Conferences with childcare

Posted by Cristian Livadaru on Saturday, July 29, 2023

Conferences with childcare

During my visit to the We Are Developers conference in Berlin I noticed only 3 Kids in total there. This might seem understandable since conferences might not be the most entertaining places for children. But why? What if we could have childcare at conferences? I only read about such a conference one time but have never actually seen childcare at conferences myself. There was a very interesting episode on the Darknet Diaries Podcast, someone with enough energy and courage to take a kid to the conference got the chance to participate in a social engineering competition and nailed it, she later made a career in the Infosec field. What would have happened, if like most people, she wouldn’t have had the energy to take her kid along. I for one know I would not have the energy to take care of my kids while also attending any talks, let alone a competition. Now if you think about this, how many lost chances are out there? People, who don’t attend conferences or events like these because of lack of childcare. Even with childcare, it’s challenging to travel for just a few days to conferences, and if they already go to school it might be even impossible since they can’t miss school, but it would give a lot of people new opportunities and it could be fun for the kids as well. If you think about it, this will be the next generation so why not start educating them early? Doesn’t matter if they will work in IT or not, sparking their interest early is never wrong and in this digital world we live in there’s no harm in knowing how these things work. I can of course only speak from the standpoint of someone attending IT conferences, and I can imagine a few interesting conferences could offer for children.

Activities for Developer conferences

On Developer conferences, one could offer:

  • Coding dojos for children
  • Scratch playgrounds combined with robots programmed into Scratch
  • Digital basics and how to deal with social media. This topic is huge and will cause a lot of harm to future generations. Most parents are not equipped to deal with it, schools teach them much too late and kids already show up in first grade with a smartphone and all kinds of social media apps on them. An 8-year-old should not have TikTok on their phone.
  • Basics in digital privacy, like dealing with accounts, and why sharing personal data isn’t a good idea. This should be made fun for kids but it’s essential to get them on board early.
  • Quiz Rallye, my eldest daughter loves these. Give her a paper with questions and she’ll be all over the place researching the answers.
  • For older ones, code some mini app doing something fun, deploy it, and have it interact with the conference environment.
  • I’m sure there are many many more activities one could come up with.

Activities for Infosec conferences

  • Lock-picking workshops! Definitely a lock-picking workshop. This might not seem child appropriate at first, but why not? Teach them that things can be broken, this might lead to the next generation of locks that are more secure, who knows what ideas these small things will spark in the future.
  • Capture the flag. Similar to the quiz Rallye mentioned above, this could also be done in a CTF fashion. Of course, it should be something simple that kids could complete without having to read PCAP traces.
  • Hack the Conference app and annoy their parents from the app. This would be really fun for kids!

This only scratches the surface and requires more thinking and planning but it’s nothing that is impossible and I’m sure I’m not alone in this and would really love to bring my kids along to conferences if they take place during school holidays. I would actually take this idea even a bit further and offer child care for free! A lot of people expect the next generation to solve the problems we caused, which is an insane thought so let’s not even go down that rabbit hole. Even if we don’t expect them to solve the problems we created, it’s definitely not their job, the burden of getting the kids there can’t be dropped to 100% on the parents while expecting them to also have a career, time for personal growth and even do some social work to help the community. Sometimes kids just need a spark and in this world full of content they can and will find the information they need to go further.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash