PAX Prime: The Next Generation of Geeks Speak Out on Bullying

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At PAX Prime 2013, parents and kids of all ages and stripes filled the theater to talk with GeekMoms and GeekDads about raising the next generation of geeks. Also sitting behind the mics for this year’s panel were some of our progeny, who had their own valuable points of view on what it’s like to grow up geeky today.

The panel centered on interactive discussion with the families in the audience, and many parents had questions for the kids on the panel on a variety of topics, from favorite board games to how to share their own passions with their children. (Eleven-year-old Nora Wecks advised meeting kids halfway and embracing your children’s interests enthusiastically as well.) The most engaging topic on the panel, though, was a question from a parent about how the next generation of geeks handle bullying.

Gone are the days where bullying is confined to the bus or playground; today’s kids also contend with mean-spirited peers on Facebook and other social media. At only 13 years old, Lily Wecks has already experienced cyberbullying. Her father, Erik Wecks, spoke about it recently on GeekDad. Lily had more to say on the topic at PAX Prime. “There was a [Facebook] group page, and a couple of people in my class decided they were going to write a post about how obnoxious I was,” said Lily. “And it got really nasty. I ended up unfriending some people and leaving the group, and it really hurt. But it was also a good reminder that I need to choose. I can’t please everyone, so just be me.”

Nora had a similar experience with kids her in class, and her best advice for families was to speak up and get involved. “What really helped me is that I talked to my parents, and my parents talked to me,” shared Nora. “My parents got involved. I had an experience where some boys were treating me badly. And so my dad got involved and spoke to the principal about it. And that made me feel safe, that I was going to be taken care of.”

Rebecca Moore, 21 year old daughter of GeekMom Kay Moore, also encouraged parents to support their children, but realize that they can’t always stop the bad things that happen in life. “Keep an open dialogue with your kids,” said Rebecca. “If you do find out about bullying, you should take those steps to intervene, but know that you might not be able to stop it.

“You have to allow [your children] to build that strength themselves. Definitely step in so that they know you love and care, but you also have to be ready to support them. You can’t stop everything. …It is sort of a growth experience. Don’t be the parent that clings.”

Thanks again to the attendees of “Raising the Next Generation of Geeks” at PAX Prime, and our donors who made all the fantastic prize giveaways possible.

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Kelly Knox is a freelance writer in Seattle, WA, where she contributes to local parenting magazines. She also writes for StarWars.com, Geek & Sundry, and more. You can find crafts and art projects for geeky families at her blog The St{art} Button.