In the social network it is easy to believe things that are not true and focus on things that really don’t matter. While it has always been true that peer communities influence thinking that is not necessarily correct, and that seeking validation from peers is a recipe for insecurity, in the cyber social realm the risk of being completely consumed by ideas and experiences that disturb our peace is intensified. At earlier ages kids are exposed to ideas and images that are very convincing experiences and beneath them. They include:
- To express affection to a love interest, a naked photo is required
- Sexual objectification of humanity via internet porn and gratuitous sex images
- Violence is a sign of strength or might
- Bullying and general attacks on the individual are the norm – it is safer to say nothing, and do nothing than to stand up for the individual
- Feelings of isolation and hopelessness
- The number of likes in response to a post become the source of validation
These are the adult issues of bullying, addiction and exploitation; they are the lies that can become real experiences murdering the truth about the divine nature of humanity if we allow it in our own minds. When our children witness these experiences or are engaged in relationships characterized by these power and control issues, they are vulnerable to feelings of shame and guilt which kills communication. When there is no communication about personal power, the child becomes isolated (in their own heart and mind) and this isolation in their inner world is a breeding ground for anxiety, depression and hopelessness. In terms of family culture, this is what it means to have a “house divided” — everyone alone, together.
The most important thing the modern parent can do to prepare children for the cyber realm is to shed their own fear so they can become a trusted resource to discuss the things that disturb the peace, and then impart their spiritual wisdom. Below are some considerations for parents to become the trusted resource for youth to defend their own liberty from the power and control issues amplified in the social network:
- Parents put your trust into the thoughts that result in peace. Consider the mustard seed of faith that makes a free society possible. One Sovereign Deity, one God grants every individual intelligent life and free will – and that is power that cannot be taken, but can easily be surrendered. The question is, do you trust God’s decision to grant your child this power? If you do not put your trust into this mustard seed of faith, then you are at risk of fearful desires to control your child and their childhood / teenagehood experiences which kills open communication.
- Consider that you as the parent have divine authority to govern the home, not the child. Your child is self-governing by the grace of God – an emerging executive learning how to use her personal power wisely. The question is, does your child realize this? Or does your child perceive that other circumstances in the world are in control of their thoughts and decisions? The sooner your child realizes that they already have power and the challenge is to learn how not to give up power to the bully, the drug or the device, the more receptive she will be to receive your wisdom about personal security.
- Encourage your child to come to you and write down the negative thought or experiences that are disturbing their peace. Then cross them out and write down the opposite thoughts which are good and pleasing to the soul. This is also an opportunity for you to impart your wisdom about the troubling circumstances. Encourage your child to declare their truth to be the good thoughts, and then coach her to put her mental and spiritual resources to work; to pray for the wisdom to take the necessary steps to put the positive thoughts into action. If your child is experiencing consequences from poor choices, encourage him to think about the consequences as temporary life lessons that do not define him unless he allows it in his own mind. Encourage your child to think about the things he will do differently to live a good life – as a result of experiencing negative consequences.