Archive for October, 2013

Why Parents Must be Social Media Savvy

Recently, my husband and I taught a course at our church on parenting and family life.  While updating statistics for one of the sessions, I was struck by the now-absolute imperative for parents: the need to be savvy about social media.

That word, by the way, means shrewd or discerning.                                                              socialmedclock

Consider:

  • There are more than half a billion internet-enabled devices in American homes.
  • Overlapping use of those devices adds up to an average of 43 hours per day per household.
  • A report in the Washington Post in March of this year states that today’s teenager spends about 7 ½ hours a day consuming media.
  • Among 8-18 year olds, 71% have a television in their rooms.  Only 53% of those households have any established rules for viewing.
  • How many know how to hide what they do online from their parents? 67%
  • How many have given out personal info to someone they don’t know?  55%

And research in 2005 showed one in three 10-17-year-olds surveyed had been exposed to unwanted pornography, much of which included images of people engaged in sex acts or acting out in sexually deviant or violent ways.

 What to do?

  • Understand technology and its shortcoming. Know what social media sites your child’s cell phone plan allows him or her to access.
  • Be sure you have their passwords/access to their online pages or communications.
  • You should be able to limit or disable certain features for added peace of mind. Content blocking software is great, but not foolproof – and certainly no substitute for parental vigilance.
  • Spot check frequently.
  • Set clear guidelines. You might even make a contract with your kids regarding their cell or internet use. Help them see the need to be accountable.
  • Make the rules fit the child. A younger child or less mature teen may require more regulation online than his siblings or friends. Whether or not it seems “fair,” your specialized rules may protect children from stumbling upon situations they are ill-equipped to handle.

These safeguards will be far more effective when you have good communication with your child.  Parents who are intentional about strong relationships with their kids will find navigating the tricky terrain of social media less troubling.

We only get to raise them once. Helping them be smart and responsible users of social media is now, like it or not, part of responsible parenting.

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How I Failed a Pop Quiz on Default Behavior

You remember those mornings in high school. Teacher finishes taking roll, stands up and writes on the board:

PQuiz

You’ve been listening in class. Sort of. Taking notes. Usually. Doing your homework. Pretty much.

Now  you’ll prove it.

I failed a Pop Quiz on Default Behavior the other day. Badly.

It all starts when I volunteer to prepare a light breakfast for our Men’s Retreat. This is an annual one-day event at our church.

CTLogoCT is on Fulton Road in Santa Rosa, California. This is vital information.

I get everything ready early in the morning. Fruit, croissants, eggs to boil, Li’l Smokies in the crockpot.

We live exactly 6 1/2 minutes from the church. My daughter, Jessica, who is graciously helping, takes the eggs and sausages and leaves a few minutes before me.

I have just left the house when she calls to say the streets are closing due to a “bike race.”

Uh oh.

Our beautiful Sonoma County is a magnet for wine lovers, redwood tree enjoyers, and bikers. You see bikers frequently on our roads and lanes, pedaling along all hunched over, looking quite serious.

Oh, boy.

Oh, boy.

And every fall there is a huge biking event in our fair county called Levi’s GranFondo. It draws 7,500 participants who spend the day riding the county on staggered courses. Streets are closed. Detour signs, no-right-turn signs, and don’t-even-think-about-it signs sprout early on a Saturday morning.           Don'tEvenThink

DetourNoRtTurn

It passes right by CT. We had forgotten it was THIS Saturday.

Take Marlow to West College, Jessica says.

On the way, I check a couple of other possible streets to Fulton. Closed. I approach West College, which is just being sealed off.

I am puzzled. They can’t keep me from actually getting to CT.

Can they?

When the traffic person begins waving us through – in the wrong direction – I slow and ask, how do I get to Fulton? She seems flustered and tells me to check streets that, it turns out, I’ve already checked. I explain this, somewhat calmly. Just go, she says finally, with an abrupt wave.

I go.

If only.

If only.

I’m on the phone with my husband, who hasn’t yet ventured into this Brave New Morning. Sorry, I don’t know what to tell you, he says. You can’t help me? Shall I ram the barriers? Helicopter in? I HAVE THE REST OF YOUR BREAKFAST!

At one detour I see a huge group of bikers rush past like a spandex nightmare. The traffic person with whom I plead for help assures me that is the main batch and streets will open soon.

I drive on. At one point, I see a biker stopped at a yard sale. Something about it infuriates me. He is looking at tchotchkes while GranFondo and his weird-helmeted friends are seriously fouling up my morning.

It occurs to me that I’m in Dante’s 10th circle of hell without a bicycle.

On the phone with my husband again. You could have cut through the gas station on the corner near the church, he says, having already arrived at CT. This revelation makes me feel like an idiot. It should have occurred to me. When I was over there. 35 minutes ago. And the fact that he is already at the church is Just Wrong.

Gaskets. Blowing.

Gaskets. Blowing.

Frustration is beginning to loosen the little gaskets in my brain.

Ten minutes later I’m back at the gas station, circumventing the detour, and pulling into the CT parking lot.

Inside, my daughter has the serving area prepared, smokies are heated, eggs are boiled, a pot of coffee is ready.

Instead of being grateful and gracious, my 40 minutes of being detoured and waved off and no-right-turned blows the gaskets and I’m teary and furious and, well, it was ridiculous.

What’s wrong with you? A tiny piece of rationality has survived the tempest in my brain. Why didn’t you simply stop at some point and think about what you were doing? The operative word here, by the way, is think.

Fact is, I was reminded of some important truths after this little test:

  • My opinion of the circumstances had no bearing on the fact of the circumstances.
  • Stopping and thinking would have given me time to cool down, consider the options, and communicate calmly.
  • I would then have been able to arrive at my destination having accepted that an event was occurring over which I had no control.

Now I have all that messy repenting and apologizing to do. And I will marinate in my chagrin for the rest of the day.

And by the way:

  • Shouldn’t we be wise enough to recognize how the enemy exploits our default behaviors?
  • Shouldn’t we also be wise enough to modify our default behaviors?*

Yes.

Time to be better prepared for the next test.

*Not rhetorical questions. I’d love your thoughts. Please click on “Leave a Comment” above.

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