We are exposed to endless news about children suffering at the hands of technology - cyber bullying, the 'dark net' and internet addiction amongst the young. Reports suggest that Japan's Ministry of Education is looking at opening 'internet fasting' camps to help fight addiction to the online world in adolescents. As a parent I do have some concerns, but nothing like most parents who seem to be convinced that digital spells danger for kids - and that they will all ultimately end up meeting a stranger thanks to the Internet.
I want to debunk that popular myth by sharing my own experiences. I have five kids, two dogs and a cat. To say we are a tech-friendly household is an understatement.
My oldest, a girl, is 14, and the youngest, a boy, five. This has meant that I now have my very own living room lab, which allows me to study what true digital natives are doing and what they like. In this blog I will explore my family's relationship with technology and the way it is impacting our lives.
In fact, I have been referred to as the 'Digital Dad' because I am so gung ho about digital. I am looking forward to a second screen Christmas; I will not be banning my children from having their Android phones, consoles, and every other gadget around the Christmas tree.
The world has changed and I am thrilled by the possibility of young children being taught to code. Living in a technologically advanced domestic environment is all part of the fun and I firmly believe that being fully immersed in digital is good for kids. I was pleased to read that Minecraft (a popular digital Lego game, which can be played on iPhones, iPads, Xboxes and PlayStations) has been deemed good for their development according to psychologists. They say it fosters team-working skills because children need to collaborate on building projects. Our children are becoming more creative, sociable and cooperative. Dr Nicola Yuill, head of the Chat Lab at the University of Sussex, a research unit specialising in children and technology, has found that augmented toys can increase children's cooperative play and using tablet computers for collaborative learning and co-creation. This does not surprise me given my own experiences.
My kids are embarrassed by my enthusiasm for Snapchat, Twitter, their Instagram feeds, Facebook, Facetime when they are away and every gadget. But I think as a Digital Dad. I want to be part of their lives and technology also interests me.
I'm a geek myself. I've worked in digital for the past 20 years and am now CEO of a digital agency. I was at a conference in the early 90s when Nicholas Negroponte, spoke about something called the internet. It was love at first site. I dedicate my life to this new frontier.
But other than being a digital enthusiast, I'm also a realist and the digital revolution is here to stay. Two thirds of UK 12- to 15-year-olds now have a smartphone, according to the latest Ofcom report - up 50% from the year before. Parents, if you haven't already, you might as well join the online party.
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