The kids are more right

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We all move at different speeds; some of us use the web like our front room and share it with others without a second thought. Some of us see the web and the social sites with fear and loathing. I listened to Radio 4’s moral maze last night and was struck by the generation gap that exists between my generation and those that have followed.

I invited a group of colleagues to a secure chatroom on Facebook and closed it down when I realised I’d scared everyone silly!

My son is in a shared workgroup of 50 children , all 13 and 14 who use a Facebook Group to share information on homework. I bet, when you read that you thought – “cheating”. It is quite the opposite, what goes on in there is designed to cut out the waste of 50 kids wasting time individually organising their work, certain people volunteer to do the organisational work and there’s a scoreboard which records who has been most helpful. The collaborative approach allows time to be spent on learning rather than faffing.

The teachers are aware and encourage this. Not only are the kids learning more efficiently, they are creating collaborative behaviours using technology which is out there- for them it is not new technology, it’s just Facebook.

Everywhere I go I hear people of my generation sneering at youngsters for not getting out more yet I know few adults who have devised systems and processes as effective as this little Facebook group of my son’s.

The radio program I was listening to concentrated on two things – both negative

  1. That time spent on social media was time that could have been better spent on real life interactions
  2. That social sites were inherently dangerous to the vulnerable (especially children)

Where is the counter argument? Who is putting forward the obvious arguments that for every bad experience, there are many good and that most young people who use social media do so to free up time?  Who is pointing out that kids use technology to do the things they want to do rather than get caught in the dreary quotidian world that preoccupies their parents! Where are the adults who admit that the kids may have something to teach them?

In my day we had a phrase for the middle-aged gits who did not get our behaviour “boring old farts”. Thankfully I don’t get that kind of reaction from kids today who are far too busy getting on with their lives to worry about us worrying about them.

Sure our kids will make mistakes and sure those of us who are trying to bring the things that kids know to the attention of our peers will make mistakes.

But along the way we will get more things right than wrong and unless we keep our ears open and learn the lessons from the young, we will have rather missed their point.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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4 Responses to The kids are more right

  1. Mike Atkin says:

    Henry – Thankyou for sharing that perspective. I think you may have retarded my headlong descent in to boring old fartdom 🙂

  2. Martin says:

    As you might know Henry, St Pauls won the international “Young Enterprise” competition with a business called The Perfume Pen”. Actually what was of most interest was the fact that the team managed the company via Facebook. Whereas most companies struggle with face to face meetings, phone callls, emails and memos, “social” networking can be used as a more advanced business tool. Very few people realise this; the teenagers are ahead of us.

  3. henry tapper says:

    Thanks Martin

    There’s something galling about admitting we’ve got to learn from our kids but once we’ve swallowed our pride- it is quite exciting.

    I didn’t know about the Perfumed Pen but am going to check it out now- thanks.

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