The Geeky Parent Guide is happy to bring you an interview with Kate Moore from the Geek Girls Society, as she shares her insight into accepting fandoms - our own and others - and how to engage with your kids in that world, including their first convention. Also, stay tuned after the interview for a few examples of family friendly activities being hosted at upcoming conventions.
Geeky Parent Guide: As the head of Geek Girls Society and Geek Girls Forever, what are some elements for parents to know about these organizations that will help their children understand the importance of respecting each other and their fandoms?
Kate Moore: Both organizations began out of the need for geeky people to find each other and socialize in person.
The internet can be a scary place, but it has such a prevalence in our society that children and young adults seek it out without fully understanding cyber-bullying and internet trolling. Geek Girls Society allows them to interact face to face in an environment that stresses that all fandoms are good, whether you personally like them or not. And you don’t have to like everything. That’s okay, too.
Geek Girls Forever was a natural progression, as women heard about Geek Girls Society and wanted something similar in their own lives. Geek Girls Forever is as much fandom driven as it is about pop culture, politics, etc. It’s a very open-minded organization with members spanning both sexes and several decades of ages.
The most common question I get for either organization is “Am I geeky enough to be a member?” The answer is always a resounding YES! A fan is a fan is a fan, whether you have seen one episode of a TV show, a snippet of a movie, or read one comic or book about it, all the way to people who immerse themselves in watching everything, reading everything, and buying everything related to their fandom.
GPG: Making sure “Geek Girls always respects herself, shows respect for other geeks and their fandoms, and celebrates her fandoms with joy, pride, and passion” is at the core of Geek Girls Society. How does this translate to young kids, and their parents, as they prepare for their very first convention?
KM: Geek Girls Society members are always learning about other fandoms, from other members, class mates, family, YouTube, etc. As these are brought up at meetings, we will talk about age appropriate-ness, which is ultimately the parent(s)’ decision, and similar fandoms that people may enjoy. There is a lot of content out there, and it’s always great to see the girls become new fans of something they never knew existed.
We also discuss whether you can age out of a fandom. There can often be pressure in school or from peers to stop liking certain fandoms as the girls get older. The overall thing we emphasize in Geek Girls Society is that if you are a fan of something, you can never be too old. There are plenty of adults out there that are still fans of things from their childhood.
For parents, it is important for them to have a general idea of what their children are watching, reading, etc. There is a lot of adult content out there that may not be appropriate for their 8-year-old, 12-year-old, 14-year-old… And parents shouldn’t have to feel that they have to become a fan of everything their child is, as well. Knowing it exists and encouraging their child’s interest is enough. Although the parent might become a fan, as well, along the way!
GPG: What recommendations would you give to parents to help them provide a safe and comfortable environment for their child's first convention, including their outfit, what they should expect with other outfits/costumes, and how to approach conversations they might have regarding scary characters or costumes that aren’t familiar to the child or parent?
KM: Conventions are very adult driven, so parents need to understand they will probably see things that they don’t consider appropriate in their households. Often times, this can be a simple discussion with their child about age and what they consider okay or not okay.
Parents should be aware of things that their child may be afraid of, so they can steer them in another direction or encourage another activity for them to go to.
If their child wants to dress up (cosplay) for their convention, that’s great. Parents don’t have to spend a ton of money for them to make a costume, and the creativity and pride the child puts into making the costume is usually worth it in the end. Parents should be mindful of space, temperature, and comfort when their child is putting together a costume. Conventions are usually crowded, and one is usually there for several hours, so you don’t want them to wear something that is really hot or uncomfortable, as it will eventually become unmanageable.
And costumed fans usually love taking pictures with other costumed fans, irregardless of being complete strangers. Just remember to ask before you take the picture!
Going to a convention is supposed to be FUN, so that might mean you can’t be there the whole day, or maybe you need to plan some midday downtime.
And you may not be aware of everything you have seen or every costume someone is wearing, but it is always okay to ask what “it” is!
GPG: What are some of your favorite experiences you’ve had with kids attending their first conventions? Do any of these moments include parent reactions or family cosplay?
KM: While I don’t have children myself, it is great to see whole families in cosplay. It is something else for the family to bond over. Whether one person in the family makes everyone’s costume or everyone has their own say and input, it unites them at the show.
It is always fun to see fans young and old bond on the show floor by taking pictures or complimenting one another’s designs or discussing how they made said costume.
GPG: How would you describe the experience of becoming a Geek Girl, how parents might utilize this beyond a first convention, and how these lessons can translate beyond the world of pop culture?
KM: First off, anyone can be deemed a geek. In Geek Girls Society and Geek Girls Forever, we use it as a positive term to describe ourselves. One doesn’t have to pass any sort of test to prove they are a fan. Both organizations encourage members to talk about their fandoms, so others can decide if that is something they would be interested in, as well. At the same time, we don’t speak badly about things we as individuals aren’t fans of.
The respect we emphasize a lot in Geek Girls Society ultimately makes members more compassionate, understanding individuals.
Parents should stay aware of what their children are fans of, and this may change a lot as their child ages. Ultimately, they have to decide what they deem okay for their child to watch, read, etc.
As a parent, wondering about the right path for letting kids see all of the elements at any given convention might make it easier to just say, “maybe next year.” It’s a very daunting task to know when your kids should see all of the sights and sounds, some of which might be scary or craftily dressed down. Cosplay is amazing to see, because you know some people put an enormous amount of time into their character, and the end results can be stunning to see. As a parent, you might wonder when is it appropriate for your son or daughter to see a man dressed as Tarzan, in only a loin cloth. I take that back, there may have been a necklace, too. When is the right time to see half-naked characters or perhaps incredibly large, outstanding versions of Transformers? Perhaps the size of a character will be intimidating or perhaps a team of friends join forces to become Point Break, and the masks are too scary.
Every kid is different, and every kid’s reaction will be different to each and every thing. Do I have the right answer? No. I’m still wondering when it’s okay to bring kids to an event I find entertaining with information panels, colorful artwork, tons and tons of comic books, and, of course, the intricate details that come along with cosplaying; however, let’s figure out some optimal ways for kids to discover such fun experiences, while possibly avoiding the overwhelming discomfort that kids might experience with large groups and new, strange costumes.
Let’s take a look at how conventions are gearing some of their fun toward families:
C2E2 (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo)
This past year, Family HQ combined interactive play with workshop zones, with opportunities for “Blaster Training” to be a Stormtrooper, “Storytime and Activities for the Geeky” where little ones listened to geeky stories, tried their hand at a Vulcan salute, or learned how to make cool crafts, and even learned how to play Quidditch from the wonderful world of Harry Potter.
NYCC (New York Comic Con)
Although this coming October’s schedule hasn’t been released, the previous year saw several activities at their Family HQ, including Harry Potter trivia and free face painting based off of famous superheroes.
SDCC (San Diego Comic-Con)
Last year, the San Diego International Children’s Film Festival presented short films, live action and animated, that are “good for all ages.”
When did you take your kids to their first convention? What was their experience like, and did the experience make you want to do it again? Please share your comments below, like and rate this page, and share this with all of your friends who might enjoy learning about Geek Girls Society and convention talk.
A big thanks to Kate Moore for taking time to share her insights with the GPG, and if you want to find out more about Geek Girls Society and Geek Girls Forever, check them out on their websites, www.geekgirlssociety.com and www.geekgirlsforever.com.
Next time on the GPG, we’ll be discussing aquariums and what you should expect to find at different locations.
Until then, happy parenting and happy geeking.