Cyberparenting

The most important decision a parent will make is how and when to grant their child access to their own smartphone. It is a common question, which is often answered in an ad hoc way, by what is happening in other families. Usually there is extreme pressure because your child’s peers have already received their own smartphones, some as young as eight years old, and your child will want to have exactly what they have – now.

This is a defining moment for you and your child, and it will have consequences in the quality of your relationship as your child’s journey into adolescence and young adulthood.

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Below are some tips for making this decision:

Clarity about your role as the parent.  Your job as the parent is to teach your child how to be a good cyber-citizen, who is not easily duped by the negative influences of sexual exploitation, bullying and addictions hyped in the cyber social realm. You have authority to govern the home and educate your child on how to be secure. This is the authority of protective cover which never expires, but transforms from teacher to counselor and coach as your child learns how to take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions in every stage of their life. So there must be open communication and common user discipline between you and your child when you issue him his own smartphone, so that you can impart your wisdom as your child experiences the ups and downs of their own life on and off-line.

Establish clear criteria in your home for use of a smartphone. Much like preparing your child to drive a car, before you issue your child his/her own smartphone, he/she must understand the responsibility and good judgment that he/she must show you in how he/she responds to the limits and rules of your home, and how he/she treats others. This must be clear to your child, so that he/she can appreciate that this cyber connectivity is a privilege that comes from correct thinking and actions;  it is not a right.

Selecting the right smartphone. The smartphones are all very similar in functionality: voice, texting, camera, and access to download and operate apps. It is a mini-computer that wields great power to connect with people and ideas and experiences around the world. The best approach is to make a minimal investment in the device as a first time experience, and establish parental controls with house rules, including a time at the end of the day when your child turns in the phone. Therefore a simple android “go phone” will be sufficient initially.

Family-approved app list. Whatever phone you select, make sure that you and your child are in agreement on the parameters of use. For example, establish a “family-approved app listing” wherein you and your child have listed the apps that he has permission to download and use. Establish a house rule that you will randomly check the device to review the apps that are installed on your child’s phone. If your child protests that you are checking her phone, explain that you are building trust. That every time you catch your child doing something right, it builds trust. Eventually you will not be checking their phone as your child matures into young adulthood, because you expect him to grow up and become fully responsible for his own actions. Right now, you are training him on how not to give up power by getting caught in risky traps and downloading maleware that comes with free, strange apps.

Fundamentals for House Rules

Each family has a unique culture, as every individual is unique. For instance, they should

  • Consider Internet access and smart phones as a rite of passage – not a right.
  • No secrets, no surprises.
  • Transparency mandatory. Explain why the rule exits and how they benefit individuals and the family.
  • Regulate schedule and access to cyber tools (mobile phones and Internet).
  • Unplug phones at a designated time in the evening.
  • Only hit “send” if your mother could read it and be proud.
  • Establish and enforce consequences for rules violations.
  • Offer a clean slate after a consequence has been administered or experienced.

Excerpts From Joanna Jullien, Founder & CEO of Core Connectivity

 Tips To Ensure Security

1 Ensure Strong  Passwords on the phone

2  Install Security on All Devices

3  Schedule Regular Backups

4  Understand Your School’s BYOD Policy and Know Your Responsibilities

5  Consider a Digital Contract and Set Limits on Screen Time

6  Keep Up with the Social Media Your Kids are Using – and Talk About the Risks

Ensuring our kids are protected and safe online should be a top priority for our generation of parents.


Today’s parents are more worried about the possible harm technology will bring to their children than the benefits of it. Youths can develop hundreds of online relationships that range from the casual to intimate.

A recent article in the Daily Mail raises a good question about how well youth may be prepared to confront a lie or a manipulation in the social network. According to the report, Ofcom, an independent regulatory organization of communications industry in the United Kingdom, recently released results of a study that revealed children ages 12 to 15 years believe that what turns up in the search engine is true, and they are not discerning an advertisement from a well researched or reasoned publication or statement. And being so gullible, this raises concerns for more serious manipulations and exploitation including:

Pedophiles (child exploiters)

Scammers (identity theft criminals)

Jihadi recruiters (terrorist recruiters/inciters)

The concerns of this study are rooted in a simple truth: “When you stand for nothing, you fall for anything” (Alexander Hamilton).

