Christmas time introduces cyber safety concerns for parents whose children are receiving various internet-enabled devices as gifts. And we know that internet connectivity exposes children to adult issues including bullying and exploitation (sexual as well as commercial), so our children must be educated about their own capacity to recognize a lie or a manipulation when they encounter it and respond with confidence. For the most part, cyber safety is a matter of learning how not to engage with or agree with something that disturbs your peace. Accordingly, a post on WebMD featured the top four internet risks for kids. The risks include:
Cyber Safety for Families with Joanna and Jodie on 103.9FM The Fish Family Morning Show
Mobile connectivity use is difficult to regulate because it can be very addictive. Brain science tells us that the interaction with the device has the same effect on the brain as a drug because it stimulates the same reward system of the brain, dopamine. A new study finds that heavy use of the internet by teens may create a risk …
Email hacking is just one of the many ways in which cyber criminals seek to access personal information in order to exploit and plunder. As people become more accustomed to smart devices, every consumer product is web-enabled. The common term for this new reality is the “internet of things”, or IoT. Literally everything from cars to refrigerators and baby monitors are equipped with internet-enabled programming to operate remotely, according to consumer-prescribed settings which enhances convenience (for setting alarms, timing events and enabling remote access) and also introduces an element of risk from cyber hackers.
...So the concern from the parent’s point of view, is not trying to keep track of all the possible apps your child may want to use, but to maintain an open dialogue about their interests and build trust about what apps they are allowed to use, when and why. Social media is a very compelling experience, and in their pursuit to seek personal identity and sense of belonging, children at earlier ages can come to believe that in order to be a real person, to be visible, they must have an on-line presence.
The most important thing parents can teach children in order to groom them for cyber-safe use of texting and social media is that they already have power and it must be defended. It is like the teacher saying, “You already have an ‘A’. Your assignment is to defend it.” The seminal question for the modern teen is, how much personal power will you surrender to the bully, the drug or the device?
Every day youth are exposed to the latest digital hangouts – most of it is adult swim, content that features bullying (ask.fm, YikYak), addiction (drugs and alcohol glorified) and exploitation (gratuitous sex and consumer hype). This reality of the cyber realm, this brave new world can be intimidating to confront if you are the parent of a middle schooler. A recent Contra Costa Times article featured awareness with the title: “There is nothing simple about parenting in the digital age”. Well, I beg to differ.
Mental health is a touchy subject, and youth are very confident about searching for information via the internet. So it is not surprising that a recent article via BBC News featured a concern that teens are seeking mental health advice from the internet and not involving the adults in their lives. But more interesting to me is that parents were not mentioned as one of the “go to” resources for youth seeking assistance with mental health issues. This made me wonder how parents can realize their role in their children’s mental health.
What is different for the modern teen is the constant pressure to be “always on”, and the anxiety of being “liked” or ignored, and the cyberbully effect when a teen becomes the target of teasing or harassment. This is what we might call peer pressure on steroids and, FOMO or “fear of missing out,” which according to a study by the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, points to a common thread of teenagehood experience. This stress from the pressure to be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week results in sleep deprivation, lower self esteem, anxiety and depression.
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The objective of Banana Moments (click here to receive updates) is to help parents rise above the noise and the fray of the daily, weekly, monthly press of information and life’s stresses of family business. Banana Moments offers insights and inspiration to reinforce your own family values and help you lead children in this network culture that pressures all of us with things that don’t really matter and are largely not true.
Joanna (email@example.com) 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.