Geek culture and gaming conventions are everywhere. They are incredibly popular and every time I think the bubble is going to burst another Con pops up. These are exciting events and a lot of parents want to bring their children, but are afraid to because they aren’t sure how to keep them safe and to ensure that everyone has a good time.
Before we get started let me just remind everyone that’s going to Comic Con in Vegas in June to head over here to help control costs!
Take a look below for some advice from convention going parents who have brought their children along for the ride and loved every minute of it!
The biggest concern on most parents lists when it comes to bring their kids to conventions is safety. Cons are large, crowded, and full of bright lights and distractions. This makes it super easy for a child to get lost. Fortunately there are some tactics you can use to help make sure you all get reconnected if you and your child happen to become separated.
Make sure that your child has your phone number.
You’ll note that I didn’t say they should “know” your number here. They can have your number memorized all they want, but even the most level headed kid can forget it in a stressful scenario like being lost at a convention with thousands of people.
Make sure your phone number is in their backpack, on the back of their badge, and even written on their arm in magic marker. Put it everywhere to make sure it will get found regardless of the circumstances.
Introduce Them to the Staff
Every convention has paid (or volunteer) staff members who are there to ensure everyone is safe and has a good time. In most cases they will all have special badges or t-shirts announcing their positions. (PAX events for example have Enforcers who are often wearing red t-shirts that say ENF on them.) The first thing you should do when entering the building is introduce your child to a member of the staff and to make sure they know what the uniform or badge looks like. That will help your child feel comfortable asking for help.
A lot of kids these days already have cell phones. If your child has one, then make sure they bring it and have a means of charging it in an emergency.
All is not lost if they don’t have a cellphone though. Most convention centers have WiFi so you can bring an old iPhone or tablet and hook them up to the network when you get there. You can instruct them to take out their device and send you an email telling you where they are in the event that you are separated.
The reality is that there is no such thing as a plan that survives contact with the enemy. You and your child may get separated and they may not have an easy way to each you. The most important thing to impress upon your child is that they shouldn’t move. The worst thing they can do is panic and start running around the convention center. This will make it all that much harder to find them.
The only exception is if you agree to a central meeting location ahead of time. For example, many cons have signs hanging from the ceiling that can be used as landmarks from just about anywhere in the hall. You could agree to meet at the Nintendo booth at just about any video game related con because their signs are massive and easy to see.
We wrote about what you should pack for your first convention in a separate article. Most of the same rules apply for your kids. Weight is especially important for you to pay attention to because since they are smaller everything will be proportionally heavier to them. Some of the things you should include for them are:
- Water Bottle
- Their communication device/charger
- Small amount of emergency cash (you never know)
Take lots of breaks
Conventions are intense so you need to make sure that you give your child a chance to rest in a quiet spot away from the wild crowds and the loud noises. You know your children better than we do, but it is safe to assume they will need more breaks than you normally would. And trust us, the last thing you want to do is spend the time, money, and energy to bring them along only to have them melt down with overstimulation in the middle of the day.
These are our tips and advice for bringing your child to their first convention or Comic-Con. But, we know tat our readers have their own tips and tricks. Hop into the comments and share them!