Dr. S Appearances

A nagging sense of guilt and inadequacy haunts many moms distracted by today’s technology, just as their kids are also becoming less connected to families, as studies show. Good parenting today requires careful planning – like meal preparation – setting access limits of electronic-free times and places, and extensive meaningful positive planned interactions with media together.

Veteran Chicago-area child-psychiatrist and Northwestern University faculty member Dr. Eitan Schwarz is launching his national campaign to assist parents manage their kids’ media lives in comprehensive, positive and healthy ways. He is beginning with appearances in suburban Chicago libraries. His scheduled appearances are online at http://mydigitalfamily.org

Dr. Schwarz will discuss his book, “Kids, Parents & Technology: A Guide for Young Families.” Known to his patients as Dr. S, the Skokie physician offers fresh child- and family-oriented thinking.

Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, a Harvard Medical School lecturer praises the book: “Finally someone- Dr. Schwarz – has given parents an easy-to read, but very helpful guide to managing the electronic world that surrounds children and us. Read it!”

“I want to reset parental attitudes and empower parents with the tools to make their digital families successful digital families” remarks Dr. Schwarz, a doctor with both a mission and the solution to managing digital media families.

“After a decade of feeling overwhelmed about digital media consumption by kids, it’s for parents to take charge of media consumption as they do other home appliances. Setting limits have proved to be insufficient solutions. Parents need to rethink the use of digital media for their digital families. That’s why I wrote this book.”

What a great article! Making good decisions about media consumption is an ongoing parenting and personal challenge for moms. Working moms, with limited time and random cell phone and other tech intrusions into their family time, often have special challenges. My work and research has shown me that this is an important family issue that parents are often torn about. Many come up with good compromises, but stay feeling uncertain and have guilt feelings. Except for limit setting, there just is not enough good guidance (except for scare advice) out there, even after over a decade of media dominance in our homes. So I decided to write “Kids, Families & Technology: A Guide for Young Families” as family- and child- centered book based on my many years of practice and research as a child psychiatrist about making media a positive part of parenting and family life (see www.mydigitalfamily.org.) I believe that media is here to stay, and with guided use can become a positive and helpful parts of family life that improve relationships.

Re “Educational Hope vs. Teenage Reality” (Digital Domain, July 11),

which described how studies showed a decline in academic performance after students in low-income households received a computer in the home:

Without active parental planning and supervision, children consume junk media as they do junk food. Left to themselves, children properly regard almost everything as toys and do not consider long-term benefits or hazards.

Parents should regard digital media as a way to enhance children’s development and family life. Learning is essentially a developmental social that needs the nurturing involvement of adults.

EITAN D. SCHWARZ, M.D.

Skokie,Ill., July 11

The writer is a child psychiatrist.

For the first time online, an expert is addressing both parents and their young kids directly about developing good media habits. In free side by side online videos, Dr. Eitan Schwarz, a veteran Chicago area child and family psychiatrist, urges parents to use home media in positive and healthy ways and separately addresses their young kids to cooperate. The videos attempt to change viewers’ mindset to accept Dr. Schwarz’s positive approach to the use of media in the home.

“Home technology can be enormously helpful, but current studies show it to be mostly destructive,” according to Dr. Schwarz, also known as Dr. S to his patients. “For over a decade I watched and helped frustrated parents deal with kids misusing technology. I then decided it is time to give families credible tools based on a solid understanding of the needs of kids and families and wrote KIDS, PARENTS & TECHNOLOGY: A Guide for Young Families. I was then looking for ways to reach more parents more directly and started giving talks, mainly in local libraries, to motivate parents to confidently and systematically manage kids’ media lives as they do nutrition, hygiene, and education, using home Media Plans. We recorded and edited the videos to be lively and meaty. Some are now exhibited on our www.mydigitalfamily.org and are freely accessible to parents everywhere,” according to Dr. S.

“Then — out of the blue — a new idea occurred to us ‘Why not address kids directly?’ I always enjoyed working with kids in play therapy anyway. So I sat in front of the camera with a puppet, and – amazingly — the content just flowed naturally,” added Dr. S, who actually researched the use of technology in homes and in office play therapy.

In addition to parent lectures, the online site now also features spontaneously created video lessons to prepare children 2 through 10 for life with media in cooperation with parents’ Media Plans. Dr. S recommends that parents watch together with kids several times and have conversations guided by his book. One video teaches that there is a time and place for everything and parents know best. Another shows that human contact is better than media consumption.

“Some colleagues feared that the seemingly amateurish format may hurt my image as a serious expert, but I wanted the videos to be as personal, familiar, and informal as home videos. My formal expert credentials speak for themselves anyway. I’d rather connect with kids and parents in a spontaneous, non-commercial and fresh way. We are planning many more such fun thematic videos to orient youngsters towards a lifetime of healthy media use. So stay tuned,” said Dr. S, who has been on the faculty of local medical schools and a leader in his profession.