A recent Huffington post article featured 3 social media apps that offer “surprising” access to nudity: Kik messenger (a web based texting app),Vine and Tumblr. And it should be no surprise. Porn was the first industry to set up shop on the internet, and according to law enforcement officials interviewed over the years sexually explicit photos along with gossip and bullying are the most common things parents will find on children’s mobile phones. Witnessing or experiencing the adult issues (bullying, exploitation and addiction) is an integral part of the human condition on and off-line.
After ten years of fieldwork devoted to understanding what it means to grow up in a cyber-powered world and the new demands on parents, it is clear that the new demands on parents are as follows:
- Shed fear. The children are exposed to fear and fakery in the social network and in their on-line friend communities. They are seeking authenticity, which is fearlessness. When we are fearful, the children sense it and will hesitate to come home to unpack the things that are disturbing their peace, so we can impart the wisdom of our chosen faith and guide them in their cyber social realm.
- The best way to shed fear is to put your trust as a parent into the thoughts that empower others and bring about peace. In this regard, it is strategic to choose to come into alignment with the mustard seed of faith that makes a free society possible – that one benevolent Deity, one Creator of all humanity, one God, grants every human being (regardless of race or creed) intelligent life and free will, and that is power that can never be taken and is still easily surrendered. So it is with this mustard seed of faith that we can communicate to our children with confidence that our job is to teach them how not to give up their own power to the bully, the drug or the device. It is like telling them, you already have the “A”, now defend it.
- Get interested in who your child is and what interests her. This is imperative. Your child’s childhood is informing her radically different than that of your own. So it is imperative that you learn as much as you can about how their perceptions are being shaped by their experiences in their cyber social realm, and then you can offer to impart your wisdom. If your child is expressing something that concerns you, offer your thoughts. Ask her if she wants to know the thought on your heart concerning her interest, experience or situation, and then express it as an insight – not an order or directive. By expressing your thought as an insight, you are engaging their intellect in will so that they may consider the wisdom of your parent heart, and the chances are great that she will want to embrace it, cogitate and make it her own because you are authentic (not fearfully trying to manipulate her thinking).
- Thought leadership and wisdom. The most important thing a parent can do is to teach their child to think for himself especially when engaged in the social network, wherein it is otherwise easy to get caught up in the emotional thrall of sharing and seeking attention from the crowd. For we know that is by faith in a God who honors free will that we claim the power to choose our own beliefs and actions in all circumstances that are not in our control. In this way we might appreciate genuine love as a divine collaboration from the heart of God who is Love, and casts out fear. Hence, my faith tells me that God grants wisdom to every human being without finding fault, to those who lack it and seek it. (James 1:5).