SXSW: defining tomorrow's leaders



I have a nephew and four nieces aged between four and eleven. Whenever I see them, I find it amazing to watch how they interact with technology – how things that often seem new and shiny to me are just normal and everyday to them.

Kids are growing up exposed to technology. That’s a fact, nothing we’re going to do now will change that – I think the debate about how much screen time is too much misses the point. What is really interesting to me is how increased screen time is shaping kids’ development and how that in turn will shape the future of society. In business in particular, I’m interested in how kids open access to technology and games such as minecraft is developing a whole new set of leadership and management skills – skills which we will look for in the business leaders of the future.

This is what inspired my SXSW Panel, Kids & Screen Time: Defining Tomorrow’s Leaders. Along with Dr Jim Taylor, an internationally recognized authority on the psychology of parenting, we’re looking to explore how kids and their increased access to online play is shaping the leadership skills of the future. Please vote and leave a comment – we’d love to know what you think.

The relationship between children and technology is explored in a handful of SXSW panels, many of which take a distinctly different approach to our own. When taking a look at the content on show, a number of sessions struck a chord with me – all taking very different angles and approaches, but all asking important questions. Here are my favourite three.

Changemaker Ed: Transforming How Kids Grow Up
We live in a world of uncertainty defined by rapid change. While we do not know what tomorrow’s problems will be, we know we will need everyone equipped to deal with them. Educators are uniquely positioned to empower students to be changemakers – able to collaborate, create, and act empathetically in ambiguous and changing environments. In this session, a panel of educators and youth groups draw on diverse experiences and approaches, discussing why we must transform the way in which kids grow up.

What Kids Want: The New Business of Youth Culture
Some of today’s most exciting innovations in technology, entertainment, and brand development are in products and services made for kids and teens. Beyond being digital natives, this generation of young people want interactive experiences that reflect who they are, not tell them who to be. They search out spaces to communicate with friends and celebrate passions, and there’s nothing more powerful than their enthusiasm. This panel from Fast Company, ToyTalk and more discusses how to listen to a young audience, how to address privacy and ethical issues, and how to authentically meet the expectations of the most creative and independent generation of consumers yet.

Gen Z: Why Today’s Kids Will Change Everything
Kids today are…different. We delve into the insights of Generation Z, kids today aged 6–17 and the technology that is driving them to new heights. Through the lens of the generations that came before them, Gen X and Millennials, we paint a picture of socio-economic and technology change that has culminated in an explosion of opportunity unlike any before it for our youth today. From 3D printing, to new forms of tech in the classroom, this session explores how our kids’ unprecedented access to technology and new worldview is setting the stage for what history may deem as the next Renaissance or Period of Modernity. This session will open your eyes to the power of kids, and the future they hold.

You can vote for Mobbie & Jim’s panel Kids & Screen Time: Defining Tomorrow’s Leaders on the SXSW PanelPicker site before the end of this week.