Tips to bond with your child around “cyber-safe” house rules

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Cyber Tuesday on TheFish103.9FM

Photo: SAN_DRINO (FLickr)

“You get me” – bonding with digital natives

For digital natives, children born after 1990 who cannot imagine the world without WWW connectivity, authority is a relational experience. In previous generations, authority was ascribed to structure, such as a title like parent, teacher or president.

Digital natives seek authenticity, so they know when you are faking it. One way to be authentic is to envision your home as a mini-republic, wherein you are training your children to limit the amount of power, which is their God-given civil liberty to think for themselves, that they give up in the network. Framing house rules in this context helps translate “rules” as boundaries that protect personal liberty.

Embrace your child as a learning executive

Know this: your child’s experience on and off line, in their world of peers and school campus and on-line communities will inform them differently than your own experience. It is critical that your child has a chance to express her views and discuss it with you with impunity. It is an opportunity for you to learn something about your child, and to impart wisdom.

Active listening. To make dissention work as a way to strengthen family bonds, practice the art of listening as “active listening”. To be an active listener, you repeat what you heard the family member say before you respond – especially if you disagree. Your children should be expected to do the same for you. This art of active listening is one of the best ways to demonstrate a culture of respect for the individual; and when individuals feel respected, as if “you get me”, in any community, there can be peace.

Assert parental authority that provides protective cover and respects free will

Adopt a family motto to reinforce the distinction between private and secret. In our home, the family motto with cyber technology became, “Inspect what you expect.” This particular motto reinforces that there is no privacy between parents and minor children. It is the parent’s business to know what is happening with their child, for the purpose of providing protective cover, not for controlling their life. While secrets, on the other hand, are kept because they cannot survive the light of day; they usually harbor risky behavior, and burdens. Therefore secrets should not be kept from parents.

If your child reveals a secret (about a peer or herself), then the most important thing parents can do is not freak out. Listen to what happened and secure help. If the police need to be involved and/or counseling, this is your opportunity to demonstrate the individual resiliency your child needs to emulate. Assure your child that dealing with life’s issues in the light of day, where truth can prevail, is the only way to end suffering and pain.



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 is the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on, a contributor for Three Moms and a Mike, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM, Tuesdays.


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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.