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Two cars with bumper stickers: one says My child is an honor student at Central High School; the other says My kid's post got 30,000 reblogs on Tumblr

Proud parent

Proud parent published on

So your kid’s online, and suddenly they’re being exposed to all kinds of temptations — and you may not always be there to help them make the right choice. It’s time to have The Talk.

Sit them down and explain, “When someone likes like another person’s content very much, they sometimes Like or Favorite it. If it’s very special content, they may decide to reblog it.

“And when the time is right for you, that’s something you’ll probably want to explore for yourself.”

Make sure you talk about not pressuring others to like or reblog your content, and about how nobody should ever do that to them.

And then —tactfully— broach the subject of metrics. How getting a lot of likes, shares, retweets, notes and comments can feel really great… but that it’s easy to fall into the trap of chasing numbers instead of actual connections with other people. And how that can lead you to lose your sense of yourself and your own wonderful, invaluable voice.

“I don’t ever want you to feel your worth as a person depends on how many followers you have, or how many people are liking or sharing your content,” you could say. “Your voice is worthwhile in and of itself. Listen, maybe you’ll have five or ten or thousands of people who love what you have to say. Which is great. Just don’t ever confuse loving your content with loving you.

“That said” (and here a hug wouldn’t be out of place) “as long as I’m online, you’ll always be able to count on at least one like for everything you post.”

Apparently, my parenting responsibilities now include catching Pokemon for my kid on my morning commute.

To-do: Catch ’em all

To-do: Catch ’em all published on No Comments on To-do: Catch ’em all

My Pokemon GO issue started innocently enough. Knowing there are three PokeStops between my downtown bus stop and the front door of my office building, I’d collect PokeBalls, raspberries and potions for my son. Then I’d notice Drowzees and Magikarp hanging out near the entrance, so I’d nab one or two before I went in. I might walk the long way around the Convention Centre to give some of his incubating Pokemon a chance to hatch.

Onee I realized I was considering leaving a half-hour early so I could install a lure module in the Marine Building PokeStop, I knew it was time to draw the line.

Making allowances

Making allowances published on No Comments on Making allowancesPurchase print

“Here’s your allowance: 150 lucky coins for Angry Birds Epic, 10 jewels for Playmobil Pirates, and a box of keys for Farmville. Oh, and a ten-dollar bill.” Kid stares at ten-dollar bill: “What the heck do I do with this?”

Okay, we’re not quite there yet. But I give it five years before you start hearing business updates on the news about how Gems are trading against Gold Coins.

💰

I drew this and six other cartoons about parents, kids and tech for Alexandra Samuel’s session at SXSW 2016, The Myth of the Family Tech Market. It’s based on her two-year study of how more than 10,000 North American parents manage their kids’ interactions with digital technology.

Find out more about Alex’s work around digital parenting here.

Drop the Playstation Vita and back away

Drop the Playstation Vita and back away published on No Comments on Drop the Playstation Vita and back awayPurchase print

It’s amazing the stuff that gets into your house despite your best efforts to shape the influences in your kids’ lives. Barbies. Disney. Pokémon. Tambourines.

When my kids were younger, the main vector was well-meaning relatives giving presents. But now that they have a social circle, it’s their friends who act as the conduit for all that’s awful, counter to our values or just unhelpful. Thanks for bringing that Nintendo 3DS over, Miles. Thanks a crapload.

And the truth is, you can’t shield your kids completely, and you can’t shield them forever. Your best, most durable hope is to instill strong values and foster a rapier capacity for media criticism.

And maybe install one of those TSA body scanners at your front door.

🚨

I drew this and six other cartoons about parents, kids and tech for Alexandra Samuel’s session at SXSW 2016, The Myth of the Family Tech Market. It’s based on her two-year study of how more than 10,000 North American parents manage their kids’ interactions with digital technology.

Find out more about Alex’s work around digital parenting here.

Would you code it in the rain? Would you code it on a train?

Would you code it in the rain? Would you code it on a train? published on No Comments on Would you code it in the rain? Would you code it on a train?Purchase print

Commodore PETI love the mania today for teaching kids to code. I’m glad it’s a lot easier than it was when I first started stringing commands together.

When computers (in the form of the venerable Commodore PET) first came to Gloucester High School, I got the impression most of my teachers were scrambling to stay ahead of the geekier students, learning various BASIC commands a few days (or hours) before the more highly-motivated among us did.

