With #Betaparents trending on Twitter yesterday, but in a digital context and not the “drawing battle-lines against alpha mums context” where I first came to hear the term, I figured there’s no better time to talk about what being a “Beta parent” means to ol’ me.
The definition of Beta parent has evolved from being a term used to describe the ‘alternative’ (for want of a better word) parent who aims to harness and nurture their child’s creativity to the Beta parent who only wants to keep their children inside, permanently affixed to a computer screen, to being completely redefined this week by Norton as the term to used describe all of us – as the first generation of parents raising children in an all-encompassing digital world.
I’m not sure if Norton’s promotional campaign to get #betaparents trending has had quite the effect they had hoped for, with its pun being used to condemn parents for not teaching children the value of outdoor play (unfair, but das ist the beauty of Twitter).
I don’t see the correlation myself; why it has to be one or the other? Digital can surely serve to supplement children’s understanding of the outside world and to nature and the world through a child’s eyes.
The beta parent knows that technology doesn’t have to distract from learning, that it can in fact enhance learning. There’s no escaping tech: in this world of few certainties (queue the old adage of ‘death and taxes’) there is certainty that technology is here to stay and to ever-evolve, and it will be this generation of children who shape tomorrow’s digital world.
There just has to be a balance – most parents get that and the vast majority of kids use tech AND play outside(!) – the Twittersphere isn’t giving folks enough credit under the hastag #betaparents!
Of course, the digital spaces we expose our children to have to be safe, and this can be worrisome, even to the most tech-savvy of us all.
There’s a wealth of information on protecting your children online (my recommendations include Common Sense Media and Childnet which have become Bibles for me as Airside Andy launches into digital space) and on our own website we’re starting to build on our tips to make children’s online experiences within the MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) arena as safe as possible.
This is still a work-in-progress and as the game develops we’re offering parents (I’ve stopped saying #betaparents as 200 words into this blog-post I concluded that the term is EXHAUSTING and just too annoying!) the chance to test the game, along with their children and see how the safety features (as well as the educational and fun features!) on an MMO should work from the ground up.
It’s Beta game testing, but with a difference. The usual beta test objective is to assess the current product quality, software support and market readiness. Basically, de-bug it!
Of course, this forms part of our program but we’re actually hoping for a lot more. We’d like to improve on the quality of the Airside Andy game during the beta testing, according to WHAT PARENTS WANT and CHILDREN LIKE.
Our sketched ideas for Beta testers – make them all superheroes!
We’re not taking, ‘we think we got it right’ for granted and we’ll be looking for feedback to help mould the game. This is extremely exciting for us! I mean, everything from music to voice-overs, to safety features, to avatar names and game-play, will ultimately be decided by our testers.
Current safety features include parent log-in facility for access, exclusively pre-typed chat for safe social and a completely ad-free environment.
We hope that by giving our testers unique insights to the game, not only will we be ensuring that we launch the best kids MMO in the world, but we’ll also be providing identifiers to help parents safeguard children across other apps and digital platforms.
If you’re interested in this unique opportunity you can email me direct at [email protected] and I’ll fly you over some information.
Have a great weekend folks x
And of course it wouldn’t be fair not to include Norton’s free e-book