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Friday
Jul272012

WAKE UP NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE  

We’ve examined the Internet from various perspectives including educational and psychological and learned about the dangers it poses as well as the tools to handle it. In this final article of the series, we present some of our readers’ reactions from which we can learn more about the problem and what to do about it.

A Great-Grandmother:

WHEN THE DOOR IS OPEN, ANYTHING CAN COME IN

What does a woman of my age have to do with the Internet? I thought the same thing. In my house there is one computer connected to the Internet that is in the kitchen where there are people all the time, so I didn’t think there was any concern about it being used for the wrong reasons. When my grandson tried convincing me to put a filter on it, I said it wasn’t necessary. We married off all our children and nearly all our grandchildren and we have Chassidishe nachas from all of them, from the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I don’t suspect any of them of looking at anything forbidden, G-d forbid.

However, recently something happened that showed that I am wrong. Members of my husband’s class in yeshiva gathered to farbreng and reminisce, and they wanted him to join them by using Skype. He did so and the farbrengen was a big success. Friends on both sides of the ocean enjoyed one another’s company. Technology today is just incredible.

The morning after the farbrengen, I went over to the computer and heard the program that had been installed the day before ringing. When I responded, it turned out to be an ad, but the shock from what I saw on the screen made me slam the computer and throw it across the room. I shudder to think what would happen if one of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren would be exposed to sights like that. That is when I understood what is meant when people speak about the dangers of the Internet and how my home computer must also be protected.

A Bachur:

MY LIFE WAS RUINED

I am a Chassidishe bachur and I’m considered one of the good bachurim of shidduch age today. Everyone wants me but no one knows who I truly am. I learned in the best yeshivos and was always considered outstanding and Chassidish, but the truth is different.

I have been using the Internet since I turned 13. I was always very careful and used it only for emailing and for seeing Chassidishe things. At first, I didn’t even read Chabad news sites. I considered that a waste of time and something inappropriate for a bachur of my caliber. At 17 I began allowing myself to use the Internet more and it slowly became an important part of my life. At every break in yeshiva, whenever I had free time, I had to see what was new in Lubavitch and what was new in the world. It became an obsession; every morning I went on the Internet in order to get the latest updates.

One night I was very bored. I went through my emails and all the Chabad news sites and still did not feel ready to go to sleep. I continued looking around for something to do. I went to the news because there was action in Eretz Yisroel and from there I went further and further … I ended up going to sleep at five in the morning after spending hours surfing sites that were not Chassidish at all.

I woke up late (noontime) and felt awful. I made a serious hachlata (resolution) that I would never do that again. It wasn’t worth it and was not at all appropriate for me, not spiritually and not any other way either. But after a week of t’filla and t’shuva I fell again, and this time it was worse than the previous time.

I wrote a pidyon nefesh to the Rebbe and promised that I would not do this again and I would not use the Internet at all without someone being in the room with me. That helped a little. Things improved that year. I fell “only” once a month, but I felt it was under control and each time I had another excuse as to why it happened. It usually happened when I wasn’t in a good frame of mind. Obviously, my life wasn’t the same as it once was – not my davening and not my learning. It was a constant battle.

After I finished the year, I was sent on shlichus. The responsibility of being a shliach and the understanding that the bachurim were looking up to me as a role model helped me remain strong. But after several months I got used to my new situation and I reverted to my old ways. Once, twice, three times, until it was no longer under control. I had a cell phone with Internet “for the shlichus” and I used it every day to visit different sites and things got worse from day to day.

On 11 Nissan I made a firm hachlata that I was going to stop and this lasted until Chol HaMoed. Until today, every time I tried to stop, it never lasted longer than a week. And each time I fell again, it was worse than the previous fall.

After I returned from shlichus, I went to learn smicha. There wasn’t any serious supervision and I definitely did not withstand the test. It affected my keeping the s’darim and my davening, as well as my relationship with friends. I am in my own world.

I’m of shidduchim age now and it is only now that I realize that this completely killed me. I can’t move on. I know that my future wife and children will suffer because of me. I have no self-control. I am addicted and my life is ruined. Please save me. I am willing to do anything to get out of this mess.

