Friday, May 29, 2020

(Courtesy of JFCSNNJ) Technology in 2020 is miraculously innovative and entertaining and it keeps us connected to those we care about. Reliance on technology, however, poses significant challenges to parents trying to raise their kids and teens in the 2020s. Navigating the hourly or daily struggles with children can be exhausting and frustrating.

On January 8, professionals from the Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Northern New Jersey spoke to parents at Yeshivat He’Atid about how to effectively parent in the age of technology. Parents of elementary and middle school children convened to learn from CEO Susan Greenbaum (LCSW) and Allison Limmer (LCSW), the director of clinical services.

The speakers emphasized that parenting in 2020 is not that different from parenting throughout the ages. It has always been essential to communicate clearly, establish structure and limits, keep parental promises, and set good examples for children to emulate.

What is different in 2020 is the struggle to limit screen time, protect children’s internet access and to be up to speed on the ever-changing trends and apps. Today’s parents have few personal resources who are knowledgeable about these topics.

Greenbaum further described the current parenting challenge.

“Creating a balanced and healthy approach to technology is analogous to providing a healthy balanced diet,” she said. “We need to eat. We can’t eliminate food, so we need to learn how to manage it to develop healthy and consistent eating habits. Similarly, technology isn’t going away. It is only becoming more intense, and each of us needs to think about how we manage it ourselves and what boundaries we feel are appropriate to both model for our children and set as expectations for them.”

At the end of the presentation, Greenbaum and Limmer broke the parents into smaller groups to discuss optimal ways to handle common technology disputes.

One scenario read as follows: “My 6-year-old daughter comes home from school and immediately screams and cries until she gets to use the iPad. I am so busy with my two younger children and preparing dinner that I end up letting her watch videos to keep the peace. Now my daughter expects hours of iPad time every day. I feel guilty, but setting her up on the iPad is the only way that I can get anything done. How do I change these behaviors?”

Parents and group leaders then provided multiple suggestions on how to change these embedded family dynamics.

If your school or organization would like JFCS to host a similar event, please call (201) 837-9090 and ask to speak with Limmer. To learn more about JFCS, please visit www.jfcsnnj.org.