JPEN – the Jewish Parental Empowerment Network, is a grass-roots initiative launched by parents from North West London. They are committed to identifying the main issues associated with technology usage by children and teens, and making parents aware of how to deal with them. Their goal is to empower parents with the ability to identify the issues, and set effective rules for their children concerning appropriate usage of technology.
There are many potential dangers which need to be addressed including addiction, time-wasting impacting school performance, cyberbullying and exposure to inappropriate content
Most parents are unable to form effective technology usage policies aligned with their values and cave-in to the immense social pressure on their children. They need to be able to communicate their values to their children without the confusing ‘double standards problem’ – whereby children see their parents doing the very things from which they are restricted. Parents need to educate themselves in the appropriate practices, before educating their children.
Children crave a framework and making rules, communicating them, and enforcing them is a science. We cannot rely on either our own parenting experiences as a child or our gut feeling. It’s a new world that needs new tools.
It is true that there are reasons why a parent needs a smartphone in certain circumstances – for business or the like. It does not excuse a parent taking out their phone at meal times, or ignoring their family, because someone else is at the other end of a WhatsApp message. It is important that parents are empowered to talk to their children about these issues and that they are the ones to issue the guidelines or contract, rather than hiding behind other ‘authority figures’.
The objective of JPEN is to empower parents to identify and implement the right policies reflecting their values. It will provide parents with techniques regarding technology, serve as a parental mutual support network and when necessary, refer parents to external community resources.
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