The psychiatrist helping you step away from the screen… gently
Chatting with Dr. Jodi Gold feels like sitting down with an old friend. Within minutes of welcoming us into her office, she had whipped up cappuccinos and told us to make ourselves at home in her bright, comfortable office, packed with equal parts books and children’s toys. Her warmth, candor, and sense of humor make it easy to see why she is able to connect with her patients.
An adult and pediatric psychiatrist, Dr. Gold has a special interest in the impact of technology on families (she’s literally written the book on the subject!). A busy mom and frequent speaker, she shows no signs of slowing down, instead expanding her practice to help New Yorkers focus on mindfulness.
Helping Patients Be Their Best Selves
“I see children, pre-teens and young adults, and the key is being flexible. Sometimes I’ll see the child with a parent, sometimes without, and sometimes the parents separately. Teenagers I usually see by themselves as we work on issues like their independence. But the best part is getting to see these different realities.
I love my job. You get to be involved in people’s lives and to change the outcomes. It’s also a great window to see how they live their lives. I look at the whole package: the social, academic, health and wellness aspects and figure out where patients need the most help. It’s my job to help them be their best self.
Technology comes up in every single one of my sessions. A teenager goes through a breakup that happens over text message. A parent is concerned about their child playing too much Minecraft. I have young kids too and technology comes up everyday as a parent. Do you get your kids a cell phone? Should an iPad be a tool that helps teach them to read?
My generation didn’t grow up with technology in this way, and I went looking for answers on how to handle these situations. I went to the library (the real one, with books!), did research online, and was surprised to find virtually no peer-reviewed research on how to raise your kids in the digital age.
My theory is that kids today grow up both online and offline. As parents we’ve got the offline part down but we’re total digital immigrants.
I wrote a book called Screen Smart Parenting which came out in 2014. Even since then, so much has changed. I speak at schools often and year after year the content changes because so much is changing everyday. Not only with the technology itself, but how much we and our children interact with it.
What I think is fascinating is that it’s really not about restricting use of technology as much as it is learning how to manage it. A big mistake parents make is just taking away the phone. It’s better and more productive to instead make it a lesson in balance.
One of the best things I think you can do for your kids is have them have some sort of camp experience. Whether it’s just for the day or overnight, it doesn’t have to be fancy, can be whatever’s local and convenient, but it’s a place where kids can have an amazing experience that doesn’t rely on technology. I’m starting to send my kids to camp, and I hope they love it, but at the very least I know it will be great for them to have that time to disconnect.
On New York City
I love working in New York City; I think it’d be boring to practice anywhere else. I see the most interesting people! I work with the smartest, most creative, most intense people possible. In particular, it’s such a unique place for kids to group up and to raise children. A different, complicated experience, but one that is so rich and exciting.
I love being able to walk everywhere in the city. I walk my kids to school, I walk to work, if I go shopping I walk around a lot. I feel really connected to my neighborhood. I’m friends with the barista, the doorman, even walking my dog I meet people. Walking in New York is great exercise, but it’s also a social experience, which is so unique to this city.
I have a lot on my plate. I have three young kids and a busy practice. I’m doing my best like everyone else to balance it all. I walk a lot. I would love to exercise more. I spend a lot of time with my kids. I don’t have a lot of time that’s just for myself right now, so when I do get that time, I try to really focus on mindfulness.
I’m so excited to have launched the Gold Center for Mind, Health and Wellness. We have a whole team of people and offer tech evaluations, where we screen for improper use of the Internet, or just provide consultations. In terms of more medical services, we do both family and couples work, educational testing, family testing, all in one place with one team. No one sits down and curates this in a thoughtful way right now, and we want to be a one stop shop and a team to serve families, but do it thoughtfully so it’s not too much in one place.
I definitely think of myself as providing compassionate patient care. I spend a lot of time with people.
I tell people that I often run late, but I will run late for you too whenever you need me. If you need a few extra minutes to talk or cry it out, I’ll be here with you.
I bet most people don’t know that… kids spend more time using devices than sleep, eating, and school combined!
If I weren’t a doctor… I’d love to run a startup that gives back in some way. I love to create but also to contribute back to others.
On my ideal day off… I’d spend time with my family but do something active, like skiing, tennis, or golf.
My guilty pleasure… I wish I had one, but I don’t think I even have time right now! But having time to watch trashy TV sounds like it could be fun. I eat Cheetos… but I don’t think that’s really a guilty pleasure.
My personal style… elegant and easy. I try to take 3 to 4 minutes in the morning. My go-to outfit is a dress and fun shoes. A little mascara and blush — that’s it!