April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Parents Must Work to Manage Digital Kids

Tenafly—Parents at the Lubavitch on the Palisades School met for an insightful parenting workshop on the challenges of raising children in the digital age. Dr. Bena Schwartz moderated the discussion and presented ideas from the book The Big Disconnect by Catherine Steiner-Adaire and Teresa Barker. Schwartz, who is the mother of LPS preschool alumni Yaakov, Elie, and Meyer and present LPS preschool-students Boaz and Sheffah, is also a developmental child psychologist with a Ph.D. from Yale University.

“My kids have homework on the computer which is something that they like to do, but I feel like it’s a gateway drug that gives them access to things they should not be seeing or doing. It’s very hard to constantly monitor them,” one of the parents said while discussing the pros and cons of technology advancements.

Schwartz discussed how technology has taken over our lives and is a double-edged sword. On one hand, technology allows families to be more connected, but on the other hand it creates many distractions, both for children and parents.

“As parents, we can be very attached to our gadgets. Our children are mimicking our behavior and becoming similarly obsessed with computer games, social media, and time in front of a screen,” she said.

With this realization of the disconnection and distraction, it’s important to take a step back and seize opportunities to disconnect from technology and reconnect with our friends and family members in a meaningful way, Schwartz said. She added that Shabbat is a wonderful opportunity to take a break from texting, computers, iPads, iPhones, and Facebook to spend quality time. Consciously making a decision to put away devices during dinnertime can completely change the way families interact, communicate, and enjoy each other’s company.

Technology, Schwartz added, can also be used to improve family life by using it as a motivator for children. Instead of allowing children to have access to the Internet, social media, and games as a right, children should understand that it is a privilege. By first requiring children to fulfill their responsibilities, devices can be used as a reward. Conversely, removal of devices can be used as a natural consequence for tasks that are not completed due to the technological distractions, she added.

Another aspect of “digital age problems” for parents is that movies, television, and games can present values antithetical to messages that parents like to inculcate in their families. By sharing these experiences rather than using televisions or videos as babysitters, parents should use issues that come up as talking points for discussing their own family values, Schwartz said. Children can have the opportunity to bond with their parents and learn about family expectations.

Dr. Schwartz concluded that technology is here to stay, and instead of letting it take control of our lives we need to harness its power to change our lives and our children’s lives for the better.

For more information about future parent workshops at LPS, please contact Sonya Solomon, Assistant Director of LPS, at [email protected].

Jennifer Davis is Associate Principal of General Studies at Lubavitch on the Palisades Elementary School.

By Jennifer Davis

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