I mostly learned it on my own time: staying very late at the school, worrying the hell out of my parents, entering line after line of code from magazines, and then tinkering with it to see what would change. Nearly everyone I know thought it was a little freakish of me. But something about this seemed incredibly compelling, even important—despite the fact that mostly what I was keying in were instructions for playing Hammurabi (“I beg to report to you, in the year 3, 0 people starved, 6 came to the city…”).

But something sticks with me from my Grade 10 Informatics class: a transparency my teacher threw onto the overhead projector that read “The man who knows how will have a job. The man who knows why will be his boss.”

(Okay, two things stick with me, and one of them is just how casual the exclusion of women from language was when I was a kid. )

Coding is very much a how activity. And I think it’s good to get some of that knowledge under your belt, and to understand the core concepts beneath it. If you’re into it, great; go a lot further.

But as Jeff Atwood wrote a few months ago, people drive cars all the time without knowing how fuel injection works; “By teaching low-level coding, I worry that we are effectively teaching our children the art of automobile repair.”

Learning to talk to the computer is the easiest part. Computers, for better or worse, do exactly what you tell them to do, every time, in exactly the same way. The people – well . . . you’ll spend the rest of your life figuring that out. And from my perspective, the sooner you start, the better.

I want my children to understand how the Internet works. But this depends more on their acquisition of higher-order thinking than it does their understanding if ones and zeroes. It is essential that they that treat everything they read online critically. Where did that Wikipedia page come from? Who wrote it? What is their background? What are their sources?

Learn to investigate. Be critical. Don’t just accept opinions you saw on Facebook or some random web page. Ask for credible data, facts and science.

That, to my mind, helps to get at the why. And with all due respect to my Informatics teacher, that goes a lot further than who gets the corner office. It’s part of being a citizen: not just in the formal sense, and not even just in the civic sense, but in the sense of someone who participates in the world around them – on- and offline – and helps in some small way to shape it.

Teaching our kids about variable scope in Java? That helps them become programmers. Helping them with the “why” – that helps them become adults.

(Photograph by Rama, Wikimedia Commons, Cc-by-sa-2.0-fr)

⌨️

I drew this and six other cartoons about parents, kids and tech for Alexandra Samuel’s session at SXSW 2016, The Myth of the Family Tech Market. It’s based on her two-year study of how more than 10,000 North American parents manage their kids’ interactions with digital technology.

Find out more about Alex’s work around digital parenting here.

+3 charisma, +5 combat, -4 academics

+3 charisma, +5 combat, -4 academics published on No Comments on +3 charisma, +5 combat, -4 academicsPurchase print

When you think about it, doesn’t a really effective guild leader have many of the skills and attributes a good college or university ought to be looking for?

BTW, as I was devising witty banter about how the character sheet should become the new academic transcript, I came across two actual cases of video-gaming scholarships. Okay, so eSports are no threat to the supremacy of the football or basketball scholarship yet. That day could come.

And when it does, I hope it has absolutely nothing to do with the NCAA.

🏈

I drew this and six other cartoons about parents, kids and tech for Alexandra Samuel’s session at SXSW 2016, The Myth of the Family Tech Market. It’s based on her two-year study of how more than 10,000 North American parents manage their kids’ interactions with digital technology.

Find out more about Alex’s work around digital parenting here.

Grounded

Grounded published on No Comments on GroundedPurchase print

There’s a lot of debate, for good reasons, around imposing consequences when kids’ behaviour doesn’t meet parents’ expectations. And when it comes to restricting their access to digital tech, there’s an added wrinkle: our kids may be able to circumvent them.

Sometimes it’s ingenuity on their part. Necessity is the mother of invention, and heaven help the obstacles placed between a child and their Minecraft time. Sometimes it’s just parental sleep-deprivation-induced stupidity… like the time I muttered my iPhone passcode out loud while unlocking the device for my son.

But I can already see that a third factor will soon come into play: the kids just plain knowing more than I do. This whole push to teach kids to code sounds like a great idea until your child roots your laptop from their Speak ‘n’ Spell.

I know, I know: we’re all supposed to be raising our kids in rural communes, and the only “devices” they should ever need are a butter churn and a sheep shear. But I’m more from the parenting school where the only response I expect to “Fetch me the switch” is “16- or 24-port?”

