New York Comic Con’s “Geek Parenting” Panel: A View From the Audience

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NYCC Geek Parenting panelNYCC Geek Parenting panel

The panel, as seen from the audience. L-R: Amy Kraft, Andrea Schwalm, Nicole Wakelin, Corrina Lawson, Dave Giancaspro, Matt Blum, Ken Denmead

This past weekend I made it to my first major comic book convention, New York Comic Con (NYCC), and it was awesome! Squeezing in two panels made me a bit nostalgic for the smaller conventions I used to go to when I was younger. The other panel was fun, but I’m sure you’re more interested to hear about the “Geek Parenting: Raising Kids in Our Own Geeky Image” panel, which was led by editors and writers from the GeekDad and GeekMom blogs.

The Geek Parenting panel was on Sunday at 11:00, and if you missed it, you definitely missed out on a good discussion. GeekDad Publisher/Editor Ken Denmead served as moderator — he opened the panel with an introduction of who was on the panel, a brief overview of how they contributed to the topic of the panel, and a quick heads-up about the new Geek Dad book — enough to spark a parent’s interest. The ball rolled along from there into the first topic: comic book age-appropriateness.

Discussion started with how some comics have begun to focus on more adult-oriented clientele. An example to this point was how they have begun using adult-specific innuendos, adult locations that characters frequent, and certain actions that characters would engage in. This opened up a dialogue between the guests and the panelists. It was a really good discussion: nobody’s opinion was cut short or disregarded; ideas were allowed to be fully expressed and explained.

The panel continued on to the next topic: kids and the media. This focused on how to find good content through what is available in today’s society. It discussed how the internet is a great source, but that there are other non-tech-savvy avenues. Some ways mentioned were: word of mouth; trial and error; and even the library (they still exist!). In today’s world there are still many areas to explore, especially for those whose interests are still evolving. It was at this point in the panel that Corrina Lawson, one of GeekMom’s founders and editors (and a writer for GeekDad as well) mentioned the great news of the upcoming GeekMom book.

Ken was able to keep everything rolling smoothly, and the next topic was seasonal: reasons why parents should build their kids’ Halloween costumes. GeekDad Dave Giancaspro got some great laughs with his list, but since he’s planning to publish it on GeekDad himself in the next day or two, I won’t steal his thunder. Everyone shared past and present stories about their Halloweens and their costumes. It was a great reminder that Halloween is only a couple of weeks away, and definitely gave me some good ideas!

Unfortunately, it was around that time that the NYCC folks informed the panelists that they were going to have 15 minutes less time than they’d expected. So they turned to what was to be the final topic: electronic and non-electronic forms of gaming. One major idea I took from the discussion was that playing games with your children helps you determine where their interests really lie. If in playing one game their enthusiasm isn’t there, and then playing the next their enthusiasm skyrockets, you have an idea where their interests lie. It sounds obvious, but it’s not always easy to see it when you as a geek start with preconceived notions of which games are “good” and which aren’t.

While playing the games you are also able to tap into your and your child’s creative imagination by designing costumes or scenery, adapting rules, or adding more characters. Another point from this discussion was how a parent with less geeky interests would be able to contribute: maybe sewing an outfit or constructing a simple item to use during the game. This topic sparked a brief discussion about other ways to find out where your kids’ interests lie.

Overall, I walked away from the Geek Parenting panel with a positive attitude. Ken did a satisfyingly geeky job with time management and flow of the discussion throughout. Even when the NYCC organizers threw the monkey wrench in the machinery, they were able to adapt and continue on fluidly. I was really impressed with the interaction between the panelists and the guests and the topics that were being discussed — even when there were disagreements, they were never awkward or confrontational. It was a great panel discussion overall!

Photo by Dave Baldwin.

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