The digital landscape we are all navigating is dynamic. Change is the constant and happens fast. There are over one billion apps for Windows, Android and iOS devices – and more are created every day. Today’s popular app can be abandoned tomorrow or used in a different way. So when I meet with parents, invariably there is relief to learn that cyber safety has more to do with their own capacity to nurture a trustworthy relationship with their child than it has to do with mastering the technology. The children adapt so quickly to new technology, so it can be intimidating for parents who are less technically savvy than their children. And even the most tech savvy parents cannot easily stay on top of the innovative and clandestine ways kids can engage social networks.
The children are gravitating to photo-centric apps that they consider to be private; there is less emphasis on “going public” and more emphasis on sharing in small networks. And they are using multiple apps for different purposes. Many tweens and teens may use Facebook and Instagram to stay connected to parents, and adopt SnapChat or What’sAPP or an new emerging app to communicate with small peer groups.
Related reading: Five apps to keep on the parent radar
The perception that there is any privacy in this activity is dangerous because the exposure to nefarious and malicious agendas is great. Take this recent headline from a mom who posted an innocent photo of her eight-year-old son and his younger sisters in their Sunday best to Instagram. The photo was liked by a creep, called a “troll”, who turned her photo into an Internet meme (concept/or image) presenting her son as a pimp. See video below.
Below are two key concepts about being brave and the purpose of private so your child can be better prepared to make good decisions and involve you.
Brave v. risky: Both can make you feel discomfort. However, you are brave when you do the right thing even though you are afraid of displeasing your friends of being left out; while risky is ignoring your little voice warning you that it’s not right or dangerous.
Private v. secret: Private is when you decide not to disclose information about yourself in order to be safe. Privacy involves discretion and is active boundary setting. A secret, on the other hand, is something that is determined cannot survive the light of day because it is not acceptable: i.e., exploitive, harmful or illegal. Secrets nurture risky behavior.
For more about parenthood in a cyber-powered world go to Reviving Parenthood.
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)
- Follow Joanna @CyberParenting
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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.