Parenting Podcast: More Power to You for Powering Down

Parenting Podcast by Wendy Grinberg, RJE

This week educational consultant Lori Day and I continue our conversation in the Jewish Parenting Podcast. We’re focusing on technology, the good and the bad. Lori points out that technology has helped connect us to all kinds of information and other parents in similar situations, situations that used to be isolating and lonely. On the other hand, our smart phones are often the thing standing in the way of us being fully present with our children.

Everything in moderation, right? In 2011, we can’t swear off technology, and we can’t and probably shouldn’t try to prevent our kids from being exposed to it. But what about once/week? Back in 2010, a group of artists from Reboot created a Sabbath Manifesto (see the text below) and a National Day of Unplugging, this year on March 23-24 (it’s during Shabbat and starts on Friday night). They even have an app that helps you unplug and notify your friends you’re doing so. If you want a low-tech solution, they’ve created a cell phone sleeping bag.

The Sabbath Manifesto Ten Principles
1. Avoid technology.
2. Connect with loved ones.
3. Nurture your health.
4. Get outside.
5. Avoid commerce.
6. Light candles.
7. Drink wine.
8. Eat bread.
9. Find silence.
10. Give back.

We’re always looking for ways that Judaism is relevant to our lives. I can see how even just committing to not checking my email or smart phone each Shabbat would give me a much needed break, send a meaningful message to my children about the importance of our time together, and help put me back in control with a little discipline (in both the plain and spiritual sense of the word). What do you think? Is Shabbat observance as described above a meaningful antidote to the negative side-effects of technology? Could the ten principles make you a better parent? A happier person? What about unplugging seems most daunting? AsRosh Hashanah approaches, will you resolve to take a first step?

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Wendy Grinberg, RJE is a URJ Parenting Specialist.

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