🔐

I drew this and six other cartoons about parents, kids and tech for Alexandra Samuel’s session at SXSW 2016, The Myth of the Family Tech Market. It’s based on her two-year study of how more than 10,000 North American parents manage their kids’ interactions with digital technology.

Find out more about Alex’s work around digital parenting here.

And once you add in our 14-year-old’s ransomware revenue…

And once you add in our 14-year-old’s ransomware revenue… published on No Comments on And once you add in our 14-year-old’s ransomware revenue…Purchase print

Maybe the new “My child is an honour student” bumper sticker reads “My kid charted in the App Store’s Lifestyle category”.

And maybe the new RRSP (or “IRA” for my American friends) is investing in coding lessons for your kids in the hopes that their royalties will allow you to retire sometime before the age of 80.

🤑

I drew this and six other cartoons about parents, kids and tech for Alexandra Samuel’s session at SXSW 2016, The Myth of the Family Tech Market. It’s based on her two-year study of how more than 10,000 North American parents manage their kids’ interactions with digital technology.

Find out more about Alex’s work around digital parenting here.

(parent to child) Sure, it starts with having your own phone. But soon you're on 4chan, playing the Knockout Game and recruiting other kids for ISIS.

Even worse, it leads to in-app purchases

Even worse, it leads to in-app purchases published on No Comments on Even worse, it leads to in-app purchases

Skim the media headlines, and there seem to be only two possibilities when it comes to parents, kids and technology. Either

  1. Parents should shield their kids from all screens until the age of 30, lest they become distracted, lazy and incapable of forming memories more complex than a 140-character message. Or,
  2. Learning to code will solve everything from youth homelessness to the mumps.

(Bonus points if you can find a writer whose byline has appeared under both kinds of headline.)

The myth of the Family Tech MarketMy wife Alexandra Samuel has studied the way parents tackle their kids’ relationship with technology over several years now. Her two-year study of more than 10,000 North American parents has some fascinating findings that she covered at South by Southwest, in a session dubbed The Myth of the Family Tech Market.

Alex has found that parents tend to fall into one of three broad groups: limiters, who try to minimize their kids’ use of technology; enablers, who give their kids more or less free rein when it comes to screens and devices; and mentors, who take an active role in guiding their kids onto the Internet. (Here’s a handy overview.)

I drew seven new cartoons about parenting in the digital age for her presentation. Drawing is easy; digital parenting is hard &emdash; we’ve found it tremendously challenging with our own kids. Parents have to sift through mountains of wildly conflicting opinions, suggestions, warnings and prescriptions. And there are plenty of people ready to condemn you loudly and publicly for whatever technology choices you end up making.

So I hope it’s clear these cartoons are meant with a lot of love. Parents are making hard choices every day based on incomplete information, being pulled in eighty different directions by people trying to sell them a product, a service or an ideology… and we’re expected to do it with confidence and certainty.

The truth is, confidence is in scarce supply and certainty is just plain dangerous. We’re all stumbling through this, and a little compassion and mutual respect around conflicting choices will go a long way.

(frustrated parent to teen in kitchen) We've given you every opportunity a kid could want. But have you had even ONE breakout viral hit?"

Pull your weight, kid.

Pull your weight, kid. published on No Comments on Pull your weight, kid.

Let’s be honest. Kids are a pretty big drain economically for the first two decades or so of their lives. It’s the main reason to live well past the age of infirmity: recouping some of that investment.

Someday soon, I’m going to write a guide to the social-media-optimized family, the one geared to maximizing your revenue stream in today’s fast-moving online world. And I’ll spill all my tips: tying allowance to Klout scores, for instance, and how to gently tell an underperformer that they have to either meet this quarter’s targets or find a new family.

BA, MA, PhD, DNA

BA, MA, PhD, DNA published on 4 Comments on BA, MA, PhD, DNA

I’m a few years away from having to see one of my kids leave home for college or university for the first time. So at the moment, it’s still an abstract thing.

But it’s coming, this thing where they grow up and move out, it’s coming like a bullet train, and it’ll be here before I know it. And as proud and excited as I’ll be, I know it’ll hurt like hell.

So: parents who are saying goodbye this week to your kids for the next year… this cartoon’s for you.

