(This is a reprint from my Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com).

Photo: Christi Benz

Photo: Christi Benz

In a recent Atlantic article, technology reporter Alexandra Samuel offers insights cleaned about cyber parenting styles based upon a recent survey of over 10,000 parents in Northern America. She concludes there are three types of parents when it comes to responding to technology: limiters (folks who discourage use of technology), enablers (little to no supervision of technology use) and mentors (who provide oversight and guidance). One of Samuel’s findings is that the children whose parents focused on limiting use of technology had more problems with bullying and access to porn, because they did not receive proper instruction about cyber-safe social skills.

Grooming children for the social network is a tremendous challenge for the modern parent, largely because mobile connectivity introduces a power crisis that previous generations have not experienced. In many ways we are traveling unchartered territory of the heart and mind when it comes to the choices we make as parents with regard to access and regulated use of technology. Truly whoever has the device must learn how to think like the quarterback.

Because the technology makes it easy for kids to keep secrets by accessing apps and websites without permission, parenting today requires open communication, which is more than simple compliance, and which cannot happen without trust that is built through shared experiences over time. To that end, one of the things that would be most helpful is to have are boundaries that can serve as “cyber rites of passage” to prepare children as they mature into trustworthy “cyber citizens” on and off line.

Cyber rites of passage involve setting limits as well as providing instruction about rules of conduct that characterize a trustworthy user of technology. These thresholds of cyber maturity enable the parent to say “when and how” a child will gain more on-line independence and autonomy. Below are some of the cyber-rites of passage criteria that can help parents engage the intellect and will of their child and prepare them to be secure, responsible users of apps and devices.

  • Tiny tot – limited use of screen, closely monitored; infants and toddlers need interface time more than screen time.
  • Early Ranger (3-5 years) – The device should be used with strict supervision; the child should not be left alone with the device. No passwords granted.
  • Ranger (6-10 years) – Devices issued much lime checking out a library book and there is general oversight.
  • Junior Explorer (11-15 years) – At this point, your child understands the importance of setting boundaries regarding personal information, and permission for using apps. Texting is permitted with monitoring; introduce social media with regular monitoring. Parents have all passwords
  • Explorer (16 years and older) – Should be competent and trustworthy on social media. At this point your child appreciates that there is no privacy, and that you will be conducting random checks on texts and posts to social media.

(BMB-0249)

ABOUT:  Banana Moments Foundation is a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. The BMF 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 BMF proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your Donations are greatly appreciated.

Joanna Jullien (Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

As the Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner, my personal mission is to educate and inspire parents from all walks of life and social settings to realize their inherent authority to govern the home and educate the child about their own power; the personal power that comes from the spiritual resilience of your chosen faithAnd so I write for Examiner.com to express the passion of my mother heart to a diverse audience.