On Being A Dad In A Digital Age

I’ve already had to tell my kid to remove some posts that were a bit too open. I’ve already had the talk about how the internet can ruin your life if you overshare. I’ll be making it a regular occurrence to sit down together and watch the SyFy series, "The Internet Ruined My Life."

We haven’t even gotten into cyberbullying yet. My kid’s school has had a problem with bullying over the years, and has taken steps to curtail it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t go on, or that some families believe that the rules don’t apply to them, or that kids don't find a way to do it anyway. Open discussion of why bullying is a problem, and how to prevent it, has had a strong effect at our school. Every kid now knows what bullying is.

I’m not so certain, however, about what goes on online. I mean, I can’t just tell my kid to stand up to the bully and punch him or her in the nose like we used to do when we were in school. How do you tell your kid to respond to cyberbullying, or to the fallout from something that shouldn’t have been posted, or the dangers of being too trusting while chatting with someone online? How do kids deal with a post gone wrong in class the next day?

I suppose the answer is the same in either case. Give the kid someone to talk to. Openly discuss the problems they face with their peers. Guide them with positive activities like sports, church, Scouting – character building activities that give them a positive direction and teach leadership skills. Be there. Be proactive. Know what they’re up to so that you’re not caught by surprise as a parent. Step in when necessary. Help them find solutions. Whether it’s online or in class, they face the same challenges. They’re trying to figure out this nutty world we live in, and trying to figure out who they are as individuals.

So maybe this really isn’t an article about how parenting has changed in a digital world. After all, trying to guide your kid through their awkward transitional phases in the world around us, well, that’s been going on since parenting was invented.

We just have to remember to watch out – the frog pox is around every corner