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12
Sep

How Digital Dads Raise Their Digital Native Children

Digital Dad plays with Digital Native ChildrenIn a previous article, I asked a very simple question: Are You a Digital Native or a Digital Immigrant?  Digital Natives are people born after the introduction of digital technology.  Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, Twitter, iPads, Xbox, and smart phones allow digital natives to blend their online life with their offline life.  Digital Immigrants are people born before the advent of digital technology, so they adapting to these new technology.

Some Digital Immigrants are actually raising Digital Natives.  Today, let’s focus on how Digital Dads use the latest technology to raise their digital native children.

Dads and Non-Dads Use Technology Differently

You might be surprised to know that dads use technology differently than non-dads.  According to the RSCG Worldwide, a recent survey had these findings about Digital Dads and Digital Dudes (or, Non-Dads):

   Digital Dads

   Digital Dudes, or Non-Dads

  • 72% posted a product review on Twitter
  • 57% have posted a product review on Twitter
  • 55% ask for advice online
  • 30% ask for advice online
  • 64% seek out other digital dads online
  • 25% seek out other dudes online
  • 77% are connected with their kids online.
  • 57% are connected with a kid online.
  • 42% track their kid’s browsing history
  • 29% track a kid’s browsing history
  • 61% limit their kid’s online time
  • 50% limit a kid’s online time
  • 42% give their kid’s a digital time out
  • 31% give a kid a digital time out
  • 76% think kids are at a disadvantage without the Internet
  • 68% think kids are at a disadvantage without the Internet

Personally, I do not find this information too startling.  I am a Digital Dad, who is a Digital Immigrant raising a Digital Native son.  Digital dads (and parents) are using the newer technology to help them with parenting.

A Day in the Life of a Digital Dad

iDadSit back kids…it’s time for another exciting episode of Digital Dad.  Look up on Skype.  It’s a tweet!  It’s a Like!  No,it’s Digital Dad!  Yes, he’s that strange visitor from another time, who has powers and abilities far beyond those of normal Dads!  Yes, it’s Digital Dad, who can change the course of your household router, use a digital keyboard with his bare hands, and who, disguised as a mild-mannered dad in a not-so-great metropolitan area, fights a never-ending battle to be hip, cool, and tuned in to his Digital Native kid’s ways! Yes, it is time for another exciting episode of Digital Dad!

Our story begins in a typical household, where Digital Dad must use all of the technology available to make sure his son gets to his basketball game on time this Saturday.  He begins by waking up to our alarm clock to get to the tournament on time.  Digital Dad received a text message sent from the Coach to all the parents and players about a last minute changes to the schedule.  So, it is off to the Digital Dad-mobile.  The family piles into the car.

Digital Dad uses the GPS to navigate to the gym in another city.  Meanwhile, in the back seat, his son either listens to music on his phone, reads on the Kindle Fire, or plays a video game on iPod.  They arrive at the game 45 minutes early.

Digital Dad’s son sends text messages to let his basketball buddies know that he has arrived.  Derek (another Digital Dad) uses his iPad to take videos of the basketball team’s games.  Derek likes to post the videos to You Tube, where he shares them with the other parents.  Mike (another Digital Dad) adds the videos to the team’s website.  The coach (yes, another Digital Dad) will ask another of the Digital Dads (usually, me) to run the clock and scoreboard at the game.

At the state or national tournaments, the coach will have the Digital Dads take videos of the other teams.  Another Digital Dad brings a projector, so the Coach can review the videos with the basketball players.  The Coach will play, rewind, and pause the videos multiple times for the kids to review.  The technology is how the dads and lads interact, play, learn, share, and build memories.

During each game, another Digital Dad uses an iPad application that specifically tracks the shots missed and shots made.  This particular application has an easy-to-use interface with colorful displays that everyone enjoys–coaches, players, and digital dads. During some games, you will see a Digital Native helping a Digital Dad to keep up with the shots missed and shots made.  Two hands working in tandem, interacting with the technology.  One is child’s hand, the other is a Digital Dad.

Between games, you can see the digital dads talking with each other.  The Coach tells the other Digital Dads about how he used Skype to talk with his daughter, who is away at college.  Another dad uploads photos to a team website.  Another dad talks about the latest WordPress Plug-in they want to use.  You will see some Digital Dads helping their boys with homework, using their smartphones to create a hotspot for their boy to access the Internet on a laptop.  Other families will gather around an iPad and watch a movie.  And, you will see someone reading a book or magazine on the Kindle Fire.  Other people listen to music on some digital device.

Yes, it is just another episode in the crazy life of Digital Dads.  For me, I call it last Saturday.

Key Takeaways for Designers

I think this research illustrates some key points for designers:

  • Digital Dads are a Viable Market.  Dads use technology to interact with their children.  They do not want their children to be left behind.  For Digital Dads, technology allows them to interact with their Digital Native children at home, school, and play.  Build applications (like the Basketball app) geared for dads and lads.
  • Digital Dads Form Communities.  Digital Dads want online communities for themselves and their children.  For example, Wonderdads is an online community specifically built for today’s digital dad.  In this community, dads get parenting advice,  receive book recommendations, and learn about activities in their local areas.
  • Technology is More Than a Tool.  Digital dads use technology to communicate, entertain, learn, and more.  A recent commercial shows a dad playing with a tablet on a camping trip with his son.  The campers plot constellations, take pictures, read stories, play games, and watch movies.  For Digital Dads, technology builds a connection.
  • Digital Dads Blend Online & Offline Lives.   As this research reveals, Digital Dads are quickly immigrating to this new technology.  They are blending their online and offline lives more than Digital Moms and Digital Seniors.  The reason is simple:  they want to interact more with their children.
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