Your geeky passions may not seem like they have much to do with your kids other than sharing your love of movies and books, but geekiness may just be the best parenting tool you have. Being a geek is really just being passionate about something, and that enthusiasm will go a long way to putting your kids on the path to a healthy and happy life. Here are five things every geek dad can teach his kids to spark their interests and passion.

How to Build a Computer

I fully expect, someday in the near future, that desktop PCs will be a thing of the past. But until then, building a PC from scratch gives your child a glimpse at how she can make stuff work. That’s a powerful feeling, especially for kids, who don’t really have all that much power over their own lives. Even if you haven’t done it before, figuring out how configure the machine and making mistakes together shows her that even adults struggle with new things and that persistence pays off in impressive ways; in this case, with a sweet computer that she can say she made herself!

How to Create a Website or Program

The web is going to be the primary portal for your kid to access most of the information he’ll consume over their lifetime; that’s just the reality of growing up now. Surprisingly, basic HTML will get your kid a long way toward building his own custom website. Designing his own site and learning how to arrange page elements will get your child to think about what’s behind all of those Flash animations and text. He may even dive deeper into web design later on.

I’m also strongly in favor of everyone learning how to build even just small programs; it makes you feel like an evil genius typing away into a console and getting your computer to obey. And for kids, learning to program is a perfect chance to learn critical think and problem-solving skills. Try the tutorials at Code Academy to learn JavaScript or some other simple language alongside your little programmer; they’re super easy and kid-friendly for children with an adult to help them consume the new language.

How to (Safely) Surf the Web

Even though it seems like they’re born knowing how to use computers, there are certain essential web skills that need to be learned. Teach your kids how to find what they want online using search engines and keywords; that’s a skill we often take for granted. And with their smaller vocabulary, kids may need practice thinking of synonyms to revise their searches to find what they’re looking for and avoid what they shouldn’t be looking at.

Know what content filters are available on your computers, tablets and game consoles, and make use of them; they’re not perfect, but filters help reduce your kids’ exposure to stuff they’re not ready to deal with.

Talk to your kids about strangers online. Because they’re at home, they can get a false sense of security about giving away information about themselves. Make sure they know that if they’re uncomfortable about anything that happens while they’re online, they can talk to you about it without shaming or fear of getting into trouble. Mom or Dad should be the first people they think to tell when something doesn’t feel right.

How to Be Different

With comic book movies selling out theaters and sitcoms about geeks hitting primetime, it might feel like the social stigma tied to all things nerdy has fallen away. Not so, unfortunately. Kids are still mean, and they still try to place each other into in-groups and out-groups based on what clothes they wear, what their hobbies are, how much they weigh, how good they are at sports — all things adult geeks can remember being bullied about as kids.

You have the opportunity to head a lot of that bullying off at the pass by teaching your kids that being different is cool. Give them good, geeky role models to look up to, like Bill Gates, Albert Einstein and Marie Curie. Help them see past the petty social games of middle school and high school to show them that being smart and loving something with geeky passion can lead to great things in their lives. Don’t let peer pressure and a desire just to fit in crush their creativity or individuality; they’ll be happier, better adjusted adults with their personalities intact.

How to Love Stories

The best way to engender curiosity and a love of learning in your child is to teach her to love the tales that geeky passions are made of. Science fiction and fantasy are enjoying a new golden age right now, so there’s plenty of comics, novels, movies, blogs and games that will help stir her imagination and help her connect with kids who have similar interests.

Literature, music and art can also be an escape that helps kids to deal with the sometimes rough parts of growing up. More than one time, being able to dive into another world through my books, favorite movies or engaging video games helped me forget my own troubles and forge an identity when I didn’t think I had one. That’s the power of good stories.

Spending Time

All of these things you can teach your child are really just about one thing: spending time with him. He will be interested in whatever you’re interested in simply because you’re his dad; that’s how it works. And when he starts to develop his own interests, you can get into that, too. Sharing a geeky passion over anything is a way to share your lives together as a family, and it’ll do worlds of good for both of you.

Mark Greene is trying to indoctrinate his impressionable children with his geeky tendencies. He contributes regularly to, writing on tech news, DIY electronics, software, technology and gaming.