It is true that whoever has the device in a hyper-connected world needs to learn how to think like the quarterback. In this regard, our children are emerging executives who must be trained to think correctly especially when responding to the seductive and manipulative experiences of mobile connectivity.
And the challenge for parenting in this network culture is to capture the intellect and will of your child so you can impart wisdom, and provide protective oversight until they have learned how to stand their ground when confronted with the cyber risks which include: bullying, pedophilia and sexual exploitation, addictions and addictive behaviors, and feelings of depression and anxiety. While you can establish age-appropriate boundaries it is not possible to have control over your child and the technology, and fearful thoughts can consume a parent (i.e., worrying or micro managing) and can make you un-relatable or hostile which kills open communication essential to cyber safety because kids can easily hide risky experiences from parents. That is why parenting tech-savvy kids requires mental fitness which comes from the confidence of your faith.
Signs you are a mentally fit cyber parent
- You focus mental energy on good thoughts. You use your mental energy wisely by choosing to put your confidence in the thoughts that come from the heart of God which are always merciful and redemptive in all circumstances. (Philippians 2:5 – encourages us to let this mind which was also in Christ Jesus be in you.)
- You are clear about the parenting and child lanes in life. You realize that worrying is not the same thing as caring, and that your child is responsible for their own thoughts and actions, on and off-line. This is the power that God grants every individual in the form of intelligent life and free will. You have confidence that your child can learn how to use this power wisely and you view your role as the parent as the primary educator: to provide wise guidance and constructive experiences at home to educate your child to use their God-given intelligence and free will wisely. (James 1:5 – tells us that God grants wisdom generously to those who lack it and seek it.) To see more about house rules as boundary-setting that is perceived as liberating or empowering, go to: A Parents’ Guide to Cyber Citizenship
- You have confidence in your child. You have confidence in your child’s ability to learn how to use that power correctly, and stand corrected (change their ways and without shaming) when they make poor choices or mistakes. (James 1:2 – encourages us to consider it pure joy when you suffer, for it is building resilience of your faith which is learned through such experiences).
- You are clear about trust and faith. Children will want to have complete autonomy with their texting and social media and there will be emotional pressure applied to give in. You realize that trust among people, especially tech-savvy kids, is always verifiable; while faith is reserved for God who requires no proof. That is why you monitor your child’s cyber communications. You proactively build trust by engaging your child in open conversations about beliefs and values of your family, what interests your child, and how their experiences on and off line impact them. When your child complains that you don’t trust them, you reply: “I trust you to be your age, and from time to time for circumstances to conspire against your best interest. My job is to train you how NOT to give up your power.”
- Respect but do not grant privacy. You have a healthy respect for your child’s privacy and a devotion to your role as the guardian for personal development and security. You do not grant your child privacy, but you do respect their privacy by not blabbing their business without permission or by commenting on everything you see.
To learn more about building trust and open communication with tech-savvy kids, go to: Fresh Start
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.