Jodi Gold, MD
Dr. Jodi Gold is a board certified adult and pediatric psychiatrist, with clinical expertise in child & adolescent pharmacology, reproductive psychiatry, parenting & divorce, psychotherapy of anxiety, mood disorders, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and the management of digital technology.
Dr. Gold received her B.A from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her medical training at the University of Tennessee and her residency in psychiatry at Weill Cornell College of Medicine, followed by a fellowship in pediatric psychiatry at Cornell. She also completed a clinical fellowship in infant psychiatry that focused on reproductive psychiatry and early parenting and attachment. During her training, she received awards from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Association of Women Psychiatrists (AWP).
She led the child and adolescent psychiatry outpatient department at Weill Cornell College of Medicine from 2006 to 2012. She has mentored and taught hundreds of medical students, psychologists, residents and fellows at Cornell and Columbia. She has spoken nationally and internationally to physicians, educators and parents about her developmental approach to managing digital technology in children and adolescents, which led to her best-selling book Screen-Smart Parenting: How to Find Balance and Benefit in Your Child’s Use of Social Media, Apps, and Digital Devices. Screen Smart Parenting has received international acclaim. It was awarded the runner-up book of the year by the National Academy of Nursing and often makes the lists for the “must have” parenting books.
Dr. Gold regularly consults as a psychiatric expert on a range of mental health and lifestyle topics on local and national news programs such as CNN, Good Morning America and Sirius XM.
Her website is www.thegoldcenters.com
Interventions for a range of Anxiety Disorders (Selective Mutism, OCD etc.)
Evidence-based treatments for Trauma and Stress Related Disorders
Management Consultant at PriceWaterhouse Coopers in the Healthcare Sector
Manager of Web Service for Healthpages Technology Company
Intake Coordinator at Washington Square Institute
Staff Therapist at Washington Square Institute
As Seen On
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Screen-Smart Parenting: How to Find Balance and Benefit
Foreword by Tory Burch
in Your Child's Use of Social Media, Apps, and Digital Devices
Introduction: Throw Away the Rule Book
I. The Brave New World
1. Understanding Your Family’s Digital Habitat: Cultivating Online Resilience and Digital Citizenship
2. Digital Milestones: The Facts Behind How Technology Affects Your Child’s Development
3. The Digital Landscape: What You Need to Know about the Tech Terrain
4. From the iPotty to Facebook Fame: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Digital Debates
II. Growing Up Digital
5. Downloading in Diapers: Managing Your Child's Digital World before Preschool - Ages 0-2
6. Digitods and Technotots: Everything You Need to Know about the Digital World You Learned in Kindergarten - Ages 3-5
7. Digital Magic Years: The Calm before the Digital Storm of Middle School - Ages 6-8
8. Welcome to the Frequent Flyer Club: Equipped with a Digital Boarding Pass and Ready to Take Off - Ages 8-10
9. Tweens and the Texting Revolution: Digital Media Use at Its Peak - Ages 11-14
10. Just Digital: Rewriting the Rules on Independence, Dating, Friends, and School - Ages 15-18
III. One Size Does Not Fit All
11. The Digitally Challenging Child: Modifying the Rules for Kids with ADHD, Anxiety, and Depression
12. Don't Take Away the Phone! The Nuts and Bolts of Your Family Digital Technology Agreement
Introduction from Dr. Gold
For thousands of years, we have relied on our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles for parenting advice. While we often get advice that we don’t want and didn’t ask for, we instinctively turn to what our parents might have done. Recently, I have found myself asking the following questions:
“When did my parents reward my good behavior with apps?” “How did I finish my homework while texting, chatting, tweeting, and posting?” “How old was I when my parents gave me my first smartphone?” “How did my parents choose which Disney series to download, and which role-playing video game (RPG) was acceptable to play?” “How did my parents keep my sister and me safe and protected from cyberbullying and sexting?” “How did my parents help us manage our digital footprint and instill in us the tenets of good digital citizenship?” “How did my parents help me balance the need to be digitally connected with the need for real play and real human interaction?”