By the way, it was a tossup at my end between this caption and the one below. Big thanks to the NtoS Facebook posse for helping me choose!

2014.08.24.crapload-of-bandwidth

(grandfather to dad, who is using a tablet while his daughter plays on the floor) In my day, if you wanted to be emotionally unavailable to your children, you did it the old-fashioned way - with a good book or a newspaper.

Your childhood is important to us. Please remain on the line, and a parent will be with you shortly.

Your childhood is important to us. Please remain on the line, and a parent will be with you shortly. published on No Comments on Your childhood is important to us. Please remain on the line, and a parent will be with you shortly.

I see a lot of parent-shaming going on over mobile devices. The narrative goes that we’re updating Facebook, playing Candy Crush or seeing who’s checked out our fake Tinder profiles that we created just to salve our egos, except it’s backfired horribly and confirmed every fear we ever had about our own attractiveness (no? just me, huh?) — and meanwhile our children are tugging our pantlegs and whimpering “But daddy, dinnertime was seven hours ago. I’m sooooo hungry and the guinea pig’s starting to smell really tasty.”

I have moments I’m not especially proud of. But I also have a memory of my own parents and, loving though they were, they had their own ways to lower the Cone of Silence.

See, when it comes to child-ignoring technology, digital devices are strictly the new neglected kids on the block. As a parent, I represent a proud tradition of burying your nose in whatever’s handy: crosswords, the newspaper (“But honey, I hate sports!” “Shh! And don’t look up — you’ll make eye contact, and then we’re screwed!”), television, novels, the undersides of jalopies, papal bulls or cave paintings. (“Aw, that sabre-tooth tiger wants cheezburger.”)

It’s not all self-indulgence; sanity demands some alone time, and kids do need to learn a little emotional self-reliance.

But there’s a price to pay. While I’m writing this, I can’t help but think of how much I wish I was with my kids right now – joking with them, enjoying their laughter, loving each others’ company. I forget the moments of exasperation, the stress, the need to be alone with my thoughts now and then. (That’s one reason why parent-shaming works: it’s a reminder of the opportunity cost of everything we do, and it preys on our tendency to look at that opportunity cost in only one direction.)

The issue, as with so many things, is striking a balance. And being, if not comfortable, then at least at peace with knowing that means some frustration for everyone.

Also, putting a good child-proof lock on the guinea pig’s cage.

This is way above your pay grade

This is way above your pay grade published on No Comments on This is way above your pay grade

I don’t know why I’m as captivated as I am by the language of spy movies, books and TV shows. But whether it’s the euphemisms in a George Smiley story or the verbal tics of Elizabeth, Philip, Stan and the occupants of the Rezidentura, I eat that stuff up.

* * *

I never got this briefing. Instead, I stumbled on The Conspiracy when I was nine years old by seeing a present (the game Battleship) hidden on a shelf in early December… and then receiving it from Santa on Christmas Day. I didn’t talk to my parents about it until months later.

In retrospect, the explanation that might have worked is that Santa stows gifts above a certain size at children’s homes, because there’s only so much room in the sleigh.

Oh my god, she IS ours!

Oh my god, she IS ours! published on 4 Comments on Oh my god, she IS ours!

This cartoon took more than 10 years to make. An evening of drawing, some time to fine-tune the caption, and a decade to create the daughter who came up with the idea. I’ve tweaked it a little so I wouldn’t be a total plagiarist, but you ought to know that this cartoon is really by Little Sweetie.

She’s already far enough ahead of me in Doctor Who that she’s now explaining some of the finer plot points to me when I join her for an episode. She’s reading webcomics and science fiction books, correcting my Star Trek: The Next Generation references and suggesting graphic novels to me.

Any of you parents out there, have you had the same experience of delighting in the way your kids enjoy some of the same things you did, while being in complete awe of their unique take on it?

Parent to kids: Classic Plus-level children will come to dinner now. Prestige Super Medallion and Executive Diamond-level children may have another five minutes of TV.

A few years ago, they had a “frequent cryer” program

A few years ago, they had a “frequent cryer” program published on No Comments on A few years ago, they had a “frequent cryer” program

Happy New Year, amigas and amigos!

