5 Powerful Ways Military Families Can Triumph Over Digital Challenges
Military families encounter great challenges, but they also possess remarkable strengths. I understand this firsthand, having recently retired from a 25-year career as a developmental-behavioral pediatrician in the Air Force. I maintain a reverent respect for those in uniform, both past and present.
The exceptional military families who serve us, including those who will wear the uniform in the future, deserve the best information regarding the devastating digital challenges they (and all families) face. The invaluable resources from Defend Young Minds are exactly the prescription to evade digital pitfalls, which include social media and pornography addictions.
Strengths of military families
Military families are already equipped with a unique set of strengths to help deter them from some of the digital life challenges. These include:
- Resilience: Military families are no strangers to adapting to change. Frequent relocations and deployments foster a remarkable resilience that allows them to value what is important in life, face adversity head-on, overcome challenges, and emerge stronger.
- Strong bonds: Living a life filled with unpredictability forms deep, unbreakable bonds within military families. Connection is a tie that binds military families and their shared experiences create a unique sense of unity and togetherness, ensuring they are always there for one another.
- Devotion to service: The commitment to service runs deep in military families. Their selfless and unwavering dedication to the nation extends not just to the service member, but to the entire family, exemplifying a profound sense of patriotism.
Digital challenges for military families
Despite the strengths of military families, they have ongoing challenges that need to be addressed which result in them being susceptible to some of the pitfalls that can come with excessive or inappropriate use of digital devices. Here are 4 things that military families should watch out for:
- Online safety: In an increasingly digital world, military families need to be vigilant about online safety. The frequent moves of military families may put their children at high risk of cyberbullying or being introduced to inappropriate content as they encounter new community environments and seek to be part of them.
- Privacy concerns: The nature of communicating from distant locations often requires military family members to share personal information online. This can be a significant concern, especially in an age where privacy and security are paramount.
- Digital overuse: The constant use of digital devices for communication and coordination can lead to technology overload. This impacts the well-being and quality of life of military families as they forget to engage in activities that build strong family bonds that don’t require digital connections.
- Deployment or separation stress: During deployment when a parent may be far away and in dangerous situations, military families may rely even more on digital devices as a coping mechanism to alleviate stress and anxiety.
5 ways military families can triumph over digital challenges
Thankfully, military families have access to powerful tools to face life’s digital challenges and mitigate the harmful material one can find online. Education on these resources is paramount to establish a defense against unwanted or unknown influences. Some of these resources include:
- Defend Young Minds (DYM): DYM offers age-appropriate resources and guidance on digital safety and literacy, addressing the unique needs of military families. Their expertise and support are invaluable in navigating the digital landscape pitfalls. I recommend families read their articles, download their guides and check out their books and courses.
- Military family support organizations: Organizations like Military OneSource, Blue Star Families, and Operation Military Kids provide programs, events, and support networks designed to address the specific challenges faced by military families in the digital age.
- Educational programs: Military families can benefit from educational programs on digital well-being, helping them establish a healthy balance between online and offline life. Brain Defense is a self-paced curriculum for kids ages 7 to 11 which parents will find simple to use and powerful in creating safe tech habits.
- Mental health services: Resources like Military OneSource and local base services including Military Family Life Consultants offer confidential counseling services and mental health support, essential for addressing the added stressors brought about by digital challenges.
- Community Support: The sense of camaraderie within the military community is an invaluable resource. Connecting with other military families can provide a strong support system for overcoming digital challenges.
I have witnessed firsthand the unwavering commitment and sacrifice of our military families. Their unique strengths, including resilience, strong bonds, and unwavering patriotic service, deserve our respect and admiration.
As we celebrate Veterans Day each year, let us also take a moment to offer our services and resources for military families as well as profound thanks for their sacrifice for us all.
DYM Resources for Military Families
Up to date digital parenting tips and news about digital threats
Brain Defense: Digital Safety Curriculum - Family Edition
"Parents are desperate for concepts and language like this to help their children. They would benefit so much from this program - and I think it would spur much needed conversations between parents and children.” --Jenet Erikson, parent