What can you learn from a sixth grader?

kids on ipad

Attending a school function on technology yesterday evening it become apparent that there is much to be learned from a 6th grader.  The presenter started displaying icons one at a time requesting that the audience of parents and their 6th graders shout out the company names.  The famous white “f” on a blue background got the expected roar of FACEBOOK.  Following was the full participation of the parents and kids when seeing the universally recognized “t” for twitter.  The list went on to include many well recognized platforms with million of users.  However, as the presenter got farther down the list and presented an icon with a white ghost on a yellow background, only the voices of 6th graders were heard saying “SNAPCHAT!”  The white “V” on a green background also drew the “VINE” response almost exclusively from the 6th audience as parents looked on scratching their heads.

Immediately following the presentation, the audience was divided up into small groups that contained both parents and kids.  Even the most tech savvy parents had lots of questions for the students about how they were using these new social media tools, how they work, and how safe they are from outside influences.  The dynamic shifted as the kids became the presenters, educating adults on the latest and greatest tools, features, and calculated risks involved with social media.  By the end of the discussion, it was clear that these kids had developed remarkably important skills that would make any self employed professional more efficient and more profitable.


  • Keeping an open mind to new solutions (social media platforms) and testing them out to understand how they work
  • Determining how to best use these tools to fulfill their mission (To socialize and share with friends)
  • Understanding the limitations and risks associated with these tools. (given the chance to speak freely, kids clearly articulated risks and strategies to avoid them)

It’s easy to write this off as the wonderful, stress free life of a kid with endless hours to play.  However, this dismissal fails to recognizing the highly scheduled nature of the lives kids lead today.  In fact, kids these days are probably just as programed and busy as their parents thus eliminating the excuse that it’s easier for kids to stay tuned into the latest and greatest technology.  Truth is, they’re just better at it because they are open to new ideas and embrace change like champs.  They also find ways to use the limited time they get between home work and bedtime to check out stuff they’ve heard about through peer groups.  Sound scary?  It’s not.  It’s amazing!

So if you’re a self employed professional on-the-go like personal trainer, massage therapist, hair stylist, or any other profession that keeps you on our toes seeing clients, just remember to take time to be aware of the changing technology around you.  You don’t need to dive in head first if you are consistently keeping an eye out for new technology and taking baby steps to test the waters.  Over time, this discipline and awareness will generate ideas and tools to implement them in ways that may not have been possible before.  It might be time for a change ……… just ask a sixth grader.

By: Justin Shelby, CEO & Co-Founder

Artichoke Mobile Client Management SolutionArtichoke is a business application for mobile devices that enables self employed professionals running check-in oriented businesses to get organized, get booked, and get paid.  Work for you, wherever you’re working! www.getartichoke.com

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