Parenting in the Age of Technology

By: Associate Director Karen Kollins and Camper Care Team Member Kerryn Rose

Being a member of the Ontario Council of Jewish Camps (OCJC) is something that we feel very fortunate about. The opportunity to work with our colleagues at other camps in our region is both meaningful and useful. One of the main objectives of the OCJC is to spread the word about Jewish camping and open the doors of Jewish camp to as many kids as possible. As such, the Council decided that this year we wanted to run our own event, one that would demonstrate to  both new and veteran camp families,  that as a unified group, Jewish camps see themselves as more than just a summer experience. Rather, we are an integral part of the larger GTA Jewish community and provide important services to our camp families.

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Associate Director Karen Kollins

We knew that there was no one better to help us with this community event than our friend Joe Rich. Joe has been instrumental to Camp George since our founding in 1999. For over a decade, Joe visited us each summer and offered engaging and thoughtful workshops to our staff and supervisors. I often hear from alumni staff that their experience working with Joe was one of their most memorable staff training experiences.  As a social worker, camp consultant, author, and TV personality, Joe brings knowledge and insight to every topic he speaks about in an entertaining and engaging way.

Our event on October 16th – “Parenting in the Age of Technology” was no different. To a crowd of over 80 parents, Joe shed light on the important issues of how technology plays a role in our children’s lives and how as parents we cannot shy away from understanding the tricks and tools of the trade. Our job, says Joey, is to closely monitor our children’s use of technology, not because we need to ‘helicopter’ over them but rather because when it comes to technology, our children have the potential to let anyone into their lives – and this can be very dangerous.

As a parent of a toddler and a school ager, my own children are too young to understand the power of the internet and how to use a cell phone (although they are getting very close). However, Daniel (my husband) and I have already witnessed how technology impacts our entire family’s lives – from commercials on TV, to the latest iPhone app, and Ruby’s  (our daughter) desire at 6 years old to have her own iPod shuffle! Although we are not afraid of the technology and at this point understand it better than our kids, we are constantly reminding ourselves that we need to be role models to our children. If we follow Joe’s advice, technology will be ‘open’ in our home – privacy is not something our children should have when it comes to what they are doing, what they are saying, and who they are communicating with through technology. Joe’s remarks were a great reminder that we need to start thinking about technology’s impact on our kids NOW – even if in three years we will be dealing with a host of new issues and new media!!

We were thrilled to be part of this amazing event and look forward to our continued work with the OCJC.

Below, you’ll hear from Camper Care Team Member and Camp George Parent, Kerryn Rose.

Kerryn says:

When I found out I would be attending a presentation with Joe Rich on Parenting in the age of Technology, the first thought that came to mind was that it wouldn’t apply to me yet as my oldest is only 7.  I was mistaken!

Joe’s lecture hit so many cords for me.  It not only gave me insight into just how much technology has already influenced my older daughter, but it opened my eyes to how I need to view my own behavior and approaches to and with technology.

Kerryn Rose; A member of our Camper Care Team

Camper Care Team Member Kerryn Rose

Here were some of the “aha moments” I had:

1) It is important for parents to keep up with the latest social media trends. I have always felt like I don’t need to keep up with the latest and greatest.  What I learned is that we are actually doing ourselves a disservice by not knowing because these are the interests of our children. By being in the know and engaging in conversations relating to technology, we are opening up lines of communication with them.

2) We need to understand how our children are processing the many facets of social media, especially the dangers that come along with it. Meaning, instead of trying to tell them how to navigate the information they are receiving, we need to ask them what they are thinking when presented with information. By understanding their thought process, we can better help them become equipped to handle the fast moving, often overwhelming overload of access to information.

3) The age of privacy and discretion is over. For me, it is scary to think that nothing will be sacred anymore for my daughter.  Everything she does and says will be potentially posted, scrutinized, and ridiculed. Her carefree days are numbered because by the age of 10 or even younger, she might have access to social media.

4) And lastly, that the need for self-regulation when it comes being online is just as hard for adults as it is for children.  We need to learn and model how to disconnect and have tech free times so that our children learn from a very young age how to do the same.

There were so many other points and moments that really spoke to me during Joe’s presentation. These were just a few. My views and understanding have completely changed and I am so thankful that I got to attend this presentation.

 

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