@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • Are 10-year-olds too young to go to a museum on their own – a Twitter Debate.

    June 24th, 2019mardixonCulture

    Every few years, a question reappears on social media regarding museums and young people in museums by themselves and just like clockwork, the Scotsman ran another article title: Why we need to give kids the freedom to learn for themselves by Cameron Wylie was published.  The issue was around allowing a 10 year old into a museum on their own. 

    There is always much debate around this so I ran a Twitter Poll


    Now two things:

    1. I’m an idiot.  I said I was going to run the poll for 5 hours and ran it for 5 days.
    2. I knew it was going to be contentious so decided to not get involved in discussions as I didn’t want to sway any opinions.

    The results were surprising for me as I really felt ‘Yes’ would be the clear winner as my followers, while a lot are museums people, are diverse in so many other sectors and very international. 

    However the results were:

    • 29% Yes
    • 35% No
    • 37% Depends

    The reason I felt it would be a lot stronger was the ‘on their own’ bit.  In today’s world, it seemed most people do not leave their 10-year-old at home alone never mind allowing them the walk to a museum.  (All tweets have been stored in a Moments that you can find here).

    I’m completely pro-kids in museums.  I volunteered with Kids in Museums and still run Teens in Museums. I’ve also been involved in schools (primary to university) so I’m always fully aware of safeguarding and legal issues that have to come into play as they can not be ignored or avoided.

    Let’s just get this out of the way right now – there is no one right way of parenting.  If you want little Johnny to go to the museums at 8 on their own and you trust them walking there on their own than so be it.  Or if you’re a parent that still goes on school trips with your 16-year-old – that is fine also! I’m honest enough to say that I firmly believe parenthood is all about winging it.  What is right for one child might not be right for another and they can be twins!

    Museums have a different view:  safeguarding and insurance issues are main ones that can not be avoided.  However this is important to think about:

    In the Yes team:

    In the No Team:

    And Depends Team

    There are many variables we aren’t really addressing in this such as:

    • Country
    • Culture
    • Societal laws vs political laws
    • The many benefits allowed/missed
    • Staffing issues (although it was briefly brought up)

    Overall this debate will be brought up again in a few years and it’ll be interesting to see where we are with the allowance. There were plenty of responses from people that stated they were allowed to walk to museums when they were younger or that their parents dropped them off and went shopping. Could you imagine that today? (In fairness, I remember being dropped off at a movie theatre with my sister for the same reason. But I also remember riding in the back of a pickup truck when I was 10 and not always wearing a seat belt… but I’m getting off track.)

    However back in the good ol’ days, we were also allowed to come home for lunch during the day and walk to and from school even if it was a mile out.

    I did appreciate that there were a few potential solutions that were added to the debate:

    Overall, my advice is to check with your museum and see what their policy is or if your child really does want to go to the museum on their own, work with the museum to see if there is a compromise.

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