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PATHFINDER Parenting:

Tools for Raising Responsible Children
By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.
T - Tracking Pathfinder Structures for Children
4.0 Structures for Use of Electronic Devices by Children

4.1. Use of Electronic Devices used as logical consequence

Pathfinders utilize permission to utilize electronic devices (watch TV or DVD's, listen to radio or stereo, and play with computer or video games) as logical consequences for a variety of behaviors. For this reason they do not give permission to use these electronic devices freely and guard the scheduling and duration of their usage. They limit the hours of their usage so as to prevent over-dependency on them for babysitting or diversionary entertainment. Because Pathfinders allow the use of these devices as a privilege rather than as a right the children recognize that they must earn the use of them. These children do not become overly addicted to them and have the ability to use them in a rational and reasonable way.

Natural consequences:

  • If you are freely given permission to use the electronic device (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) at home, then you might be led to believe that it is your right rather than a privilege to use them.
  • If you are able to use the  electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) with no restriction on their use you might become fixated, addicted, or dependent on them for your source of entertainment or leisure.
Logical consequences:
  • If you do not earn the right to use the electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) on a specific day, then you will not be allowed on that day to use them.
  • If, one day, you are unwilling to do those things which are outlined for you to do to earn the use of the electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) then you will not be allowed to use them on that day.

4.2. Placement of electronic devices

Pathfinders are cautious to not make their children's private rooms electronic entertainment centers. They do not place any of these devices in their children's rooms so as to prevent the rooms from being a desired hide away. The devices are preferably kept in public rooms so that the parents can control their access and utilization. If devices are placed in private rooms their scheduled use and accessibility are controlled by the parents within the family meetings. If the children are over using these devices they are removed and placed in public rooms.

Natural consequences:

  • If you over use the electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) which have been placed in your private room, then they will be removed to a public room.
  • If the electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) placed in your private room are not shared with the rest of the family, then they will be place in public rooms for access to all family members.

Logical consequences:

  • If you are sent to your private room as a negative consequence, then you will not be allowed to use the electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) which are in that room.
  • If you do not share the use of the electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) which are in public rooms, then you will not be allowed to use them on the day you were refusing to share their use.

4.3. Scheduled usage of electronic devices

Pathfinders set hours in each day in which the various electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) can be utilized. They attempt to limit the usage of each device to no more than one hour at a time. There is a scheduled family electronic device usage (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) hour(s) nightly, when the electronic device(s) in the main public room is turned on to a pre-scheduled family designated programming, predetermined in the family meetings. There is no attempt to allow the children to participate in another electronic program other than the designated one(s). If they do not wish to participate in designated electronic program the family has chosen they are free during the hour(s) to use the other available electronic devices or read on their own. The electronic devices are turned off as much as possible by Pathfinders to encourage their children to find alternatives which require their self-reliance and creativity.

Natural consequences:

  • If you become dependent on electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) as your only source of leisure outlet, then your creativity, imagination, and intellectual functioning will become stunted.
  • If you do not limit the use of electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) you could become dependent on them and become a limited person in using your intellectual, emotional, and physical capabilities to their fullest.

Logical consequences:

  • If you do not follow the prescribed schedule of the day for the use of electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.), then you will not be allowed to use them on that day or on following days based on the severity of the violation.
  • If you are unwilling to participate in the prescribed family program utilization of electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.), then you will have to occupy yourself during that time with some activity of your choosing which does not involve use of any electronic device.

4.4. Benefits of electronic devices

Pathfinders emphasize with their children the benefits to be derived from judicious use of the electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) in the home. They point out the timely news available on regular networks with the educational benefits of public television programming. They also watch the TV schedule for family oriented fare which can be scheduled in the family TV time. The parents use these programs as topics for discussion at family meetings and meals. The computer and computer games are encouraged to enhance eye hand coordination and abstract problem solving. The DVD/DVR provides the family with the ability to record worthwhile shows for latter play. They are also able to use the DVD to watch movie classics which can enhance family values. The mp3, radio and stereo provide children with an outlet to experience a whole range of music which their parents expose them to from an early age. Music choice in family life is an open discussion in Pathfinders' families. The children are free to choose their own as long as they have been exposed to the whole range from the classics to punk and from waltzes to rap.

Natural consequences:

  • If you abuse the use of electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.), then you will not be able to enjoy the intellectual, creative and informational benefits they offer you.
  • If you do not demonstrate a reasonable approach to the use of electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.), then you will not be reflecting an understanding of their benefit to you and you will need to be prohibited from their use until you can comprehend their importance in your life.

Logical consequences:

  • If you spend too much time with a particular device, then we will limit your access to it.
  • If you abuse the privilege of use of the electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) in our house, then you will be limited to specific times for their use

4.5. Purchase of electronic devices
Pathfinders make a point to limit the number of electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) in the home. They do not purchase electronic equipment for private room placement. If however children do want electronic equipment for their private use they are allowed to buy it on their own as long as they agree to the time schedules and guideline set in the home. Pathfinders try not to over indulge their children with electronic equipment which they do not need. If additional electronic equipment comes into the home, it is placed in public rooms for all family members to enjoy. Family Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc. are the rule and norm in Pathfinders' homes. Individually owned electronic equipment is there only because of the willingness of the children to cover their costs and use them within family limits. Parents may have their own electronic equipment in their bedrooms and offices based on business necessity or need for occasional privacy from the family. Pathfinders are careful not to role model poor habits of addictive behaviors with electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) which they have in their private rooms.

