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Parenting: The Challenges of Digital Technology

Empowering Parents to the Challenges of Digital Technology

Dr. Ronald Wachtel, Founding Director

 Technology and the 21st Century Orthodox Community

In the Fall 2015 issue of Klal Perspectives entitled Technology and the 21st Century Orthodox Community, Dr. David Pelcovitz provides recommendations to empower parents to set limits without feeling intimidated. He states that “the most effective parenting style in helping children deal with digital technology is an authoritative style….of parents setting firm limits.” He acknowledges that in today’s Orthodox Jewish community, parents “feel less capable of establishing limits.” Some parents secretly welcome their teens’ constant involvement in cyber media as a form of babysitting that lessens their demands for parental attention. I think we can all agree that any parent who seeks to save time in this fashion will eventually confront more serious challenges in dealing with their child’s overexposure.

 Parental Restrictions

Today’s parents are often unwilling to adopt an authoritative position because they don’t want to deal with their children’s tantrums or to be compared unfavorably to their children’s friends  more reasonable parents. Kav L’Noar’s family therapists support this position with anecdotal data of former teenage clients.  The teens shared their recognition that parental restrictions were really expressions of parental love and protection from involvement with dangerous situations for which they were not prepared.

In a study conducted in Jewish Day Schools in Los Angeles, teenagers were asked how they will deal with their own children’s cyber involvement. Over half responded that they will be stricter than their parents were with them. Clearly, their responses indicated an awareness of their own use of the internet and the damage caused by a lack of parental involvement.

 Contact Kav L’Noar for support.

While authoritative parenting has its place, it does not preclude discussion between parents and children about the responsible use of digital devices. If familial bonds are strong, a collaborative effort should be made to create a formal understanding between parents and teenage children that include terms binding on ALL family members such as technology free meals and designated times on family vacations. If you are struggling to find an effective approach with your teen, please contact Kav L’Noar for support.

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