What you and your child believe about the nature and origin of personal power matters more than ever in a hyper-connected world. At a very early age, children need to learn how to think for themselves; to recognize a lie when they encounter it.  And without training on thought leadership (which our chosen faith gives us), it is easy to believe things that are not true and focus on things that don’t really matter. Below are some examples of lies (the thoughts in the mind that when we choose to agree with them can lead us into risky traps):

The voice behind the stranger’s photo really cares about me.(Insecure)

In order to be intimate with a love interest, I must send an explicit photo of myself. (Insecure)

I have no future, no hope. There is no point in going on living.(Disenfranchised/depressed)

The lies torment the soul. They are real experiences that can murder the truth if we allow it in our own minds. When we agree with them, they distort an individual’s perceptions to inspire anxiety which impacts psychological and emotional well being. So we want our children prepared to meet the fear and fakery of the internet with the confidence of knowing where their own power comes from, and that the internet is a tool for communicating all things true and not true, good and evil. They need to know that they are divinely equipped to learn how to respond to people and experiences in the social network without giving up power to the wrong thought, desire, person or group.

Tips to discern opinion, ad hype, manipulation and wisdom

Empower yourself to empower your child. First, you as the parent must be clear in your own heart and mind about your child’s power, (on and off line), to learn how to overcome undue influence. What is your motive? What is your desire? To prepare the road for the child, or prepare the child for the road?

The individual resilience our children require to navigate internet-powered landscapes comes from the spiritual wisdom of your chosen faith. I have come to understand this as an executive movement within the individual heart and mind, starting with the mustard seed of faith that makes a free society possible in the first place. One benevolent God, one Creator of all of humanity, grants every soul command and control over their own intellect and will. This is power over thoughts and actions that can never be taken but is easily surrendered to the bully, drug or device.

This means that at a very early age children can and must be expected to take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions.

The seminal question for the modern parent is simply this: with all of the reasons we have to be anxious and afraid about the bullying, exploitation and addictive influences of the social network, do you really believe that your child has power of his or her own soul and can choose to learn how to take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions?

Cyber Parenting ChallengeImpart the spiritual wisdom of your chosen faith. Your opinion and wisdom are not the same thing. Your opinion is your limited understanding of a person, situation or circumstance and it has value, but it is still not all knowing for all time. Wisdom, on the other hand, comes from the heart of God, who is Divine Love, which is infinite in all knowledge, caring for the soul, and eternal. Wisdom does not change. Hopefully our opinions evolve and mature as we grow in wisdom with life lessons about learning to love one another fearlessly as God does.

So it is important to be clear when you are responding to a situation or a circumstance that you do not communicate your opinion as gospel. When you are expressing an opinion, state this is how I understand it, and then when you are bringing the wisdom of your faith into it refer to Scripture and let you child think about it and decide for himself what to believe.

Recognizing the lies. I have learned that the truth is simple, and brings about peace. While lies tend to be complex and stir negativity – they torment the soul. Because of free will, in the world a lie can become a real experience murdering the truth in our own minds if we allow it. So it is critical that we teach our children to understand that something is only true if you allow it to be true in your own mind. This is the power of the soul, to choose what thoughts to focus on, to put your trust in and then govern your response.

When something happens that disturbs your child’s peace, have her write down the thought. And then write down the opposite thought. The opposite thought is God’s opinion on the situation. This is the hope of our faith. That God’s strategy is to pull good from evil for the faithful. It is a matter of standing your ground regarding your truth. Do you agree with God or do you agree with the bully? It is a decision that every person must make for him or herself.