Wait! I grew up in the 1970s and ’80s, and my parents were awesome, but they didn’t face any of these dilemmas. I was born before the digital revolution. I am what is now called a “digital immigrant.” Technology is not my first language. I have learned it and embraced it, and it now runs much of my life, but I’m not completely fluent. I speak “technology” or “Digitalese” with an accent. If I am keeping track properly, my 9-year-old and 7-year-old sons are the youngest members of the iGeneration, the millennials, or the “app generation”—born since the inception of the Internet. My 5-year-old daughter, born in 2008, is a “Digitod.” The Internet is ancient history for her generation. She was born after the iPhone and following the touch-screen revolution.
Technology has changed since you were a kid. In fairness, technology is always changing, and every generation of mothers and fathers faces a different landscape from their parents. My father never tired of telling me that his family was one of the first in Winnipeg to own a television. He and his brother sat for hours watching the “Indian-head” test pattern before there was any real programming. From the 1950s to the ’80s technology advanced at the speed of sound, but today we are experiencing progress at the speed of light.
There is an ongoing intellectual debate about whether we drive technology (instrumentalism) or whether it drives us (determinism). Sigmund Freud promoted the concept that our early childhood experiences shape who we are as adults. That is not to say that we can’t reshape who we are, but there is no escaping your childhood completely. This is also true when you are parenting. The problem here is that no one has any direct experience with growing up with interactive digital technology. I suspect that our kids will have it a bit easier when they grow up. They will, at least, have experienced childhood in the digital era, from which they can draw parenting tools. Today, no one has any real personal experience helping parents figure out whether toddlers should use the “iPotty” or learn to read on a tablet. No one can say definitively when children should get their first smartphone or sign up for Instagram. How do you help your preteen daughter balance her changing body with the pressures of managing her online identity? How do you help your teenage son manage the demands of high school with the constant intrusions of games, messages, and Instagram?
You and your usual sources are equally lacking in experience on how to parent with digital technology. Unfortunately, the “experts” don’t offer much help here either. There is burgeoning research in this area, but limited longitudinal studies. Even studies that have followed kids since the ’90s are somewhat outdated at this point. A lot of the early research was fearful and pessimistic. It mostly focused on passive television watching, and there hasn’t been much time to focus on interactive digital technology.
My friends and my family repeatedly asked me why I embarked on this project when I have a full-time job and three kids. I decided to embark on this project because as a parent and as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I wanted to develop a more thoughtful approach to parenting with digital technology. There is so much fear about the digital age. When I tell friends and colleagues about the book, the first response is usually a fearful one: “Are you going to tell parents how to keep their kids safe?” or “Is there any chance that our kids will grow up to have meaningful relationships?” You can run, but you can’t hide from the digital age. It is here to stay, so I wanted to develop a more fearless approach where we embrace it and control it so we are not controlled by it.
I’ve seen mind-boggling benefits accrue to kids who are digital natives, as well as disadvantages, both in my office and at home—some of them completely unexpected. I wanted to combine the collected knowledge of pediatrics, psychiatry, and parenting to answer the questions we digital immigrants ask and to start a constructive dialogue about how we can get the full benefit of this “new” technology for our kids while minimizing any downsides.
I routinely get calls from parents asking if their child is ready for an iPhone and whether it is safe for the child to join Instagram and play Call of Duty. As I sit at Le Pain Quotidien (a New York Belgian-bakery franchise) finishing up the book, all I have to do is listen to people at the neighboring tables to hear the questions. On my right, a young couple Googles “recommended screen times” for toddlers, while their 18-month-old baby sits in the high chair pinching and swiping his parents’ other iPhone. On my left, two teenage girls sit facing each other, feverishly texting and laughing while looking at their phones. They are interacting with each other in a way that even the Jetsons and the sci-fi movies couldn’t have dreamed up when I was growing up in the 1980s. Unfortunately, there is no parenting playbook for each new update and innovation. We are suspicious of SnapChat and fearful of the epidemic of sexting and unprepared for what comes next. Parents, educators, and physicians are in a constant state of “catch-up.” We want rules but there are no rules. The goal of this book is to help you develop a thoughtful, systematic approach to digital technology with rules, guidelines, and open communication in place as early as possible.
