After ten years of fieldwork, research and personal experience it is clear that the nature of mobile connectivity places a new demand upon parents to prepare their children to be independent, or self-governing, at earlier ages in order to reap the benefits of and overcome the undue influences of internet tools and apps. The notion that parental control keeps kids cyber-safe is an illusion. It is learning self-discipline in the use of cyber tools where children will find personal security despite what is happening in their cyber social realms. This means they must learn how to think correctly, or discern truth in a landscape populated with dynamic social media and texting apps.
Apply correct thinking to oppose wrong circumstances
Below are some key concepts to prepare yourself and your child to understand how to discern truth which involves application of the correct thinking when confronted by wrong circumstances (witnessing or exposure to bullying, addiction or exploitation):
- 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.
- Trust v. faith: Trust among people is always verifiable, while faith is reserved for God who does not require proof. Too often children expect trust and privacy, which are dangerous – especially in their on-line worlds. When we put our faith in children to handle things without guidance, we leave them vulnerable to risky circumstances beyond their ability to respond with confidence.
- Forgive v. excuse: Forgiveness is liberty; is it’s the act of letting go of the offense in your own heart and mind when someone has hurt or offends you. It does not mean you excuse the offensive behavior, give in to it, or enable it. It does mean that you do not allow yourself to become emotionally and spiritually bonded to the offense. The most powerful way to hold an individual accountable is to be in a state of forgiveness because you are not thinking and acting like a victim and makes possible atonement and reconciliation.
To learn more go to: Reviving Parenthood
Related: Cyber Rites of Passage
Related: A parents’ guide to social media