It’s been a few weeks, but Noise to Signal has returned from mid-season hiatus. If you’re just joining us, here’s what you missed from last episode’s exciting cliff-hanger:

Dietrich revealed to Melanie that he, not Colin, stole the launch codes from The Dervish’s courier. The Cloaked Figure (or was it?!) overheard their conversation and repeated it to Central – where double agent Candace quietly shredded his report (or did she?!) so the extraction team would go in unaware of their true mission. That triggered Erin’s long-dreaded transformation, and as Mayor Subramaniam pondered a city-wide evacuation, the Violet and Yellow Teams suddenly changed course… and Codename Spanakopita’s final plan became apparent to all. Except he had one more trick up each of his three sleeves.

We pack a lot into one panel.

 

But “Pin the Tail on the Genius” will get you kicked out.

But “Pin the Tail on the Genius” will get you kicked out. published on No Comments on But “Pin the Tail on the Genius” will get you kicked out.

My wife and Social Signal co-conspirator Alex turned 40 last week… and, fittingly, spent a lot of the day in an Apple Store:

When May 5th arrived, we dropped the kids at school and headed directly to the mall. I was directed to a blue-shirted Apple staffer and handed over my shattered iPhone.

….By the time we left, we’d been in the Apple store for a couple of hours and knew the names, ages, blogging platforms and career aspirations of half the staff.

That’s just the beginning of a tale of crime, heartache and adhesive protective film that will have you hugging your iDevices close to you. Go read.

…and share alike.

…and share alike. published on No Comments on …and share alike.

Originally published on ReadWriteWeb with “mastodon” misspelled.

Past generations would be utterly baffled by some of the challenges parents and kids face today.

True, we don’t have to write notes to school like “Dear teacher, Monique won’t be attending classes today because our entire village was wiped out by the Black Plague,” or arrange birthday parties at the mastodon petting zoo without the benefit of Evite or Facebook Events.

But technological advances bring their own unique issues to contend with. Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations never had to wonder whether to tweet that cute thing their kid just said, or if they should ask permission first. They never had to worry about their kids’ privacy when half their peers are sharing smartphone photos on Facebook and videos on YouTube. They never had to vet hula hoops and Monopoly games for adult content, security issues or in-app purchases.

In short, sure: maybe they walked to school uphill both ways through three feet of snow nine days a week. But they didn’t have a peer group expecting them to check in on Foursquare when they got there.

Mmm… (redacted)

Mmm… (redacted) published on No Comments on Mmm… (redacted)

I’m trying to resist. But there are peanut butter cups and Coffee Crisps literally screaming my name from inside the cupboard. Forgive me if I prove too weak, kids.

(Well, technically, if I prove too weak again. For the third time today.)

And since we’re talking about Hallowe’en, check out Little Sweetie’s costume (complete with theme song!) this year.

Gifted

Gifted published on 1 Comment on Gifted

With such a narrow finish, I couldn’t just leave the other caption in the closet, never to see the light of day again. (Especially if it might be useful for someone’s blog post or PowerPoint presentation.) So here’s the alternate version; it also happens to be the one I was thinking of when I first drew the cartoon.

Bet she’ll be the only “Replica Rolex” in her class

Bet she’ll be the only “Replica Rolex” in her class published on No Comments on Bet she’ll be the only “Replica Rolex” in her class

Torn between two captions,
feeling like a fool…

The people of the Internet have spoken, and by the absolute narrowest of margins – 43 votes to 42 – you’ve chosen this caption for the cartoon. (Should this caption be unable for any reason to fulfill its duties, the other caption will serve in its place.)

This cartoon ran on ReadWriteWeb on the weekend, where I wrote this:

There seem to be two poles of opinion in the SEO world around content. At one pole, you optimize everything you do within an inch of its life: writing headlines and structuring copy to engage search engine algorithms rather than human imaginations. You frame your content and choose your topics with a view to linkbait instead of what really charges your passions, and you track metrics and prune away less productive activity ruthlessly.

On the other pole, you may be no less attuned to metrics than your counterparts at the other end of the spectrum, but you direct your focus to creating great, engaging content and building a community around it. Here, you’re counting less on talking directly to search engines and more on creating the kind of traffic and organic linking activity that will drive up your rankings.

And then, of course, there are points in between where you do some of each. But there’s no question that there’s a tension between writing for search engines and creating a distinctive, authentic voice of your own.

