“It’s not happening in my family” is the naïve statement made by many parents and spouses about one of today’s looming topics: Internet Addiction. Addressing this issue last Sunday, renowned psychologist and addictions expert, Rabbi Dr. Yosef Shagalow, spoke to a diverse audience of principals, teachers, parents and their children from across the spectrum of our Orthodox community.
Earlier in the day, Shagalow had already conducted a compelling Nefesh Chicago Professional Training for Orthodox mental health professionals on the pervasiveness of internet addiction and its unfortunate counterpart gaming, gambling, and sexual addiction. He spoke about the reality of these crises, how to recognize them, and how to address them therapeutically.
Nefesh Chicago is credited with providing this first-time training on Digital Health to our Chicago area Orthodox psychologists and social workers.
Social media is here to stay and part of the real world and both audiences came away with practical safeguards.
Even in a home with no internet service or smartphones, a family member can find his or her way to a device and addiction via the neighbor’s wi-fi. “I know because some have become my clients,” Shagalow says.
“Parents must realize they can’t expect a child to self-regulate. It’s a matter of sitting down with the family, having face to face discussions, and developing a strategic plan together.” Therapists are now teaching parents how to spot internet addiction in their children. Shagalow’s practical advice includes asking parents to be good models for internet habits, such as limiting their own screen time.
Rabbi Dr. Shagalow’s Sunday morning professional training also addressed the therapeutic path to healing couples and families, as internet addiction between married couples produces long-term distrust and insecurity.
Nefesh Chicago invited TAG Chicago’s Josh Ruben and Rabbi Ephraim Goldman to educate both psychologists (in the morning) and community (in the evening) about the best tech solution for their technology issues. TAG [Technology Awareness Group] provides free community service for computers, smartphones, laptops, tablets and many other digital devices. Ruben and Goldman discussed a variety of filters that are available. Their website is www.tagchicago.org
Nefesh Chicago’s goal is to improve awareness around a broad range of mental health issues. It is an Orthodox professional group, providing education, training, support and networking opportunities for Orthodox mental health professionals for the past 23 years. Nefesh Chicago is dedicated to professional development anchored in a halachic Torah framework. Our website is www.nefeshchicago.org