Natural consequences: 

  • If you do not have the money to purchase additional electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) for your private use, then you will have to learn to make do and share the electronic devices in the public rooms with the rest of the family. 
  • If you are able to purchase additional electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) for your private use in your own room, then you will be expected to use them within the guidelines agreed to in family meetings. If you abuse the privilege, then you will be restricted from using the private equipment.
Logical consequences: 
  • If you want an electronic device (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) for private use in your private room, then you will need to come up with the money to purchase it and then use it according to prescribed schedule and family guidelines. If you abuse the privilege, then you will be restricted in the use of the device. 
  • If we are purchasing an electronic device (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.) for family use in the public rooms and you want to have an upgraded version, then you will need to come up with the money to purchase the upgrade and then be willing to share the device with the whole family.

4.6. Potential negative impact of electronic devices

Pathfinders are careful to point out to their children the negative impact of the electronic devices (Computer, TV, DVD, IPod, IPad, MP3, computer games, etc.). The violence and abuse in the movies, computer games and on TV is translated by Pathfinders to their children as aberrations of life which need to be avoided. The explicit language and sexual behaviors in these art forms are also discussed openly by these parents with their children. Pathfinders make it a point to know what their children are listening to, playing with, or watching. They then discuss the explicit material if any with them. These parents prevent their children from being exposed to the explicit material until they reach a reasonable age in which they can intellectually and emotionally discuss and cope with it. Pathfinders are very cautious to insure their children are not exposed to X or R rated material on Cable TV, DVD’s, Computer Games or on the internet, by either putting a limit on its usage or not having it brought into the home. Pathfinders are cautious however not to over react if their children do see an explicit show. They rather use this show as an opportunity to educate their children and discuss the material openly with them. Pathfinders know that violence, sex, and questionable moral behaviors in programs are only influential on children if they are not fully discussed and explored with them. By parental guidance and understanding, these children are allowed to find out that there are people in the real world who do not follow and adhere to the morals and spiritual values of their families. Turning a potentially negative influence on children into a positive opportunity for learning and growth is the goal of Pathfinders in dealing with negative material in the electronic community.

Natural consequences:

  • If we do not fully discuss the violence, explicit sex, and questionable moral behaviors on TV, in computer games, on the internet and in movies, then you may be misled that these are acceptable behaviors for you to emulate. 
  • If we do not monitor what you are exposed to in the electronic media, then we will be forced to deal with their negative impact on you over time.

Logical consequences: 

  • If you persist in seeking out morally objectionable material to watch, then we will limit your availability to the TV, movies, computer games, the internet and DVD's 
  • If you persist on going into other's homes where you can view objectionable material, then we will limit your freedom to visit those home in the future.

Extra Attention is Needed by Parents to the Online Pronography Problem

 

Exposure to pornography is probably unavoidable as long as kids have access to the internet be it by computer, smart phones, ipads, iphones etc, but pornography problems are preventable. Recent accounts report that children as young as 8 years of age have been exposed to pornography online. 

 

As online pornography/sex materials expanded, a study in 2016 found links between Internet addiction, engagement in online erotica (including pornography usage and usage of sex-based Internet chat sites), and engagement in risky online sexual behaviors (sending sexually-explicit pictures to those known only online; sexting) and expecting to engage in offline sex with those known only online which has been exacerbated by the onslaught of Internet sex chat sites (Drouin & Miller, 2016). Research has also demonstrated that Adolescents aged 15-16 years, especially male adolescents, are the most prone to the development of Internet addiction, whereas adolescents aged 11-12 years show the lowest level of Internet addiction (Karacic  & Oreskovic, 2017).

 

Research has shown that: 1. Pornography and related sexual media can influence sexual violence, sexual attitudes, moral values and sexual activity of children; 2. peer-to-peer-file-sharing leads to a tremendous amount of inadvertent and unintentional exposure of children to pornography and other adult sexual media and that these networks depend on these young people constructing their own sexualized media environment; 3. But research has demonstrated that a warm and open parent-child relationship is the most important nontechnical means that parents can use to deal with the challenges of the sexualized media. Further that open parent-child channels for communicating about sexual and media experiences, sex education at home or school, and parental participation with children on the Internet are constructive influences (Greenfield, 2004).

Given these realities it is recommended that parents:
  1. Not give a smartphone to a child unil age 14 or older
  2. Not have computers or other electronic devices in their children's room but rather in public spaces and that Bed rooms are to be used for school studying and sleep.
  3. Check daily the log of site visitation on computers and electronic devices used by children
  4. Talk with the parents of your children's friends and update them on the realities of internet pornography mass production
  5. Recognize that up to 90% of pornography is not commercial but rather from amateur production and distribution-such as through sexting
  6. Get to know the friends and colleagues their children associate with so as to monitor if these friends are engaging in pornography related behaviors
  7. Arrange to monitor the computer and all electronic devices in the home
  8. Be cautious about their children freely going to public libraries or other public facilities which have free access to the computers and the internet
  9. Be cautious with their own smartphones, ipads, iphones, laptops, computers etc so that their children are not utilizing them to get to undesirable websites
  10. Work hard to improve the communications with their children to keep the lines of communications open so that their children can feel free and not be shamed if they bring to their parents' attention their encounters and use of pornography be it online or not.

For More Information on Pornography Intervention go to: 

PORNOGRAPHY INTERVENTION: A TRAINING RESOURCE by Jim Messina at: http://coping.us/pornographyintervention.html