Open Letter to Parents and Teenagers;|
When excess adolescent computer use becomes a source of family conflict and/or academic and social problems, parents are often left feeling frustrated and helpless. Besides being a computer engineer and programmer, I am also a clinical psychologist and parent educator. In my clinical work with adolescents and their parents and discussions with customers that have field tested the product over the past year, I am convinced that parents do not have adequate tools to help teach and guide their children in today’s high tech world.
This technical divide is similar to a cultural divide seen between generations of American immigrants with different levels of English language skills. The struggle and distrust that is often experienced between parents and children can result in difficult and damaged relationships. This technical divide allows children to easily, and often covertly, disobey their parents. This temptation is often too great for adolescents seeking independence. I am not alone in this view. Microsoft, Blizzard, Sony and Nintendo are all incorporating some form of parental controls into their products. China is requiring time limits on all on-line games in their country. For some this seems like a big joke. For those of us who have dedicated our lives to the well being of adolescents and their parents, it certainly is not.
I have seen physical violence against parents and siblings, school avoidance, marital strife, depression, anxiety, OCD, sleep disorders and academic failure – all as result of the addictive nature of computer and game play AND the parent’s inability to moderate such use. This is truly a parenting problem, but one that is not easy to solve. In addition to setting appropriate limits we suggest parents seek professional help where necessary. The PC Moderator or any product does not replace parenting skills and a solid loving relationship between parent and child.
For some parents, removing the computer from the house or shutting off the on-line game subscription is the only solution. Unfortunately this often results in anger and resentment within the family. Often, parents just give up. Once parents realize their inadequacy, it often becomes too difficult for them both technically and emotionally to set limits. They let the computer be a baby-sitter rather than deal with the conflict. They may even give up on their hopes and dreams of their child getting good grades in school and going on to college.
We don’t want to see this happen! With moderation, teens can enjoy their computers and parents can ensure that their teens have adequate time for sleep, schoolwork and other responsibilities. Moderation is key! That is why we named the product PC Moderator. Our tag line, “Limits, Not Controls” does not contradict our product’s purpose. Our product allows adequate flexibility to give children the choice of how to use their time. It allows parents a great deal of flexibility – from simply giving their child feedback on how much time they spend on the computer, with no limits set, to full restrictive settings. It allows parents to gradually reduce excess computer use and allows parents to give additional time easily when circumstances warrant. No other product has the richness of features and level of security as the PC Moderator. Good parenting involves setting limits, letting children make choices and expanding those limits as the child matures. We believe that the PC Moderator helps parents do that.
Kenneth Woog, Psy.D.,CEO
Woog Laboratories, Inc.