As with any other parenting issue, our approach needs to be developmentally appropriate. What is appropriate for a 12-year-old may not be for a 9-year-old. When is it OK for your son to start playing World of Warcraft? At what age can your daughter be trusted with the responsibility and privilege of her own smartphone? Throughout this book, I encourage you to rely on your own instincts and your intimate knowledge of your children. You know your family best, and you know the values and customs underlying your family’s culture. Trust them to guide you.
Of course you’ll also want to know what the research has to say. I offer the scientific evidence that we do have, and when there isn’t research, I try to make recommendations based on my teaching and clinical experience. The hope is that your children will develop online resilience and a healthy evolving digital footprint that promotes self-expression, not self-destruction.
A lot of earlier research warned of an anticipated digital divide between rich and poor—the idea that poor kids have less access to digital technology and this will hold them back and keep them in poverty. The “digital divide” research has already changed in the last 5 years, with more computers in classrooms and the smartphone revolution. A recent Northwestern University study found that lower-income families had more devices than families with incomes over $100,000 per year. The current concern is not about access but about usage. If lower-income kids are accessing the Internet with smartphones and not computers, will they be able to create online or only consume? In the early 2000s, researchers were concerned that social networking would replace “real” friendships with online strangers. With the pervasiveness of social media and the Internet, the issue now is how you can best connect with your “real-life” friends in a virtual world.
Our parents can’t help us here, and the research keeps on changing. So what do we do now?
Since your parents and the researchers are of little help, we need to go back to the drawing board and develop an upgraded parenting model. We break down this journey into three steps:
Even for today’s most tech-savvy parents, managing kids’ technology use is a huge challenge fraught with uncertainties. In what capacity can screen time boost learning and development, and what impact do parents’ technology habits have? At what age should certain technologies be integrated into a child’s life? How can kids and teens be protected and also learn to be good digital citizens? In her busy psychiatry practice–and while raising her own kids–Dr. Gold witnesses the oft-surprising benefits and the troubling downsides of technology. In her signature positive, accessible approach, she gives parents a wealth of practical strategies for navigating the digital frontier and creating realistic, doable rules and expectations for the whole family.
Foreword by Tory Burch.
Dr. Gold has lectured internationally for audiences of physicians, educators, and parents in diverse settings. From conversations around general psychiatry and mental health, to parenting, to developmental milestones for children using digital technology, she is happy to work with clients in identifying the strongest content for your group.
Dr. Gold has lectured internationally for audiences of physicians, educators, parents and teenagers in diverse settings. From conversations around general psychiatry and mental health, to parenting, to the management of digital technology, she is happy to work with clients in identifying the strongest content for each group.
Technology & the Digital Landscape
Dr. Gold is a nationally recognized expert in parenting in the digital age. Dr. Gold has a unique understanding of the mind-boggling benefits and serious downsides of technology. Dr. Gold weaves together scientific knowledge and every day practical advice to help parents and educators foster a healthy relationship with technology from birth to adulthood. Each talk is tailored to the audience and provides both scientific evidence and practical advice. Topics often included:
- How much screen time is too much?
- What are the effects of technology on the growing brain?
- How does technology affect development
- At what age should your child receive a phone or have a social media account?
- What are the trends in social media and video games?
- How do you manage privacy, bullying & sexting?
- How do you set limits for your entire family?
Recent Screen Smart Talks:
Understanding Your Family’s Digital Habitat
Dr. Gold focuses on how parent’s attitudes and behavior impact their child’s digital life and what parents and educators need to know about social media and the digital landscape.
