Peg Scott is a professor of psychology at American River College in Sacramento, who knows all too well the heart ache of losing a child to the cyber-powered pressures of this world.
In 2010 her son, Will, took his own life. He was 18 years old.
“If I had one thing to do over again, it would be to monitor the computer and mobile phone,” Scott said. “We had the computer in the dinning room, but after a while I just became too trusting and I stopped paying attention. This technology is a double edged sword.”
Scott learned after her son’s death that he was being bullied and eventually the cyber communications consumed him and changed his perception to where he could not see getting past the pain he was experiencing. “This technology is so invasive,” she said. “It is addictive and at the same time it violates our basic right to privacy.”
And herein lays the dilemma for the modern parent-child bond. Keeping parents clueless (KPC) is the new norm. There is much confusion between trust (which must be verifiable among people), and faith (which requires no proof and we reserve for God). Kids expect to have privacy, and many are conditioned to think that parents who love them will trust them and not supervise or monitor their cyber communications. They incorrectly perceive complete autonomy for minors in the social network as parental love language.
Regardless of the social norms, the parent has the authority of protective cover for their children until the age of majority. This means we must respect their privacy by not sharing their personal stuff without permission, and at the same time not grant privacy because our children need parents to stay engaged.
Scott is hopeful that we can raise awareness among parents about the various ways our children’s mental health can suffer and remove the stigma of mental illness. She is an active board member of BRAVE Society, a bully prevention strategies non-profit in Carmichael. Below are some of pressures she observes our children experience which can contribute to hopelessness and depression:
- Media hype of false bravado. We tend to believe that the positive, glamorous images others post of themselves is their entire story making us feel worse about our own issues
- Adolescence is a very difficult, often painful time of life.
- Cyber communications is invasive - 24X7, difficult to escape, impacting our children’s ability to focus on the things that really matter, and lock on to things that are not true
- Family relationships interrupted/disconnected
- Desensitization (videos/video games)
Parental authority is a divine appointment to govern the home. We do not have control over our children’s lives. They too have God-given intelligent life and free will. Our job is to govern the home with rules and boundary setting that give our digital natives the opportunity to learn how to think for themselves and be resilient to the social and cyber pressures or our world.
For more about family-strategies for texting and social media, go to Banana Moments. If you have concerns about your child’s mental health, go to Therapeutic Solutions 360. To learn more about effective ways to address a bully problem with your child, go to BRAVE Society.
- Banana Moments: Help for Parenting in the Social Network
- The Authority In Me (parental authority in the social network)
- Therapeutic Solutions 360
- BRAVE Society
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