Conferences1If you ever have the chance to take your kids to a conference, don’t think twice: Do it. In June, my daughters and I had the opportunity to attend the Digital Family Summit, held at the Sheraton Society Hill in downtown Philadelphia. The brainchild of digital media consultant Stephanie Schwab and digital content guru Jennie Baird, the idea was to bring bloggers and their families together for three days of developing our little digital natives into stronger, sharper, more skillful digital thinkers and leaders (and some killer parties, freebees and swag bags, which I must admit, helped sell the concept to my kids). 

The Digital Family Summit was three fun days of keynote talks, panels and workshops (including a fabulous workshop on travel writing by TMOM goddess-in-chief Kim Orlando) in an atmosphere peppered with great food, yummy snacks and over the top parties (the “candy bar” was a daily attraction!). Kids got to learn to shoot and edit video, to create digital animation with Scratch, they learned how to start a blog, how to monetize it, and how to think like an entrepreneur.

Sponsors brought great messages and experiences, such as Microsoft’s strategies for staying safe on line; UbiSoft’s preview of JustDance 4, and Gillette’s Pink Carpet Party for Venus razors. And thanks to Go RVing, I will never hear the end of “Mom, can we rent an RV for vacation? It’s not that expensive, and you said it was nice!”

OK, so maybe most conferences aren’t for kids, and this one was special (check www.digitalfamilysummit.com so you don’t miss the next one). But the experience that my daughters had was universal: They were excited about all they learned: 

  • How to network and meet people
  • How to listen to a speaker
  • How to be entertained by a speaker (especially keynoter Dave Carroll, of United Breaks Guitars)
  • How to be inspired by a speaker
  • Just Dance Disney EditionHow to take notes
  • How to take a workshop
  • How (and why) to write, create and edit 
  • How to turn what you learn into how you live and work
  • How to go to bed late, get up early and still have tons of enthusiasm
  • How to eat three meals, three snacks and four desserts and still have room for candy.

Most importantly, they got a window into my life: how I work, who I know, what my work means to me, and the excitement that is created when you’re in a room with 300 other people who are as excited and engaged about your business as you are. They are beginning to see the possibilities of their future rather than seeing work as boring; they are beginning to see communication (writing, blogging, Facebooking, networking, listening) as the way to get what you want rather than an arduous task assigned by a mean teacher, and they are beginning to see how all this is fun, rewarding and exciting.

Vast expanses of chaffing dishesShaping our little people into thinkers and doers is a long, hard road; any helpful resource is a gift. Conferences targeted to kids are rare, but they do exist (Tedx Kids, Students Involved with Technology Conference, or SunCameraAction for example). And if you can’t find one specifically for kids, don’t be afraid to take your kids to a conference that interests you. After all, every conference at least has some cool swag, a fun locale and arrays of food, which are sure to put smiles on those little faces.