Settling down for Young Voices at the O2.
Settling down for Young Voices at the O2.
This article by James Bridle is being shared everywhere and for good reason. I’ve seen first hand one of my children wandering to a seemingly innocent YouTube video called something like ‘Try not to laugh’ which interspersed cartoon sequences with video of real bus crashes and a death metal soundtrack. The deliberate shock material the most upsetting thing to me, although the weird farms of auto-generated CGI videos that are then being watched by robots in order to generate income from the advertisements is pretty disturbing. I assume that Google doesn’t mind too much as they take their cut of the advertising revenue. Just think of the external impact of the energy resource usage that is going into this.
My mind is blown by how quickly there is a grotesque race to the bottom as soon as a new technology platform is introduced. YouTube’s launch in 2005 feels like yesterday and here we are already.
A couple of weekends ago I spent an entire Sunday sitting in a field watching my two young boys competing in the Berkhamsted Raiders football tournament which traditionally marks the end of our season. Raiders is a great club to be a part of — we have won FA and European recognition for the club, and particularly how it is run in the spirit of respect and fair play.
If you turn up at a match at our club you will always find someone has put up a ‘respect barrier’ rope along one of the lengths of the pitch, the idea being that the supporters from both teams stand behind this to watch the match. This gives the players, coaches and referee a bit of distance — a brilliant idea, particularly when the match is getting heated and temperatures are running high. It’s always the job of the home team to get the respect barrier up before the game. If the person putting it up has managed to untangle the rope and get the support poles into the frozen ground, an aerial view of it would look like this:
Typically when the supporters turn up they cluster at each end with people that they know. Here they are, eight supporters of each team closely watching the ball which is dangerously close to the goal on the left:
The problem with this setup, especially when the ball is close to the line near the respect barrier, is that not everyone can see. If the action is directly in front of you it’s fine but if you are at the other end of the pitch or even a few people deep, the angle to the ball means it becomes very hard to maintain a clear line of sight. Everyone is straining to see which only makes the situation worse:
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a solution to this problem! I’d love to take credit for it but it has to go to a fellow parent from another Raiders team who suggested it to me. Instead of having the respect barrier completely parallel to the length of the pitch, it can be configured in a ‘V’ shape as shown below:
Assuming that people don’t push so far forward that they strain or break the respect barrier (showing very little respect in the process), everyone at the front should then have a reasonable chance of seeing the action wherever it is on the pitch. Occasionally this can be difficult to do where one pitch sits alongside another one, however the ‘V’ doesn’t have to be very deep in order to have a massive impact on visibility:
Hopefully, armed with this knowledge we’ll be able to go into next season being able see even more on-pitch action than before. Well, at least at our home games.
My employer has recently signed up to the CityMothers network which gives staff the opportunity to network with other working parents and attend seminars and events organised by the group. Yesterday morning I went along to my first one, hosted at the law firm Bird & Bird, on ‘Raising Confident, Competent Children.’
The presenter, Anita Cleare, was excellent. I gathered from the comments of other attendees that some had been to her seminars a few times before; lots of them had very glowing feedback about her presentations and a few mentioned that they had taken action based on her advice which had changed their home lives for the better.
The seminar was good in that it reinforced to me that my wife and I are already doing—I think—a reasonably good job with our children. Time will tell! However there were also a few tips that I picked up as well as some tweaks that I think we need to make in terms of how we deal with certain situations.
The session was divided into six subject areas and here are my notes from each one:
It was definitely worthwhile and good to have some time to reflect on how we do things in our house. The view from the office was pretty fantastic too:
We took a family trip to London today to go and see The Art of the Brick exhibition in the Old Truman Brewery near Spitalfields. Our boys (aged seven and five) both enjoyed it and we wandered around to a lot of excited calls of “Daddy!” and “Mummy!” as they came across new things.
Although a lot of the artefacts in the exhibition were impressive, the notes about each exhibit came across as pretty cheesy and at £47 for all of us to get in it didn’t feel like great value for money. Still, we had fun and enjoyed a look around the market afterwards. Photos from the exhibition are below.
At bedtime tonight my two boys spent 20 minutes walking me through their Minecraft book and excitedly telling me me all about the worlds they have created, the things you can build and the characters you can encounter. They’ve been reaching for the iOS version of the game at every opportunity we give them. As much as I enjoyed talking to them about it I always feel so paralysed and conflicted about the children and technology. Half of me wants to just embrace getting computers, Raspberry Pis etc. to encourage them and the other half of me is scared of losing them to computer and video game addiction and/or the perils of the Internet.
It feels weird that the adults in the house have pretty much unrestricted use of technology and the kids just have a little bit of time playing games. When I was little in the mid-80s to mid-90s it was the other way around—I spent endless hours on the computer and it eventually led me to a Computer Science degree and a career in technology—but those times were different. With my old Acorn Electron, BBC Micro or A3000 I was limited to playing around with the programs I had on disk, typing in ‘listings’ that were printed in magazines or writing programs of my own. I know a bit of the answer is to sit with them in order to make sure the time is spent well but this isn’t always practical and a big part of me wants them to spend time exploring and creating on their own without me supervising their every move. They should soon be showing me things that I didn’t know! By restricting their interactions with technology could they be missing out on possibilities to learn and grow?
I’ve toyed with the idea of buying a refurbished pre-Internet computer and showing them how to program it but if it doesn’t spark their imagination it would be a bit of an expensive mistake. They talk about their friends having consoles but I’m not sure I want an XBox or PlayStation in the house due to not having time myself to understand how to make them safe for the children. We can restrict the games to family-friendly ones but I assume they come with lots of social features and I’d like to turn some of those off until they are a bit older.
I realise as I type this that these are all ‘first world problems’ and in the grand scheme of things this isn’t a big deal but it continues to play on my mind as they get older. I’m sure we’ll work it out.