All parents hope their kids venture out to do things that are bigger than their comfort zone. This is a tale of our son and the adventure he is embarking on!
The Microsoft Council for Digital Good
About six months ago, I heard about a new initiative Microsoft was launching—the Council for Digital Good. It would consist of teenagers from all walks of life converging into this inaugural group to provide feedback, insight, and perspective as digital natives. One of Microsoft’s goals for this group is for them to help “advance digital civility and safer online interactions.” And also, “To help young people fully appreciate and understand the risks and potential harms associated with life online.”
Careful not to push my own agenda, I approached my newly-teenage son, asking if he might want to apply. He was curious about it, and wondered if he even had a chance of making it. “They want me to tell them about my life online, mom. I don’t HAVE a life online.” (He may have added a “thanks to you,” in good humor, but I can’t be sure.)
I told him that his perspective as a teen who does not participate in social media or have his own devices yet is just as valuable as that of teens who have been online for years. He seemed to see my point and said he’d think about it.
I knew he cared about kids being safe online, even though sometimes it makes his own life a lot less fun. We haven’t shielded him from stories we hear regarding Internet danger, and he often has good insight to offer. He’s also been known to raise his hand and share an opposing view in front of a classroom of peers about why social media is dangerous for pre-teens. He even wrote a report in the 4th grade about the one thing he would want to do to change the world if he were president: ban pornography.
The Adventure Begins
Over the last few months, our son has been able to participate in a few conference calls with other members of the council as they prepare for their big in-person summit, which happens next week. I’ll get to go with him to the Microsoft campus, where he’ll spend a couple of days in meetings talking about how technology affects his generation and what can be done to propel things in a more positive direction. He’ll have the opportunity to meet influencers in technology and share his thoughts from his own unique point of view.
We don’t share much about our kids publicly, and I assure you that is quite on purpose. We just don’t feel that their digital footprint is ours to create, so we have purposely kept them out of our blogs and social media posts. But as our kids cross from childhood to adolescence and beyond, some of that will change. For now, we are just so proud of our son wanting to make a difference in his generation. And more than anything, we’re proud of the way he has respected our boundaries with technology and grown to appreciate the wisdom behind all of the rules. He’s not perfect, but he is trying to make good choices.
Even without a PS4, even without an iPhone, even without Snapchat… he’s a joyful kid who actually genuinely loves his parents, loves God, gets good grades, and knows how to carry on a conversation with adults.
And even though we are far from perfect parents, we will take that as a win. We can’t wait to watch this adventure unfold!