April 2013 Monthly Update: Banana Moments
It is true that under the right circumstances and the wrong thinking, we are any of us capable of anything. In the network, this couldn’t be truer. As one teenager put it, “Everything is situational.”
Bridget Farren is an Assistant Vice Principal at Del Oro High School in Loomis. She observes daily the challenges our teenagers face in a network culture that obscures the boundaries for personal security. It is an anything goes environment, save the parental voice of wisdom.
“I am a proponent of giving my own teen space and freedom and the tools used to be successful in this network based world,” Farren said. “However, that doesn’t mean I leave out monitoring him.”
Farren encourages parents to be active monitors of their children’s on and off line activities, because the social circumstances of the modern teenager are remarkably more risky than of previous generations. She encourages parents to:
- Ask questions about the day, preferably questions that don’t require a yes or no only. It demonstrates a sincere interest.
- Monitor his devices and his electronic footprint. Why? Because you care and want to help guide them should he head down a path with friends who are making risky decisions.
- If you hear or observe your teen texting or exploring sites or social media comments that are mentioning drug related activities or parties, don’t assume these are harmless. Ask questions and reach out to other parents of the teens involved in the texts. Why risk it!
- Know that social media amplifies risky conduct. These social media parties that are advertised are exponentially advertised, meaning a party that we may have remembered as being seemingly harmless with a few close friends from high school is not today’s reality. These parties are attended often by hundreds of students from many local schools. Nobody knows everybody and the social conscience that comes with familiarity is not present. This makes these parties extreme and much more risky, because when a person gains anonymity inhibitions are decreased and he/she is much more likely to engage in risky behaviors. Bottom line, the social media organized teen “party” of today is not a safe place and we have the responsibility to prevent these from hurting our youth.
The Alpha/Omega app of heart and mind
There are three realms of security of our time. Physical (locking and alarming cars/doors), cyber (Internet security/passwords/parental controls), and hearts and minds (God’s love expressed as your beliefs, values and house rules to help children be self governing and exercise free will responsibly).
So the ultimate app for helping children set personal limits in the network is the authority model of individual liberty in the network:
“Aa” is an application faith that made the founding of the republic of the United States possible. It is an app of the heart and mind and is the source of power to rise above the fray of the hectic, noise of the network.
The capital ‘A’ is the authority of God, who is sovereign and grants free will to individuals.
The small ‘a’ is the authority of the individual.
Together “Aa” this represents liberty. And it must be defended by the individual against the manipulations of the untruth in the network, and can only be defended as our children learn to exercise free will responsibly, with wisdom.
When children experience house rules as an application of faith, “Aa” to keep them in command of their own life, not surrendering to the manipulations of untruth in the network (cyberbullying, sexting, pedophiles, drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety), they can become self-governing and cyber-secure.
So to assert your parental authority in the network as love language, “inspect what you expect,” by monitoring on and off line activities. This motto reinforces the truth that there is no privacy between parents and minor children. It is the parent’s business to know what is happening with their child, for the purpose of providing protective cover, and helping their child to exercise free will responsibly. More importantly, let your teens know you expect they are making good decisions and so you will catch them doing things right.
More articles about how to communicate the value of setting personal limits in the network:
Joanna Jullien is an author, speaker and educator on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, a contributor for Three Moms and a Mike, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM, Tuesdays.