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Life Skills for Fanboys:  Stop Bringing Your Kids to Cons

written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2014

To further my goal of helping fellow fanboys, I have included an index of links of previous columns with their topics.  Don’t take it personal, I’m just trying to help.

Kids and Cons

Hey, geek parents.  I know you want to be cool.  I know you want your kids to understand that the first three Star Wars movies are the best, that Dungeons and Dragons is awesome and all the other geek stuff we all love and enjoy.  But do me this one favor.

Stop bringing your kids to cons.

I’m not talking about your teenagers.  If you have kids that are old enough to run around a mall either supervised or unsupervised, then sure, you can probably bring your kids to the daytime events of your average con.  But if you have young kids and babies—  Maybe you should just get a sitter.  Don’t have a sitter?  Don’t worry, all this crazy geek shit will be back year after year.  It’s not going anywhere.  Maybe sit a few cons out.  Ya know, for the kids.

The Whys

1) Cons are not for kids:  Okay, I know, conventions (especially comic books conventions) like to appeal to families.  They try to encourage characters in costume, publishers with comics for kids and other kid-friendly things on the floor of the convention.  In my experience, it’s mostly blown up in the the con organizer’s face.  The reality is, those costume guys are fun for everyone, most kids don’t read comics and the kid-friendly things on the floor of the con are usually lame.

Anyone with a kid of 10 years or younger knows their attention spans are pretty short.  So yeah, you might squeeze a five minutes of fun out of the ball pit or video game demo or toy display.  Then what?  Well, they quickly get bored and hungry and whiney.

And even when there is a small portion of space devoted to kids at a comic book convention, the vast majority of it is for people buying comics and other collectibles, especially autographs.  Your ten year-old doesn’t even know who William Shatner is, he certainly doesn’t want to stand in line two hours to get his picture and autograph.

Fantasy/Sci-fi Cons are even less geared for kids.  There is more of a party atmosphere, especially at night.  I don’t know who brings their young kids to Dragon Con, but they really should have their head examined.  That is definitely not a place for children or anyone under 18.  (Not that this is typical, but the only place in the world I have ever been offered heroin is in the dealer’s room in Dragon Con.  Apparently, there are geek junkies out there.)

Gaming cons can appeal to teens because of the games.  But it’s still not a place to leave you kid unless he can survive unsupervised.  Conventions bring in thousands of strangers from far away.  Most are normal people, a tiny portion are not to be trusted with your kid.

2) The Geek Experience is Everywhere:  If you want your kid to have the geek experience, that’s great.  But it’s also everywhere.  Usually, your local hobby store/game shop/comic shop is the center of that experience.  Why not start there before you thrust your kid into hardcore geekdom?  I have a nephew that loves Magic Cards.  I’m sure he’d love Gen Con, but he’s just not old enough to be there unsupervised.  At every game con, there are always some card sharks looking to scam you out of cards or outright steal them.  You have to watch out for some of the dealers at a gaming con too.  Most are very honest, but a tiny portion will scam you and they often target young fans because those are the easiest to trick.

Point is, there’s plenty of other places outside a con to take your kid until he’s older.  Why not consider sticking with those geek venues until the kid is mature enough?

3)  Don’t Force the Geek Experience on Your Kid:  My nephew got into Magic Cards complete independent of me and his father, who used to play all the time.  Now we take him to tournaments.  We didn’t drag him to tournaments, force a deck into his hands and tell him to play.  When I’m at conventions, I often see young kids getting dragged around the convention by their geek parents.  The kids are rolling their eyes and looking bored because they have all sorts of better things to do.

If your kid’s not into the geek stuff, forcing him to come along is just going to make him hate it.  At the very least, he’ll associate his lame parents with the convention.  I know your excited that your kid reads Spiderman, but if you jump down his throat over it, you’re going to turn off the next geek generation.

4)  Don’t bring your baby:  Please, just don’t.  Okay?  Babies don’t read comics, watch Anime, play D&D or want to sit in a panel discussion about Star Trek.  Be a parent.  Stay home with your baby.  That’s the price you pay when you have a baby.  Sorry.  If you don’t want to miss a single Origins or MegaCon, don’t have a baby!


1)  Stay Home:  You have a family.  Suck it up and spend time with them.

2)  Get a sitter:  Okay, I realize this may not be an option for you, but if it is, consider it.  Go, recapture the old days of your geek youth without the kids in tow.  Leave them the fuck at home with the grandparents and you won’t have to worry.  Or maybe coordinate a time which the kids are away at camp with a convention on the same week.  Problem solved.

3)  Stay for the Day:  If you’re going to bring the kids, the daytime events are usually the most kid-friendly.  The evening brings dance parties, comic book burlesque and drunken room parties.  Spend the day, get out by six and you probably won’t have much of a problem, assuming you have the bank roll to pay the exorbitant entrance fees.

4)  Be a Good Chaperone:  If you insist on bringing your spawn to the con, stick with them.  The last thing I need is to have your kid blow all his money at my table and then have you come back five minutes later demanding a refund because you have better ideas about how to spend his cash.  (That’s not going to happen, btw.)  If your kids need monitoring (and they probably do), be a parent and stick with them.  You might miss the Marvel movie premiere, but you’ll live.


Am I trying to tell you how to raise your kids?  Not really.  I’m just giving you my perspective.  I’ve seen kids at cons that are having a great time and I’ve seen ones that look like they’ve been abandoned in the middle of a field of cosplayers.  The fact is, geeks often consider convention friends akin to family and they forget that they are in a very public place that includes strangers they haven’t screened.  Just remember where you are and what your kids can handle.

Seriously, though, no more babies.  Please.

Previous Columns

Obesity at Cons

The Art of Conversation


The Line Between Fans and Pros

Geek Elitism

Convention Panels

Convention Volunteers

Food Gifts

Women and Cons

Get Your Room Party Together