It was only one year ago when Candace Temple’s 14-year-old daughter, Mya Parker was given her first NFT. Eight months, dozens of daughter-mother chats, and over $10,000 in sales later, she is sitting at web3 superconference, Veecon, meeting her daughter’s supporters, many of which are holders of Mya’s collection.
Raising The Next Generation of Web3: Meet the Parents Who are Building Tomorrow’s Builders
At the same time, Mya was likely roaming the U.S. Bank Stadium floor and strategically planning her next celebrity selfie with fellow web3 content creator, podcaster, and teenager, Benjamin Wong.
Ben, 15, who cites himself in his social media as a CEO, Giving Tuesday leader, humanitarian, and one that is “building those who build the future,” ended up going stag to the event.
“He invited me and I wanted to go but I thought it would be a more valuable experience for him to go on his own with his friends,” shares Ben’s mother, Sylvia Tam.
In a time where social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are routinely vilified in the media and virtual communities and prolonged screen time are commonly demonized by parents at the PTA meetings or (ironically) in Facebook parent groups, it comes as no surprise that Sylvia was in the minority letting her son fly alone to a conference with 7000 other essential strangers from the internet.
Through daily conversations with her son, Sylvia is quickly learning that NFTs are a technology that is changing so many facets of society, but perhaps changing the way communities and relationships are made. “He’s been going out and meeting people through that network.” she noted. “Even though they don’t know each other, I feel like it’s safe because it’s in the community (of Veefriends) and they’re his friends he communicates with everyday.”
“I felt comfortable,” says Candace of her experience at the conference. “It felt good to see the types of people that she’s being surrounded with. It gave me peace knowing that these are the people she is communicating with and that this is the community that she is involved with,” she added.
Naturally, not all web3 communities and friend circles are created equal. So what is a parent to do?
How is one expected to give up the wifi password and let their children explore all of the opportunities, education, resources, and potential friendships that the internet and the blockchain have to offer while being mindful of the potential pitfalls?
According to Candace and Sylvia, the key is open communication, patience, and trust.
“The most important thing is to keep the relationship strong. I never want to use technology as a weapon. Instead, keep conversations open and ongoing.” says Sylvia, who was inspired by her son to start a podcast to support Mompreneurs raising Kidpreneurs.
“We have a lot of conversations about life and different things in general all of the time,” noted Temple. “What I try to do with my kids is just instill in them different morals and values, and talk to them about character and faith. Because I know that is what I’m instilling in them everyday, I’m able to give them a little more freedom to explore and do different things when I’m not over their shoulders all the time.”
Both parents acknowledged the reality of angst of “not knowing” what their teen is doing online and who they’re doing it with. “As a parent you should try to prevent yourself from disciplining through screen time. Don’t allow it (technology) to become something that turns on everyone’s red flags. It’s a learning process and takes some time,” Sylvia adds.
“Whether it’s at school or somewhere else, they are going to be exposed to this stuff online. It is better to allow them some freedom and still monitor things and have conversations about life. It is better to get ahead of it and talk to them about it,” Candace notes.
Sylvia, who also has two other teenagers, also shares that as adults, parents should exercise some self-awareness and reflect on their own behaviors. “We as parents are very much on digital (devices) so we portray what they will see as the way to be.”
With these young ambassadors to web3, the freedom and open conversations appear to be working. In conversations, both teens exude an extraordinary sense of wisdom, confidence, and genuine happiness while speaking about the projects they have built, but perhaps more so in the drive and determination they have to leverage the education, resources, and relationships that they’ve acquired through social media and web3 and make the world a better place.
Both Mya and Ben continue to spread their wisdom, alpha, and positivity among their respective communities and on their podcast platforms attracting more like-minded, young people to do good in the space.
Lately, they have been getting the attention of people that are old enough to vote.
Mya was recently featured in one of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Instagram reels titled, “When you get it, you fucking get it.”
“She gets it,” the Veefriends creator laughs at the end of his short recorded interaction with her.
Furthermore, on 8/6/22, the president of VeeFriends, Andy Krainak, tweeted out, “Ben is cool. @b3nwong.” Though there was no context, getting virtually co-signed by a president of any NFT community is not a common occurrence for anyone, let alone a 15-year old.
Time will tell what Mya, Ben, and countless others will go on to create and build in the web3 space. The technologies, tools, and roadmaps are changing rapidly but the one thing that appears to be consistent is their support from home. The support to learn, the support to follow their curiosities, and the support to be themselves wherever they are spending their time.
Sylvia Tam and Candace Temple obviously don’t have all the answers. No parent does. But as more and more parents get onboarded in the upcoming years, the results that their parenting has produced shouldn’t be ignored, and is something that many would be proud of. Inspiring art, thought-provoking podcasts, philanthropy, and an abundance of rhetoric centered around kindness, giving, and gratitude.
When asked to offer a final piece of advice for all of the parents out there on how to best parent and navigate teens in this digital world, both Candace and Sylvia unknowingly agree. Talk less and listen more.
“I don’t want to put my thoughts into her that will keep her from excelling at what she’s doing. I’m trying to listen more and inject a little more here and there without changing her thought process,” noted Candace humbly.
“The key is not telling them what to do, but asking them the right questions,” Sylvia adds.