Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kids and Creepy Treehouses

As I was researching information in my quest to become more enlightened, I came across an interesting idea based on fear and entitlement. Sure enough it had to do with technology but more importantly it had to do with my kids. Sorry to be so self involved...

(Shameless self promotion coming...) I am in the process of collecting notes for a presentation I am giving to the Maine Boys Network about the use of technology in helping boys communicate and I came across this concept of a "creepy treehouse".

By definition from Jared Stein it is "any move to integrate or aggregate new institutional tools or systems with new systems or tools already embraced by the community may be seen as creepy treehouses, in as much as it may be construed as institutional infringement upon the social or professional community of its participants." By definition from Dave Lepage - It is basically the use of existing technologies (like Facebook) by teachers and the feeling that students get when we infringe upon something that they believe is their territory. The fallout is that once the adults invade these communities, they are no longer useful to the students.

Case in point - when is the last time you heard about your child posting to their MySpace account? What happened to MySpace?....

I'll tell you - the adult demographic found the site, logged on and took over. Now - MySpace became OurSpace and the kids didn't like it so they jumped ship to Facebook.

This is not new information but what I have been really interested in is that now Facebook has become a destination for the older generation (by older I mean my age range... I must now apologize to my friends...). I have used it to find friends I haven't connected with in years, poke fun at my existing friends, and oh yeah, figure out how our kids create relationships and communicate. The interesting thing is - my kids don't seem to be bothered by this invasion from their parents.

My wife is even more plugged into her Facebook than I am and our kids (who have thier own accounts) do not seem to mind the intrusion at all from either parent. In fact, they seem to quite enjoy it. Here comes the deep philosophical questions....

If Facebook is called something of a creepy treehouse then as parents (and builders of treehousees for years), how can we make these treehouses less creepy?

Is it because our kids see their parents interacting in the same way they do and might even think its cool? (They would never admit it...)

Could the younger age of our kids have something to do with it?? (Age range 7 - 14)

Is this a place where they are getting needed attention when we are not in front of their face?

Considering it is not traditional parent/kid time and we never used the interactions to parent - do they (the kids) appreciate the interactions more?

If we stay in the technology loop and learn with them as opposed to "after" them, is there a sense of team as opposed to a feeling of invasion?

Hmmmm.... - I think parents can once again reclaim the building of treehouses and they can once again be a great place for human interaction as opposed to being creepy...

Great Halloween topic! - Happy Halloween!


  1. First of all, we are not old, Dave. On that note, my son has 'allowed' me to be a friend of his on facebook. He also has one friend (who has been around our family since he was 8) that sent me a friend request. I was,however, given strict guidelines by my son. One wrong move and I will be blocked. I am pretty much allowed to say hi on occasion, but if I write anything personal or God forbid comment on another friend, I am out!
    I am ok with that. It's a relatively noninvasive way of taking a peek into his social life. Some kids don't even allow their parents to be friends so I consider myself privileged.

  2. I,too, appreciate the fact that my children have allowed me to be their 'friend" on FB. This has given us, as parents, the opportunity to teach the ediquette of technology use to our children in a non-confrontational way. What is safe to post and what is not? How long should you indulge in the FB world? Whether we like it or not, this is our kids future, so we may as well enjoy the ride with them. Hold on, hands in the air, and scream! :)

  3. Being parents of children that have moved from the nest, we have used facebook as a tool to keep in touch and share photo ops when we cannot be there in person. We are all aware that our time with our children is very brief and we must enhance it in any way we can. This site gives each of us our very own crystal ball into our childrens and friends lives, and lets be honest, we love those little glimpses we get to see. Thank you Facebook