This past weekend presented very disturbing news about a young man, Elliot Rodgers, who gunned down six people and took his own life in Santa Barbara over the weekend. From the news reports, it is clear that this young man was hyper-focused on seeking validation from the social network – which can leave a person feeling isolated, abandoned, hopeless and angry.
After reviewing reports of the messages Rodgers left behind on Facebook and YouTube it appears that a state of rage became his identity – a product of fear emotion that can consume the individual. I am praying for the families impacted by this murderous rage, including the parents of this gunman, to find a measure of peace despite this horrific loss, by the authority of Jesus. Amen.
By the same token, my faith tells me that our ability to experience love and express love (to overcome fear emotion) comes first from within and is then expressed outwardly in relationships. Yet sadly social media encourages us to seek affection and acceptance first through the admiration and endorsements of others.
I believe that love is a choice that overcomes the evil made possible under the right circumstances and the wrong thinking. So incidents of murderous rage by youth reinforce for me a great urgency in helping our children seek and nurture their own relationship with the Lord, so they can experience the power of choosing love to govern their own internal world and become secure cyber-powered citizens. In this regard, learning to regulate the role of negative emotion in life is a skill that can be experienced first at home.
Help your child learn how to love and be loved on and off-line
It is possible to clarify what it means to love and be loved on and off line. Below are a few tips:
- IMPORTANT. Parents pay personal attention to your children. Put the phones and devices down. Do not allow your stresses (financial, work, etc.) to interfere with listening to how their experiences on and off line are informing them.
- Establish cyber house rules that require transparency (parents monitor cyber communications) and set a time at the end of the day when the social network is turned off. Shut it down – no more external input.
- Encourage open conversations about the values that reflect love as described in 1st Corinthians 13: 4-7; talk to your children about the trustworthy character of being patient, kind, honest and loyal which attracts trustworthy people as friends.
- Family teamwork. Everybody in the household contributes to the greater good by helping with household jobs.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15
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)
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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.