How to “like” your child in the social network

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Cyber Safety for Kids and Families on The Fish 103.9FM The Fish

Cole Zick, Director of Youth Ministry at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento observes that Facebook for youth is passe, much like MySpace faded for teens, a plethora of new apps emerge as digital hang outs: Instagram, kik!, SnapChat, etc.

The biggest concern for parenting today is keeping up with the technology. Social media apps are constantly evolving (what starts out as simple texting becomes photo sharing and networking) and as new apps are emerging. Every few months, there may be a new digital hang out where the kids flock to be in their own social environment.

It is a multiple channel cyber world.

High school students will tell you that while they have a Facebook account, they do not spend much time there. The other apps they are using more frequently include Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat, or kik!  And the main artery of communication remains texting, and there are a plethora of free apps for texting on tablets and smart phones.

So from a parenting perspective, while it is a fool’s errand to try to keep up with every new app or technology development, it is important to be aware that our children are adapting quickly with their peers to the latest and greatest social network site.

And it is no surprise that kids will be going where the parents are not.

The best way to stay in tune with what your child is doing on line is by establishing an open communication, which for teens especially, means you are spending time with them and listening.

I always encourage parents to establish a family-approved app list that tracks what apps are used and why. It is a way to keep family members focused on being purpose-driven with their use of the technology.  It is also an opportunity for your children to teach you something about their interests and their world. And the chances are greater that your child will want to share with you what is happening if they know your motivation is not to make your presence felt in their social space.

Tips for parents to establish a security presence in their children’s on-line world:

  • Stay in the parenting lane. You are not your child’s friend, on or off line. That means when you are in your child’s network as one of her “friends”, stay in lurk only mode. This is your child’s social network, not yours. You are his guardian, a watchtower; your role on line is primarily observation.
  • Do not grant privacy. Privacy entails keeping personal stuff from the world, not from parents. Parents must demonstrate respect for their child’s privacy by not sharing personal information without permission. A parent’s need to know about the personal life of their child is for custodial purposes, not for controlling purposes. So parents need to be careful not to comment and give advice or correct about everything you learn about your child’s life. Give them space to roam with limits that are rooted around keeping them secure as they learn to make their own decisions.
  • Off line, “like” the things about your child that demonstrate good character. Engage your child in conversation. Catch her doing things right, including how she manages her communications on line. Some evidence of good character might be:

 Good manners and respect for others

Helping siblings

Acts of kindness

Good work ethic in doing chores or homework

Honesty with you about where she is going and who she is with

Good money management, etc.

 Proverbs 4:23 – Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.


Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She 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, 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.


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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna ( and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.