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1 BILLION REASONS WHY YOUR KIDS SHOULD SPEND MORE TIME ON THE COMPUTER

I am a proud 80’s baby! I was born and raised during the age of Nintendo game systems, Bart Simpson T-Shirts, caller ID-less telephones and mustard that came in a glass jar. During my late teens and early 20’s I had my first introduction to this thing that we call the internet.  Back in 1998 I had to hope and pray that my mother wouldn’t have to use the telephone while I was on the internet in an AOL chatroom talking to who knows who about who knows what.  I would spend hours on the internet in chat rooms and on websites. Learning how to do stuff like save pictures of fancy cars to my desktop wallpaper, or eventually graduating to sites like  Bearshare and Napster to download music.  I thought I had it all figured out.  Boy was I wrong! I had no idea that there was much more to the internet than AOL Instant Messenger.  Even though I didn’t capitalize on it the way that I should have, I’m glad I got to have those experiences while the world wide web was still in it’s infancy.  It gave me a greater appreciation for what I read yesterday when it was announced that social networking giant Facebook had acquired start up company Instagram for ONE BILLION U.S.DOLLARS!

If you are not familiar with Instagram, it is a photo sharing application that was exclusively available to iPhone and Ipad users up until last week.  Facebook’s owner Mark Zuckerberg saw the potential in Instagram and it’s 30 million users and decided that it would be in his company’s best interest to snatch it up and make it their own.  Instagram allows users to take photos, add retro filters and share with friends.  Seems like a pretty simple idea. In fact the owners of Instagram say that they were inspired to create the app by the old instant Polaroid cameras that most of us grew up on.

So, Zuckerberg pays $1 billion in cash and stock for a 2-year old company with 13 employees. Not really a bad come up for 2 guys in their 30’s who graduated from Stanford.

So as parents what can we learn from Instagram’s owners hitting the mega millions lottery savvy business move?  Well, I think the first thing that we can understand is how important it is for our children to be raised with an understanding of the value of technology and how essential it is to their existence in society.   I’m a firm believer that children should start learning about computers at a very early age. And by early, I mean right around the time that they start walking. Being around computers and technology has to be like second nature to them because without it, they are going to be behind in the classroom, the workforce, and in life.

I think it is especially important for minority children to get a head start in the area of technology. That means we have to step up parents! And I don’t mean just learning how to play Angry Birds on your iPad.  I think we have to make sure that we are stressing the importance of getting familiar with technology and creating a greater understanding of where it can take you if you simply embrace it.   As parents of black and latino children we can’t afford to let the same things that intimidate us intimidate our children.  I have no problems admitting that I hate roller coasters and those weird carnival rides that lift you up to unknown heights and drop you down to the ground and pick you back up, and drop you back down. That type of stuff just isn’t my thing.  As I’ve gotten older, the mere thought of being thousands of feet in the air and rocking back and forth just makes my stomach turn.  My 7-year-old daughter on the other hand loves them. She will get on any roller coaster or ride that her size permits. She hasn’t met a roller coaster ride that she doesn’t like. I mean she is fearless! Now as a father I would be wrong to let my fears prohibit her from doing what she wants to do.  In fact, when we go to an amusement part or a carnival I encourage her to ride as many rides as she wants until her heart is content.  The same approach must be taken when she wants to try her hand at other things that may intimidate me.  Fear of the unknown can’t be an option when you are raising children.  Times have changed, and we must push our kids into a realm of success.

If your children are familiar with Facebook or Instagram I encourage you to share with them the success of Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.  These two young men should be an example for not only success in business but also what can happen when you relentlessly chase your dreams.  After graduating college and working for several tech companies like Google and Twitter the two created a plan and made it work a billion times over.

The days of sitting around and allowing your child to go to school without any parental involvement are over.  As a parent you must get involved with your children’s education and make sure they are being pushed to levels of excellence and greatness.  If greatness is going to be achieved with the next generation it all starts at home.  There  are plenty of free educational apps that can be installed on cell phones, computers and laptops. Just take a moment and think about how proud the parents of Kevin and Mike were when they heard the announcement of their children’s accomplishment.  That’s the kind of joy that I want to feel as a parent. Not because of the monetary value attached to the deal, but because of the level that Kevin and Mike met and exceeded their goals.  I could only imagine the sense of satisfaction that was felt by the parents when they got that first phone call or text from their son.

With a little hard work, persistance, and dedication who knows…Anything is possible.   YOUR child could be the next billionaire…get the “Picture”?!?!?

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