Alberto Canal sees technology through the prism of being a father. (Courtesy Alberto Canal)

Empowering Our Families: Tech as a Cultural Touchstone

From our series: Parents Behind Technology

Alberto Canal returned home from work one night to find an unusual scene: His house was quiet and all the lights were off. As he walked into the living room, he was amazed to find his 11-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter practicing yoga by candlelight.

The kids had “discovered” yoga while browsing family-friendly content on the FiOS TV channel guide with their babysitter. And the best part? The kids now love yoga and have made it part of their regular playtime routines.

For Alberto, it was a defining moment and further evidence of the value of his work at Verizon FiOS. As VP of Corporate Communications, he is a strong believer in the benefits of Verizon’s technology, and the value of free, on demand, easy-to-access entertainment.

The son of Cuban immigrants, Alberto originally thought he would become a teacher (something he may still pursue at some point in the future) but instead pursued a career in journalism. At Verizon he started out in labor relations and moved on to sustainability before arriving at his current executive position in the Company’s corporate communications organization. It has been a time of unprecedented growth and success for the New Jersey-based Fortune 15 Company, and Alberto is always energized when discussing the company’s offerings. Like a reporter, he loves the fast-paced nature of his job, constantly sifting through information and trying to get a handle on data and trends to decide whether something is newsworthy, share-worthy or helpful to influencers, which is partly why the team created the Innovation Index.

Verizon’s latest ad campaign features Modern Family’s Ty Burrell (better known as Phil Dunphy) extolling the virtues of FiOS: “When you get it, you get it!” If you have FIOS, you totally understand what Ty means. FiOS Quantum is the fastest possible home Internet solution, and Verizon continues to empower consumers by embracing mobile devices for anytime, anywhere web browsing and entertainment.

I asked Alberto to talk about today’s technology from his perspective as a father.

“It’s truly a fun time to work in the tech ecosystem. Let’s take gaming as an example. My parents are as low-tech as can be. They once bought a TV with two buttons on the remote – yes, two! – yet they still called for help. When I was a kid playing Atari with my older sister, my mother did not try to play or engage with us in any way. I’m sure she thought ‘bueno, por lo menos estan entretenidos.’ Fast-forward to today and my 80-yr-old mother trash talks to my 11-year-old son while playing Wii, or shouts ‘Mira!’ and ‘Que curioso’ as she launches los pajaritos (‘Angry Birds, Aba,’ my kids tell her) on her tablet computer.”

“The increasing ubiquity and mobility of technology, and the focus on ease of use, have made it a huge cultural touchstone. I don’t know about you, but I can’t be at a barbeque, kids’ soccer game, or any other gathering without having a discussion with someone about the latest tech gadget or innovation.”

In technology, it’s hard to separate the work you do from being a parent. People that live and breathe technology on a daily basis rely on their families for feedback and regularly use them as testers of new products and services. Alberto reminds us that the family viewpoint plays a critical role in evaluating the success of our endeavors.

And it always will be.

Disclosure: Monica J. Vila has participated in promotional campaigns for Verizon. Prior to that, she has been a FIOS user at her home since service was available in 2005. All opinions expressed here are her own.

Empowering Our Families: Tech as a Cultural Touchstone dsc7816 2 tech 2 NBC Latino News

Monica Vila is “Chief Technology Mom,” born and raised in Mexico and co-founder of The Online Mom, the market leader in providing online and off-line tools to make parents of kids K-12 smarter and more comfortable with the technology that touches their family. The Online Mom is a website, an online newsletter, a forum for discussion, a network of certified experts and a social community devoted to promoting a healthy understanding and appreciation for the positive role technology can play in a family’s life.

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