(This article is reprint from my Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com)
Whatever your religious beliefs, the universal truth for every human being is the desire to be free from thoughts and experiences that torment the soul. And it is also true that a mother is as happy as her least happy child. So there can be great fear and anxiety for parents dealing with tech-savvy kids who are natural users of apps and devices, but lack the wisdom of life experiences needed to respond to some of the most cruel and sophisticated bully and exploitation agendas of others. And so to respond to this human need to seek and find a measure of peace in a hyper-connected world featuring fear and fakery, a Parent University was established at St. Joseph Marello Catholic Church to serve people of all faiths, free of charge.
The premise of this parent education program is the mustard seed of faith that makes a free society possible: one benevolent God, the Creator of humanity, grants every individual power over their own intellect and will and that is something that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. With this agreement, the role of the parent in a hyper-connected world is to educate the child how to recognize and apply their own boundary-setting power to reap the benefits of (enhanced learning and collaboration) and overcome the undue influence of the network culture (bullying, addiction and exploitation).
Last week, the topic was about bully prevention and intervention tips for home and school. Bob Lyons, Ed.D, Director of Technology for Nevada Joint Union High School District, shared California Healthy Kids Survey data with parents and counselors indicating that the cyberbully experiences increase as the level of parental involvement decreases in the middle school and high school years. This trend points to a need for more guidance because the power of mass communications with cyber tools can inspire cruelty as kids struggle with insecurity during the adolescent years.
Below are three of the insights imparted about the inherent authority of parents to educate their tech-savvy kids by imparting the wisdom of their chosen faith.
- Nothing is true unless you allow it in your own mind. Now more than ever, perception is reality and the children must learn that they alone are responsible for their own thoughts and actions regardless of what is happening. The most important thing modern parents can do, is create a home environment where it is perceived as a safe place to unpack the experiences that inspire shame, guilt and fear so that you, the parent can listen, and then impart the spiritual wisdom of your chosen faith.
- Prepare your child for cyber cruelty. The world can be very cruel, and so it is important to teach your children to be kind and also how they can respond to the cyberbully in a confident way that can diffuse the power vacuum of the bully. Keep in mind this only works if you agree that your child has the power to choose their own thoughts, regardless of how cruel people can be. You as the parent cannot fake it. For example, we can encourage a child to think about what Jesus would say to the cyberbully: “I’d agree with you, but then we would both be wrong.”
- Distinguish between conflict and bullying. Conflict is a normal part of learning to get along and dealing with disagreements and there is no perceived power imbalance. Bullying is intentional systemic, harassment involving one or more people to attack an individual or group. There is a perceived power disparity; the intent is to intimidate, dominate, humiliate, isolate and harm the individual. It is a mindset of powerlessness that is governed by fear and hate. If your child is dealing with a bully dynamic, go to BRAVE Society to learn more about engaging the school administration to pursue justice for everyone involved – the aggressor, target and bystanders. Bullying happens because everyone involved agrees with the victim mentality that inspires it.
(Disclosure: This Parent University is an initiative of Core Connectivity, founded by this examiner.)
About: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your donations are greatly appreciated. (Donations are payable to Banana Moments Foundation).
Joanna Jullien is an educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. Trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, she is a mother of two grown sons, an author of books on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture, and produces the Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com.
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