Matt Blum didn’t write the book on parenting, but he does edit an essential blog on geek families.
Maintaining your geek life can be an ongoing ordeal. Reddit is consistently updated, technology constantly reveals new add-ons, and Doctor Who hits you with new seasons out of nowhere.
So what happens when you throw parenthood into the mix?
Enter Wired‘s GeekDad blog. The site, which began as an independent project, provides insight and tips for geeks who are also fathers. With a rotating cast of contributors, the columns range from overviews of child-friendly video games to instructional guides for kids about new technologies. As it rose in popularity with older geeks navigating parenthood, it spawned the sister site, GeekMom.
Seated at the head of GeekDad’s table—literally in the case of a recent appearance at Intervention Con in Washington, D.C.—is managing editor Matt Blum. A soft-spoken software engineer who lists LEGOs, science fiction, and bacon as areas of interest, Blum is no stranger to the struggles involved with raising a family in a geeky household: He’s happily married with two kids, ages 9 and 11.
Blum spoke to the Daily Dot about the Internet, smartphones, and his family values.
Daily Dot: In your opinion, what traits do kids raised by geek parents share?
The kids tend to have active imaginations. They like experimenting with new things and trying out new technologies. Also, they don’t really care if others think that they’re weird.
DD: What opportunities and challenges does the Internet pose?
Well, in our house, the computer we let the kids use is right out in the open, so we can constantly see what sites they’re visiting and what they’re doing. The Internet is great for them to play games, to help them with their schoolwork, to talk to their friends.
My wife and I have to be careful about what we let them access, though. We gave them a list of websites that it’s OK to visit and for anything else they want to go on, they must ask us first. It’s different from monitoring what they watch on TV since you can communicate with other people.
Honestly, there are an awful lot of inappropriate sites out there. I think it’s important that parents just talk with their kids about that. Don’t scare them, but explain that not everyone online is a nice person. We tell them why we think a site they’re not allowed to visit is bad. Fortunately, there’s a lot of software out there that you can put into place that helps out. If you personally aren’t that tech-savvy, find a friend who is who can help you out with everything. Have them help you pick out a password that your kids cannot possibly crack.
DD: What is your opinion on households in which kids have their own laptops and smartphones?
I personally don’t think any kid under 13 should have a smartphone. But again, in those cases, your best course of action is to install the safety software and set controls on the devices. I would also suggest limiting how much the kids use them.
DD: What does the future hold as the kids age?
Aside from the problems every teenage kid faces, I don’t really see any major difficulties. Obviously, as they get older, you have to police them a little more when they’re online. Again, though, the important thing to do is talk to them. They won’t always agree with you, but you have to be firm.
Now, a friend of ours has a daughter who just became a teenager, and she’s retained her geekiness. I introduced my own kids to Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Muppet Show. They loved it all and the next year, my son was the Swedish Chef for Halloween, and they did Muppet Show sketches at school.
They’re proud to call themselves geeks. And that’s what makes me happy.
Photo via Mike Fenn
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