This ability to declare God’s truth for you and your child is especially important when kids do fall into risky traps (drugs, sexual exploitation or addiction). If your child has been compromised by their own decisions and/or the actions of others, it is critical that you as the parent can declare that your child is a divine idea in the mind of God despite the real experiences murdering the truth, and encourage them to seek to pursue this truth in their own minds so they too can set aside shame, and change the course of their life.

To learn more about creating a family culture characterized by trust, open communication and fosters individual resilience, check out this workbook for parents: Fresh Start Family Culture Builder for Household Executives.

By Joanna Jullien

Banana Moments

With the Internet being so prevalent and widely available all over the world, it has made viewing pornography much easier than in the past.

Pornography is everywhere. Statistics leave our heads spinning about how many pornographic sites are on the Web today, how many new porn sites go live every day, and how huge, powerful, and pervasive the pornographic video industry is. According to statistics, about 12% of the internet is pornographic websites and about 42% of internet users view porn.

The revenue of the pornography industry is said to be larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined and porn is only a click away. If you want it, you can find it quicker than quick. Even when you are not looking for it, it sometimes pops up on its own.

These days, more and more younger people are becoming, often accidentally, exposed to pornography as a large percentage of young people are very Internet savvy.

With the advent of the Internet, parents are finding it increasingly difficult to shield their children from pornography. Now, in addition to the exposure kids might encounter from classmates who “borrowed” one of their father’s magazines, most school-age children and adolescents are spending large amounts of time online for homework or for entertainment.

The problems of teenage pornography and sex addictions are real, devastating, and increasing. When faced with their teen’s struggle, most parents don’t know where to begin to get their child the help he or she needs.

No healthy parent wants to think about his child viewing pornography, but it often happens. Some researchers have stated that the average age of exposure to pornography is down to eight. Before the days of the Internet, children were typically between the ages of eleven to thirteen when they began by viewing soft-core pornography found in magazines like Playboy. Statistics show that 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to Internet porn before the age of18.

It is also extremely important that parents not direct all their efforts toward their sons at the expense of their daughters. Pornography and other sexualized media can adversely affect girls as well as boys and often leads to significant damage in their ability to form healthy relationships later as an adult.

Effects Of Porn

Porn is dangerous to the core. It sucks every bit of truth, contentment, honesty, character, loyalty, and reality out of the mind and soul of the one plugging into it.

Porn leaves people feeling hopeless, guilty, and ashamed. The people who struggle with addiction to porn are not only oddball, sadistic, perverted teens but also every day, honor-roll, churchgoing, love-their-parents, striving-to-live-for-Jesus teens.

Porn changes a teens view of the opposite sex as he or she eventually stops seeing people as God sees them and begin seeing them merely as a means by which desires can be fulfilled. Pornography turns other people into objects of lust.

If your teen dates, typically it will only be a matter of time before he or she becomes more physical with the dating partner. The fantasy world being downloaded into his or her mind will fight to turn itself into reality by encouraging your teen to use people to fulfill personal lusts. And as your son or daughter tries to act out the sexual behaviors seen online, the perceived need for self-gratification will damage not only your teen’s relationships during the dating years but also his or her relationship with a future mate.

As more and more children are exposed not only to soft-core pornography, but also to explicit deviant sexual material, they are learning an extremely dangerous message from pornographers: Sex without responsibility is acceptable and desirable. Because pornography encourages sexual expression without responsibility, it endangers children’s health.

Exposure to Pornography May Incite Children to Act Out Sexually against Other Children. Children often imitate what they’ve seen, read, or heard. Studies suggest that exposure to pornography can prompt kids to act out sexually against younger, smaller, and more vulnerable children. Experts in the field of childhood sexual abuse report that any premature sexual activity in children always suggests two possible stimulants: experience and exposure. This means that the sexually deviant child may have been molested or simply exposed to sexuality through pornography

Exposure to Pornography Shapes Attitudes and Values: Most of us caring, responsible parents want to instill in our children our own personal values about relationships, sex, intimacy, love, and marriage. Unfortunately, the powerful irresponsible messages of pornography may be educating our children on these very important life issues. Just as thirty-second commercials can influence whether or not we choose one popular soft drink over another, exposure to pornography shapes our attitudes and values and, often, our behavior.