Digital Milestones: The Facts Behind How Technology Affect’s Your Child’s Development
Dr. Gold provides an overview of the evidence- based research around children and technology. She reviews developmental milestones and matches them to the digital world. Recent topics have included managing Clash Royale, Minecraft and using Musical.ly in a kind and inclusive way.
From the iPotty to Instagram Fame: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Digital Debates
Dr. Gold explores the current debates and controversies related to social media and digital technology. Topics include: “spying” on your teens and the pros & cons of Snapchat.
Digitods & Technotots: Everything You Need to Know About the Digital World You Learned in Kindergarten
Devices are being introduced to children at younger and younger ages. Dr. Gold reviews the research young children and technology. She offers practical advice on when to use screen time for babysitting and how technology can positively impact young children.Topics range from identifying the best video games for your family to learning how to restrict and mange devices on playdates. The audience leaves armed with the tools and optimism needed to parent their young children through the digital age.
Just Digital: Rewriting the Rules on Independence, Dating, Friends & School
Just Digital is designed for teenagers and their parents. We discuss body image and sexuality online. We talk about dating etiquette and managing friends and followers on social media.
The Digitally Challenging Child: Modifying the Rules for Kids with ADHD, Anxiety & Depression
Vulnerable children and teens are the group most likely to feel the most negative impact of technology. It is also a group that can be taught to use technology to become more socially connected and more self-confidants. We overview the unique challenges that children and teens with ADHD, anxiety and depression face in managing social media and their devices.
Don’t Take Away the Phone: The Nuts & Bolts of Your Family’s Digital Agreement
It is critical for parents to focus on how their children use their devices and less on how much time it consumes.The goal of a family technology agreement is to cultivate online resilience and citizenship in your child’s digital identity.Dr. Gold offers tools and strategies to cultivate a healthy digital identity.
The Digital Birds & Bees
The “sex talk” is no longer an awkward one-time conversation that occurs in middle school.The discussion about sexuality begins when your child watches her first YouTube video or makes her first “sexy” musical.ly.The discussion around beauty, body image and “sexy” begins at a very young age.Dr. Gold gives parents tools to discuss sexuality in an ongoing way and challenges parents to use online images as teachable moments.
Middle School Primer to Online Sexuality & Porn
This talk addresses concerns that parents have regarding tweens/teens watching porn online. We cover general concerns about sexuality online and how to counter negative online images.
The Real College Prep: Preparing your teenager for the social and emotional challenges of growing up
Dr. Gold overviews how to prepare your child for adulthood. We review how to cultivate both independence and resilience. We will discuss how to engage your teenager in managing her/his own homework and taking more responsibility for her/his life.
Thirteen Reasons why you should talk to your teenager about suicide
This talk overviews the signs and symptoms of teenage depression. Parents are given tools to look for warning signs for depression, suicide and self-harm.
Nuts & Bolts of Medicating Your Child
This talk overview the role of medication in treating mental health concerns in children and teenagers such as ADHD, anxiety and depression. Dr. Gold overviews the pros & cons and discusses side effects. Parents and educators walk away with general understanding of reasons why children might need medication.
ADHD: Raising the Distracted Child
Dr. Gold reviews the research on the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. She addresses the widespread concerns that ADHD has become over diagnosed. She walks people through the symptoms and treatment. She provides advice on how to handle every day struggles such as homework, digital devices, bedtime and friendships. Parents will leave with the understanding and skills needed to support and manage their children and teens with ADHD.
Dr. Gold tackles a range of parenting topics that new parents face. She talks about the struggles of transitioning to parenthood and raising young children. She provides compassion, support and hands-on strategies to tackle the challenges of parenting young children.
- Talking to your kids about crisis & traumatic events
- Talking to your kids about terrorism
- New research and trends in mental health & lifestyle
- Sexuality in media & news
- Sexual harassment and sexual assault
- Trends in technology and the impact on families
- Parenting, divorce & attachment
- Anxiety, stress and growing up pressures
- Major depression, suicide and bipolar disorder
- Building resilience & grit in children
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