In a recent Times-Herald article about children and social media, parents are encouraged to focus cyber safety efforts around their own values to help children avoid the pitfall of believing that only fame and money matter.
This article also recommends that parents first be clear about their own values, and then engage children directly by observing how they use technology.
And yet anyone who has tweens or teens using cyber tools will tell you that this is a lot easier said than done.
Texting and social media are very seductive and inspire a sense of autonomy that can be difficult to overcome. Cyber communications are clandestine and it is easy for kids to believe the wrong things and to keep secrets no matter how much we talk about our personal values. So the challenge for the modern parent is more than being present (which may be easily confused with micromanaging).
In fact it is more about becoming a welcome presence.
Civil liberty is the ultimate cyber safety app
Over the past decade of fieldwork and research, I have come to appreciate that we are all being conditioned very differently for authority – especially the children.
Children today experience authority as more of a relational experience because formal authority expressed in positions like president, parent and teacher carry less gravitas in the network culture. And this is the crux of the matter for parents who are concerned about managing their child’s exposure to cyber tools and networks.
It is an understanding gap about personal power that both the parent and child must learn through fearless collaboration.
Navigating the freedoms of the network requires the same mustard seed of faith that makes a free society possible: God grants to the individual intelligent life and free will, therefore power is something that cannot be taken from you, but you can easily surrender it in a world that tries to convinces us that our source of power originates from a bank account or media attention.
This mustard seed of faith depicting inherent authority, this authenticity, is an app for the heart and mind that makes it possible to be self governing in all circumstances. This is the primary objective for our children’s lifelong security.
So the fundamental cyber safety question parents need to address is: do you believe in this civil liberty model of authority for yourself and your child? If you do not have confidence in your child’s inherent authority to steer their own ship (heart and mind), then you as a parent are left with fearful micro-management or abdication.
When we establish house rules and talk about family values with this understanding that our God-given liberty to think for ourselves is an app for the heart and mind that enables the wise use of free will, this is how boundary-setting at home becomes empowerment for the parent and child.
And then parental guidance is more welcome than it is not.
For more about creating a family culture rooted in good faith, go to: A Google World in the Garden of Eden.
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