Now, I can find advice anywhere along that spectrum with no difficulty. (It’s no surprise that people who do SEO for a living don’t find it hard to make their content visible.) And I can find vocal, often heated arguments and very strong opinions.

What I can’t find is hard data on which approach works better, and where the sweet spot lies. I imagine apples-to-apples comparisons would be hard to do, but that information would be pretty valuable. I have my preferences – I like a Web of communities and genuine voices, and I’d find pushing the ruthless-linkbait-and-keyword approach soul-destroying – and my instincts about what I’d like to believe works better, but that’s just me.

Anyone out there find anything tangible?

Also, doesn’t plug-and-play well with others

Also, doesn’t plug-and-play well with others published on 4 Comments on Also, doesn’t plug-and-play well with others

You want to sound smart next time you’re at a tech demo? Learn to ask this question, “Yes, but does it scale?” Try to arch your eyebrows just a bit, so that you look skeptical but perhaps also hopeful.

If they answer yes, and start talking in technical language way over your head, you say: “I’ll be interested in seeing that play out under real-world conditions.”

If they say, “How do you mean?”, you say: “I think you’ve just answered my question.” (Then spin on your heel and get out. No further conversation can possibly go well at this point.)

Go straight to your chat room, young lady!

Go straight to your chat room, young lady! published on No Comments on Go straight to your chat room, young lady!

As a parent, I’m dazzled by the range of entertainment options my kids and I have. From the educational (I swear!) shows we have loaded up on PVR, to the educational (really!) kids’ apps on our iPhones, to the not-even-a-little-educational clips we watch on YouTube, we could easily while away every hour in a digital haze.

But there’s this whole other world out there of face-to-face interaction, fresh air, exercise and – loath though our children’s parents are to admit it – sleep. And when the time comes to power down the Wii and say goodbye to MySims Agents for another day, tantrums sometimes ensue… and the almighty power of parental discipline has to come into play.

Sometimes just counting sternly to five will do the job. Sometimes something more stringent is called for – like shelving a game for a few days. And sometimes, well, sometimes we’re groping for solutions, like generations of parents before us.

At least for the next few years, Alex and I are in the enviable position of knowing the tech better than our kids do. (We’re reasonably sure than when our then-two-year-old son locked Alex out of her iPhone, and created a ghost partition on our home server, it was random button-pressing at work.) Ask me in another decade, and you may hear a much different story.

With that, let me wish a very happy first birthday to my favourite budding little pair-coding team in the world, and to their parents who could single-handedly make geeky look cool (to me, anyway) all over again.

Know your rights!

Know your rights! published on 1 Comment on Know your rights!

Maybe I was lucky enough to fall into some demographic trough, but I was usually the only “Rob” in my classes at school.

Kindred spirits

Kindred spirits published on No Comments on Kindred spirits

This cartoon is in support of my ongoing campaign to be allowed to declare our Macs as dependents for tax purposes. Won’t you lend your voice in support?

Nag screen

Nag screen published on No Comments on Nag screen

‘Tis the season and all that, and this time of year I find myself thinking a lot about my parents. This is exactly the sort of thing they’d have said (if my childhood had been, oh, 20 or 30 years later), and it would have driven me CRA-ZEE.

Funny thing: It’s also exactly the sort of thing I find myself saying to my own kids.

And speaking of ’tis the season, thanks and all the best to all of you who’ve read, tweeted, forwarded and commented on Noise to Signal this year. Have a great holiday if you’re celebrating, and just have a lovely week or two if you aren’t.

Maybe your daycare can hold a tweetup

Maybe your daycare can hold a tweetup published on No Comments on Maybe your daycare can hold a tweetup

I suspect there’s more than a little of this guy in me.

My spirituality, in a nutshell

My spirituality, in a nutshell published on No Comments on My spirituality, in a nutshell

(man using mobile phone in hospital, to partner who is in labor) Check it out, honey! Twitter 'replies' now include 'mentions'!

The real reason they don’t allow cell phones in hospitals

The real reason they don’t allow cell phones in hospitals published on No Comments on The real reason they don’t allow cell phones in hospitals

At least check in somewhere

At least check in somewhere published on 1 Comment on At least check in somewhere

Updated October 2010: It hadn’t occurred to me when I drew this (because location-aware apps weren’t really a thing yet) but Foursquare’s killer feature may actually end up being its ability to reassure parents.

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