Digital age gone awry?
Half of Israeli parents don't talk with their kids

Poll finds 48% of parents have no face-to-face talks, as smart phones replace contact and kids don't know basic details about their parents.

Ido Ben-Porat ,

Estranged parent and child (illustration)
Estranged parent and child (illustration)

The annual survey of the Adler Institute in Herzliya has revealed that 48% of Israeli parents admit to barely speaking directly with their children on a daily basis, with 40% of the youths confirming the results.

The lack of direct contact appears to be due to the long work days of parents combined with the convenience of technology, thereby creating a situation in which nearly a majority of parents and children communicate primarily through their cell phones.

An overwhelming majority of youths were found by the survey to prefer writing to their parents rather than speaking with them. The popular WhatsApp smart phone messaging application came out as the preferred method of communication for youths in communicating with their parents, as 32% listed the app as their main method of connecting.

Coming in second in terms of preferred means of communication were SMS text messages at 22%, with 16% of children preferring phone calls, and 5% preferring writing by email.

Only around a quarter of the youths said that face-to-face conversations are their preferred way of communicating with their parents.

A representative sample of 300 youths aged between 13 and 18 took part in the poll, as did a representative sample of parents to children aged between 13 and 18.

Another finding was that a quarter of the youths do not know elementary details about their own parents. No less than 25% of the youths admitted that they know very little about the daily routine of their parents, their careers, their relationship and their past.

On the flip side of the finding, a quarter of the parents confirmed that their children don't really know them or their daily routines.

Adler Institute director Osnat Harel said that the poll's results should serve as a warning call for parents, but also for policy makers and lawmakers in Israel.

"What is found is an inverse relation between the rise in the need from parents to accompany, mediate for, listen to, bring into conversation and be present for their children, (as compared to) the ability and availability of the parents to do that," she said.

Harel noted that "the economic situation places difficult demands, unrest, an inability to find resources for family free time, and pressures that create anger and anxiety within the home structure. Meanwhile technological developments bring the entire world to your finger tips, but at the same time create dangers and pitfalls for the security of the children without adult inspection and supervision."

"This reality creates a vicious cycle of a loss of control, a loss of authority and respect, estrangement and solitude, and distress that is expressed in violence," she added.

"The parents must take back the responsibility and find the time and resources to be present and involved in the lives of their children. The state must allow parents to learn their role in order to parent correctly in the present reality."