Tech-savvy dads: We're geeks and proud of it

No need to be embarrassed if your dad talks about the finer points of the latest CyanogenMod or debates the merits of an ultrabook around the dinner table. Survey says geek is the new cool.

"Tech Tool School" is always in session at home, say nearly 80 percent of survey respondents. (Click to enlarge.) Cisco

Who hasn't called their dad a geek or nerd at some point, right? The thing is, while those monikers might have been an insult or cause for embarrassment back in the day, today, they're a badge of honor for many tech-savvy dads out there.

According to a survey sponsored by Cisco Home Networking Business (who knew Cisco was in the business of geek dads?), these self-proclaimed nerds are eager to pass on their high-tech knowledge to their sons and daughters. And get this: instead of retreating to their rooms and slamming their doors in that special way only angst-ridden teens can, the kids are into it, giving both parties an opportunity to spend more time together.

The survey, called "Confessions of a Geek Dad" and conducted by Answers Research, asked 590 "tech-savvy" men between the ages of 25 to 54, with children ages 17 and under, about their technology habits as it relates to their interaction with kids and other family members.

Seventy two percent of respondents said they're more excited to teach their kids how to use tech tools than traditional tools (who needs adult-supervised instruction on power tools when you can just look up how-to videos on YouTube nowadays?), and 71 percent said they're spending more time engaged in activities with their kids than their fathers did with them.

This geekiness is a source of pride for the men, according to the survey. Seventy percent said their kids think they're hip for being so tech-savvy, which makes the papas proud and also gives them the perception that they're cooler than other dads.

Tech-savvy dad Roberto and his 8-year-old son Diego share a moment at San Francisco's Exploratorium earlier this year. Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

But if you think you're about to see a "Revenge of the Nerds" remake between the geek dads and the jock dads, think again; they may be one in the same. The men reported many interests outside of the world of tech, with 77 percent saying they were sports buffs, 65 percent outdoor enthusiasts, and 82 percent music lovers.

The life of a geek dad isn't all moonlight and gaming handhelds, however. Thirty five percent of the respondents said their partners get annoyed when they spend time playing with their gadgets, and one in five admitted to using technology in secret to avoid being discovered by their wives. One participant said he got in trouble with his wife after she discovered he was watching basketball on his tablet instead of working late at the office. The cruel mistress that is the NBA strikes again.

In all seriousness, with the growing prevalence of tech in our lives, the way we interact with one another has and will continue to change in many ways--some for the good, some for the bad. As much as I love tech, hopefully it doesn't become the center of all interaction between parent and child.

My father isn't geeky at all; in fact, he's quite the opposite. I still have to teach him how to use his simple flip phone or in-car nav system every time I go home for the holidays, but some of my happiest childhood memories are of building forts out of blankets and playing H.O.R.S.E. in the backyard with my dad.

What say you, geek dads? What role does technology play when you're hanging out with your kids? And let's hear from all the geek moms out there, too!

About the author

Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.

 

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