Friday, June 25, 2010

MrMegawhat - The tale of a 6 year old's Youtube channel

We talk a lot about digital natives. You know, the kids who are running circles around us adults when it comes to technology. So the other night a friend is over for dinner, and her 6 year old son and my 3 year old son are on the computer showing each other their favorite websites and games using the Kidzui web browser.  The 3 year old navigates the Kidzui browser like he invented it. He doesn't need to spell. The 6 year old has never used Kidzui but has no problem find everything he's looking for. It's almost mundane.

Meanwhile, I am in ubber geek mode (i.e. ignoring everyone) because I'm facilitating a three day workshop on Teaching 21st Century Learning (whatever that means) and getting ready to go to the ISTE 2010 conference in Denver. But I overhear our friend in the kitchen say that her son has created his own Youtube channel to create videos of himself reading books. My ears perk up like a rabbit and I'm off the couch, into the kitchen, grinning and listening like a mad man. She goes on, though a bit perplexed by my over-enthusiastic looks. She explains how she wanted to support his request to make the videos for Youtube and how she always made sure she was in the room or nearby to keep an eye on things. She also helped him to format the channel and add some captions. "He loves Captain Underpants books," she says. "And one day, I'm at work telling a friend about his Youtube channel, and she asks to see it." But when they go online to view it there's a problem.

The 6 year old boy has taken an opportunity when no one is looking (he is super tech savvy) to make a video pretending to be Captian Underpants, and in this video he is dressed in only, you guessed it, his underpants.  The mother is horrified.  The video is promptly deleted, and the boy is banned from making videos.

I remember when I was 6. I had a tape recorder and a microphone, and I spent countless hours making news casts, radio shows, and reading books. Every tape I made is gone I'm guessing (unless my mom is holding out for my 40th birthday in an attempt to embarrass me). But this boy's videos may potentially live on forever, and yes, that might also mean his mistake. Our desire to express ourselves, to create and to share seems so ingrained. The difference is that MrMegawhat has over 6,000 views on some of his recordings and no one ever heard mine.

I don't want his videos to go viral. I question what will happen if I share this post. I do believe MrMegawhat has created a wonderful artifact of his passion minus the one video, so with his mother's permission I have decided to share. I have few answers to the obvious questions this tale tells, but I hope that telling will bring me closer to the truth.