We’re happy to announce that George Garrick joined SocialShield this week as our new CEO. George has led other successful tech companies including TapJoy, Jingle Networks, Wine.com, PlaceWare and Flycast Communications. We sat down with our new CEO and father of three teenagers to hear his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities that technology presents to parents in the digital age.
In your experience, how has parenting changed over the past twenty years? What issues should parents be concerned about today that they would not have been in the past?
Kids today are exposed to volumes of easily accessible information on a wide range of topics which, in the past, would have been illegal, banned, unavailable, or generally “off limits.” Not anymore. Parents no longer have much control over when, where, and how kids learn about topics which should ideally be learned from the parents. Kids are also in constant communication with each other. In the past, something that happened at school or a party would have taken days to spread around. But now texts and photos are instantly sent to a network of dozens of kids and can spread throughout an entire school body in hours. We don’t know what the ultimate effects of changes like these will be in the next couple generations, but it’s a world of difference from when we “baby boomers” were growing up.
How can technology help solve the challenges caused by, well, technologies like social networks, mobile phones, etc.?
This will require changes in parenting – parents need to make sure they themselves are informed about what their kids have available to them and they need to take appropriate steps to monitor and restrict behavior. This may require setting guidelines and limitations in areas where they weren’t previously needed. In my own experience, I’ve found that increased parent to parent communication is vital. You can restrict (to some extent) what goes on in your own home, but what about other homes? And kids have more ways to collaborate, make plans, and set up alibis. So most parents observe pieces of what’s going on but not the whole picture. If parents stay in touch on a regular basis and have a better understanding of their kids’ activities, kids will realize this which in itself sets up some borders.
As a parent, how do you feel personally connected to SocialShield? Why did you decide to join the company?
There is an emerging need for tools to help parents in the growing online environment. That’s what we do and in the same way that computer protection software like anti-virus services have become an important industry, tools which help parents protect their kids will also become a huge business.
What is your vision for the future of the company?
To be the leader in the space I’ve described and to serve the needs of parents that I – and many other parents – have. I can’t tell you exactly how we will fully do that since the company and the space is young. But we have the people, resources, and head start that we need. We’ll figure it out soon enough!