Cyber communication in the hands of every individual is a cultural phenomenon that previous generations of parents has not had to confront. It is a power crisis wherein the disconnect from truth is profound, as knowledge and wisdom are easily confused in the cyber social realm. Never before have parents been so ignorant and fearful of the emerging childhood experience as those of the first generation of digital natives (i.e., kids born in 1990 or later). The technology is so ubiquitous, dynamic and compelling, and it makes possible clandestine risky relationships and inappropriate content in plain sight (think internet porn, sexting, texting, gossip and pedophiles).
Additional challenges are wrapped in the obscuring of social norms for what is considered legal and safe as cyber-powered social networks have more capacity to become single points of reference for life. Unchecked, the role of the parent is pushed to the side in a culture where it is easy to believe that anything you need to know you can simply “google”. If this is truly the case, who needs a parent, coach, teacher, or especially a benevolent Deity to impart wisdom?
By the same token, digital natives (kids born after 1990 who cannot imagine a world without internet connectivity) are seeking authenticity, which is fearlessness. They are welcoming a more intimate bond with parents, and willing to collaborate in ways that previous generations have not. Did you know that there is such a thing as “bring your parent to work day?”
So the new strains on parent-child bond also create an opportunity to strengthen the parent-child bond, to build trust, as described about some of the new demands on parents below.
5 Ways parenthood is changed by cyber technology
- Kids are emerging executives. A child’s cyber-powered childhood is informing them radically differently than that of their parents. Parents need to consider children as experts in this regard. Let your child inform you of their discoveries and experiences on and off line.
- Kids are seeking authenticity. Kids get a lot of fear and fakery in the social network, and so they are seeking authenticity – which translates as fearlessness. Parents need to be mindful of their own fears and worrying, which is not the same thing as caring.
- Trust is highly valued. It is also confused with faith. Explain to your child that trust between people is always verifiable, while faith we reserve for God who requires no proof.
- Kids are worldlier. Kids are exposed to adult issues, bullying, addiction, and exploitation at earlier ages. So criticizing and condemning other parents and their children kills open communication – especially about the things your child is experiencing. It is easy for them to keep their issues from you. Hence be mindful that your opinion and wisdom are not the same thing.
- The spiritual role of the parent is heightened. A good way to impart your spiritual wisdom is to 1) pray so you can proceed with a heart at peace, and then, 2) ask your child if they want to know what you know about a situation or a circumstance they are experiencing. This is how to engage the intellect and will of your child. My faith informs me that it is the Jesus model for relating your authority to establish boundary setting, or discipline, as love language. It is not manipulative and controlling; rather it is confident and inviting. You meet the child where he or she is at, no matter how hostile, angry, or even elated; speak truth with mercy and hope; show the way (along with anticipating or dealing with the consequences), and then step back and let the child choose to embrace your wisdom or not.
To learn more about creating a family culture characterized by open communication, trust and individual resilience, go to: Fresh Start.
Register today: Symposium on Meeting the Spiritual and Mental Health Needs of Modern Youth and Families – June 13, 2015, in Citrus Heights, California
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, 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, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.
- Cyber safety for kids and families on TheFish103.9FM (videos)
- Follow Joanna @CyberParenting
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- Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner
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- Email: Jullien@surewest.net
Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and recovery from addiction. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.