How Do Protect/Help My Teen

If your teen is struggling with porn, he or she will need your help. As a parent, it’s difficult to protect your children from all of life’s harms, but there are definitely ways in which you can prevent your child from becoming a victim of the Internet porn industry.

Parents need to realize that their teen is likely suffering from extreme shame and embarrassment. Authoritarian dictates are not likely to encourage your child to open up and share the extent of his or her struggles. Compassionate love and understanding, such as Jesus demonstrated to the woman caught in adultery, is likely to help your child feel safe enough to disclose the full story.

 

  • One of the best preventative steps is simply not allowing your child access to a computer or Internet-enabled device in a private setting. Computers in their bedrooms should be a definite no-no. Any Internet that your child accesses at home should be in a very public room, like the family living room.
  • You can also install software that will block all the pornographic websites and only allow the appropriate websites to be viewed. Another thing that you can do is to set your internet setting to a high security. This will lower the amount of potential adult pop ups that pornographic sites use to entice people to visit their sites.
  • Talk with your child and get to the Facts straight. Many parents talk about porn and sexuality with their teen but do it only indirectly. Don’t dance around the issue. Get right to the point. Be specific. Share with your teen the effects porn will have on his or her life. Even if you do not suspect your teen is involved in porn, don’t wait to have such a talk. Remember, if your teen spends time online, it is inevitable that at some point he or she will be exposed to the raw, filthy, multibillion-dollar-a-year business of porn.
  • Let your teen know you love him or her but hate the Sin. Your teen needs to know that, though you disagree with his or her actions, your ultimate desire is to help your child defeat this addiction and be restored to a pure life.
  • Realize That a Promise Isn’t Enough: For a teen struggling with porn, a promise to change isn’t enough. You need to help your teen make the promise a reality.
  • Develop a Strategy for the Future: It is unrealistic to think that just because you remove sources of temptation from the home, your teen will never again be tempted to use porn. So it’s important for you to develop a strategy for your teen, while both inside and outside the home, to help him or her avoid repeating an addictive behavior.
  • Establishing a routine. Your teen needs to see the importance of a disciplined, routine schedule. The key here is not to isolate your teen from his daily activities, hobbies, and interests completely. But setting boundaries on what he or she can do will help your teen develop a greater sense of security. Work to help your teen’s schedule stay full enough so that his or her mind remains occupied. Chores, sports, a part-time job, volunteering, and more can be helpful outlets.
  • Approving friendships. One teen told me that his mom and dad found out he was checking out porn at home, so they removed the computer from his room. Then he started checking it out at his best friend’s house. Remember, your teen’s friends play a huge role in his or her decision making. Choosing friends who are in line with God’s will for your teen’s life is a critical step to overcoming the temptations to check out porn.
  • Establishing goals. Develop a set of goals your teen strives to achieve. As he or she proves trustworthy, the teen will then be granted more freedom. Use this as an encouragement to help your teen see progress.
  • If you are a Christian get Your Teen into the Word. A key to killing the addiction to porn in the heart and mind of your teen rests in the teen’s own commitment to consistently spend time in God’s Word. Continually encourage your teen to spend time with God, praying and reading the Bible.
  • You also need to pray Like Crazy: The greatest strategy that you can implement to protect your teen from Satan’s lies about pornography (and everything else the Enemy throws at him or her) is prayer.

A final Word

If we really believe that sin is a powerful barrier between our child and God, we will move past a mere “sin management” approach to mentor them into a loving relationship with us and, more importantly, with God. Wherever pornography or sexual sin is found, whether in the lives of our children or in our own, we can surrender ourselves and those we love to the greater care and compassion of our Father. His purity remains and cleanses us.

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