A Parents’ Guide to Cyber Citizenship
Parenting in the network culture
Understand who we are leading and their perspective. “Digital Natives” are children of the Web who cannot imagine the world without the Internet.
- Authority is relational
- Friend communities have greater influence
- Texting main artery of communication
- Seek authenticity
- Attention is premium
- Trust is currency
In the network culture, children are at risk of cyber-powered unlawful acts when they are insecure. The beliefs to which our children are exposed tell them they are neither important, nor good enough unless they lower standards for personal security and surrender their inherent authority in the name of “freedom”. These beliefs include:
- Circumstances define me. I am nobody if I am not famous, even if it’s in my own cyber community. And if I am somebody, it’s because I put myself out there with outrageous, audacious reckless abandon. (Tiger Woods, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are examples of crash wrecked lives considered glamorous).
- Command and control of cyber lives means instant gratification is the new norm. I don’t expect to wait. Personal investment for long-term gain is wishful thinking.
- In order to be respected, I must dominate others.
- Rules don’t always apply to me.
- Prescription drugs are safe to use, doctors prescribe them. Everybody does it.
- Casual sex is required to be “intimate” or “popular”; use contraceptives and you can have safe sex.
- Drinking alcohol is not a problem for children just don’t drive while under the influence.
- Marijuana is safe to use, and the laws against it are stupid. It was the drug of choice of my parents’ generation, so if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.
On the surface these lies seem like the same old peer pressure of previous generations. What is not understood by many parents today is the amount of intense, surreal pressure applied through network technology that shapes their reality.
Power of Parents
Cyber-powered technology can be very disruptive to our life if we do not have a purpose-driven perspective. The role of parents:
Make cyber tools work for you and your family
Produce cyber secure citizens
Establish House Rules that reinforce your core values
Fundamentals for House Rules
Each family has a unique culture, as every individual is unique. The fundamentals of House Rules below offers some criteria for you to establish your own house rules based upon your values and culture.
These fundamentals take into consideration the characteristics needed to cultivate more confident and secure perspectives of individuals relating and interacting in the ‘Net’ and the culture influenced by the ‘Net’.
- Consider Internet access and smart phones as a rite of passage – not a right.
- No secrets, no surprises. Transparency mandatory.
- Explain why the rule exits and how they benefit individuals and the family.
- Regulate schedule and access to cyber tools (mobile phones and Internet).
- Unplug phones at a designated time in the evening.
- Only hit “send” if your mother could read it and be proud.
- Establish and enforce consequences for rules violations.
Cyber limits and the law
Every law enforcement representative interviewed for Banana Moments research has consistently expressed how personal security and keeping the peace is largely a factor of our ability to self-govern as individuals and as a community.
A generation ago it was a more simple matter.
Parents were “the law”.
Children caught doing stupid things that were illegal, such as vandalism, burglary or experimenting with drugs and alcohol would be turned over to their parents because there was an expectation that appropriate consequences would be imposed to correct their conduct. Today, explaining away immoral or unlawful conduct has become more commonplace and as a result we (society) have Zero Tolerance law enforcement on campus and in the community at large.
So let us not confuse civil liberties with absence of law.
Below are some of the unlawful cyber-powered acts that parents may not realize are happening with alarming frequency.
The first line of defense is a strong offense on the home front by instilling respect for self and the law. First we need to understand lawful conduct (click on items listed above), and then we need to understand how the network culture impacts personal security if unchecked at home (below).
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