I’ve been using the Scratch forum a lot lately and find it both educational and perplexing. The main factor here is that most of the forum users are at least half my age, if not younger.

It’s educational in terms of being able to talk directly to younger people and see how they react to being treated like little adults. The perplexing bit comes in when seeing how well behaved they seem to be.

They avoid using (or actively self-censor) words like “damn” and “hell” (words that at their age I wouldn’t even have considered swear words!).

They respect forums that require them to be over 13 (things that technically require COPAA forms to be submitted).

They’re polite in an oddly naive way.

I find this a little harder to handle than other interactions online because I want to do my best to teach without upsetting. I don’t want to be the creepy dude that tells them that life isn’t a nice place and tries to scare them.

Of course wanting to educate does mean mentioning things that may be new and potentially difficult for them. One of the primary things I want them to understand is that grown ups can be fun too. At their age anyone my age might as well have been from Neptune!

Back then there was nothing like easily accessible forums that anyone, any age could use. If they weren’t a family member or tasked with supervising us then they basically didn’t exist in my world. Adults were all older with long established lifestyles and careers.

The idea here being to show them a glimpse at what yesterday’s post dealt with – life doesn’t have to be a stiff and serious slog towards retirement. It might not always be easy but there’s lots of fun to be had if one doesn’t let that part of oneself die.

Teenagers are in the process of having their corners rounded off by the tide of society. Younger children are somewhat shielded from that and still have that spark. I hope I can encourage more of them to keep that spirit alive well past their teen years.

I’ll close by saying this: Father Christmas may not be real but on Thursday you bet I’ll be talking like I’m from Somerset.

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