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Dr. Bonnie's Guide For "Tuned-In" Children in an Unplugged World


Concerns that kids are getting more and more badly behaved as the generations progress has prompted Dr. Bonnie to weigh in on a recent New York Times article addressing such a problem (

(PRWEB) October 25, 2012

The generation now in their teens and pre-teens have some worrying that they may be the most disrespectful generation yet (New York Times, The article specifically makes reference to behaviors noted at bar and bat mitvahs and questions the link between poor social behavior and increased technology. Family therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil says as kids engage in the online world, they become less comfortable and well-mannered in the "real world." She understands that using technology - even at a young age - has a number of benefits, but believes it has also contributed to some of the behavior problems seen in the younger generation.

Attention spans are waning, which can be seen in a 46 percent increase in prescription drugs treating ADHD ( Additionally, kids nowadays have more choices - both off- and online. "Teens more likely to be used to being asked for their opinion, their input in decisions made by their parents, families, and schools. It's an empowering move toward helping kids have confidence and ownership in their lives," says Dr. Bonnie. But it also has a downside. It becomes more difficult to set boundaries and limits when kids are so often left to their own devices, that it can become confusing for everyone.

With so much technology at their fingertips, teens don't have to learn to prioritize their wants against the preferences of other members of their community. Additionally, there's the question brought up in the New York Times about whether parents may be working too much and placing less of an emphasis on going out together as a family so kids can learn how to behave. "Instead, kids pretty much have all-hours access to all the entertainment, socializing, and gaming they want," Dr. Bonnie points out. This obsession with technology can easily become a relationship wrecker as it takes up more space everyone's lives and replaces face-to-face interaction.

And although it's unclear what kind of long-term impact these behaviors will on the children who are growing up with them, it seems that in the near-term the answer is clear. "Teens often don't know how to handle themselves in a "real world" social setting," says Dr. Bonnie. "They don't understand basic courtesies like listening when others are talking, and allowing someone else to get their way instead of pursuing what they want." Of course, these are only a few examples, and not all kids suffer from these challenges, but Dr. Bonnie has seen this issues becoming more prevalent in her practice. Leaders may be unsure of whose responsibility it is to take care of such issues - is it the parents? The rabbis or clergy? Teachers? Relatives?

Dr. Bonnie urges parents in particular to take action to avoid disrespect and narcissism taking over, and in response to the over-use of technology that can plague a family, she has a few suggestions:

  • Eat together - no phones allowed! It can be difficult enough to find time amongst busy schedules to carve out a meal, the last thing people need is the distraction of their phones!
Use meal time to practice her Smart Heart Skills and Dialogue which she discusses further in Make Up Don't Break Up: "Create a space for safe communication where each person can be honest about what they're going through in their own life, and how they feel about the family or relationship." But don't get frustrated if it takes a while to draw people out, she advises. "Continue to make the time available and as your kids or significant other feels more comfortable they will be able to rely on that time as a space to share their feelings." Get outside! These types of opportunities often bring out our inner child so go with it, get playful and see where it leads. People may learn something new about their family or partner, discover something new they can do together, and if nothing else, have a good time goofing around together.


To see Dr. Bonnie talk about getting out of the doldrums, click here:

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