And I'm now resolved to help him film those Star Wars Lego figure movies for YouTube he's been talking about making for months. And I'm relieved that I have been showing him how he can build anything his mind can conjure with a pizza box, tape and a few popsicle sticks.
Success for our kids in the 21st Century will require they expand their digital skill sets beyond the wonders of their Digital Native texting thumbs. And that will be just the minimum requirement for entry into the workforce. Excelling will require creativity and innovation. Thinking differently. And that starts with having the audacity to question, to challenge... and as a first step, breaking apart toys to see how they work.