There’s a new set of social media stars on the rise — the Instadads. Men around the world are shedding the embarrassing dad tag by showing themselves to be cool. One such man is Sergei Urban who lives with his wife and children in London. He setup The Dad Lab, an educational Instagram account (@thedadlab)with 22,000 followers, showing him and his two boys havingfun with science experiments and getting messy with art projects. Just in time for International Men’s Day on Nov. 19, which aims to improve gender relations and promote equality between men and women, we spoke to Urban about why being an Instadad is the best job in the world.
Why have you decided to become an Instadad?
One day I was inspired by my wife to start sharing our incredible kids' activities on Instagram. I guess at that point a few dads had started exploring Instagram and here we are with a number of dads conquering the web.
Seeing as you’re essentially advertising products on behalf of toy manufacturers, are you paid per post or do you receive any perks?
The Dad Lab isn't my job; it is a hobby. Me and my wife run a web developing company that supports us, so we can work from home and spend all the time in the world with our sons. Children's toys are my passion and when I spot something interesting, I do everything in my power to feature that toy. At the end of the day, if I am looking for a present for a child, I always look through my feed to find a perfect match.
How does your lifestyle beat a standard 9-5 job?
Parenting is tiring, but I cannot describe how satisfying it is to watch my sons achieving milestones. Working from home gave me a chance to be in my children's lives and witness how they get smarter and more independent every day. Children do grow fast and we have to be there so that we don’t miss out on good memories — even though it means answering comments on my Facebook page at night.
So, you are trying to inspire people to spend more time with their children?
When I started The Dad Lab I didn't set any specific goal. I was just happy to publish my little videos and get feedback. But then people started reaching out, telling me their stories and thanking me for my posts
And now it has purpose?
Yes, now I can say that The Dad Lab does have a purpose. You know, parenting is tough and at some point, parents need a bit of inspiration to keep on going.
Are your posts predominantly targeting parents or children?
We are trying to give parents ready-made solutions, so that they can spend quality time with their children. We are showing impressive and easy-to-do science tricks to inspire curiosity in children; we are sharing parenting hacks on how to entertain a child in a restaurant, so parents can enjoy their meal.
In your opinion, what are the educational benefits of The Dad Lab over, say, school or more traditional methods?
I get a lot of feedback from my followers who wished their teacher explained science as I do to my children. I guess the reason for that is that we show how science can be used in real life — what incredible experiments can be done if you have the right knowledge.
What it so unique about your Instagram?
All my kids' science experiments are very easy to do for a parent and all of them are mind-blowing for children. Having fun together as a family is very important for every parent and child. And people can learn to do that on my social media page.
What kind of videos and photographs are most popular?
I publish mainly videos and the most popular videos are probably of the easiest activities you can do at home. Once I showed my younger son how to make balloons explode using vinegar and baking soda and that was viewed over one million times.
What other successful posts do you remember?
Have you tried to make rainbow dissolving Skittles in water? I published this colorful experiment with my older son in August and the video went viral. Since then I believe everyone has tried that.
-Dmitry Belyaev, Daniel Casillas