(Help was offered, both professional help with a frum psychologist who is an expert in Internet addiction and the help from Guard Your Eyes with their 12-Step program to stopping addiction).

The Principal:

A CHILD MAY NOT USE THE INTERNET, EVEN FILTERED!

As a principal in a Chabad school, I would like to thank you for the work you are doing in saving our children from the dangers they are exposed to. As a principal, I especially appreciate your making people aware of this burning issue since I see the destruction that the Internet wreaks on young people and the lack of understanding on the part of many parents.

I was recently a witness to an incident that showed me yet again how dangerous the Internet is and how careful we must be to protect our children. During recess I entered a classroom and saw two boys in an older grade whispering together and using a Smartphone, which they tried to hide when they saw me. I confiscated the phone and called the children into my office. Without getting into the details, they were looking at unacceptable things.

I called the parents down, but the father of the boy who owned the phone insisted that this could not have happened, because it is impossible to access the Internet on it. I am not a big maven when it comes to technology, but the father’s line of work is writing programs for cell phones and he firmly declared that he checked the gadget and he stands behind what he said.

I wanted to believe him and yet I had seen the children with the phone. I had no choice but to call the boy in and demand an explanation. It turns out that the boy had managed to circumvent the protection that his father, the computer expert, had said was impossible to circumvent. When I presented this to the father, he nearly fainted.

It is beyond me to understand why a parent provides such a gadget for a child and why he thinks it is necessary to put a child in danger with something he carries around with him all the time. I understand why adults find the Internet useful, but not one of those uses necessitates a child or bachur or even most adults walking around with the Internet in their pocket.

A parent who allows his child to access the Internet – whether it is with a Smartphone or by bringing the Internet into the house or anywhere else where children have access – sacrifices his child to Molech. Whoever thinks a filtered Internet is guaranteed protection should wise up and realize that the next generation is much savvier than us.

A child or yeshiva bachur has no need for Internet access, period. They are in school, in yeshiva, they have friends and their daily routine, and there is no reason in the world to make them face constant challenges. Even a parent who needs the Internet for work and received a rav’s okay should think long and hard about whether he is ready to possibly damage his children because of his needs.

A Wife:

WE THREW OUT THE COMPUTER AND GOT OUR LIVES BACK

I read all your articles about the Internet. It wasn’t the dangers that spoke to me but the article interviewing Dr. Shagalow who spoke about Internet addiction. Today I can say that Baruch Hashem my life is back on track, but it wasn’t that way a year ago. I was addicted to the anonymity and the escape of the computer to the point that you could say my life was mostly a virtual one.

My husband’s situation wasn’t any better and after several arguments over the computer we had the “ideal” solution. We bought another computer. That way, I could sit at one computer and he could sit at the other one, and we would be at peace.

Needless to say, our shalom bayis was destroyed and the main losers, besides my husband and myself, were our children, who did not get the attention they needed. I got the shock of my life when my son came home from preschool with a booklet in which each child drew what his mother does. Some children drew their mother playing with them, going shopping with them, etc. but my son drew me sitting at the computer. Oy, that hurt.

It wasn’t easy but we realized we had to get rid of the computers; otherwise, we would be back where we started. It is harder for me to find a special recipe for Shabbos now and my husband isn’t up-to-date on the latest politics, but it’s worth it because we got our lives back.

A young married man:

FOUR YEARS WASTED

I am 27 years old and married a few months. Your articles were particularly interesting to me since I was critically harmed by the Internet and it was only with G-d’s kindness that I was saved after years of suffering. Four years of my life were wasted in pain and despair and that was without being exposed to the sites that many others are hurt by.

By nature I am a highly intellectual person and the Internet for me was a never-ending source of stimulation, interesting articles, books and all kinds of information. Reading a lot online and forming a connection with other people drew me towards secular knowledge. From there I quickly moved to heretical material that shook up the foundation of my life.

I went through four years of suffering. All that time, no one around me understood why I was unable to find a shidduch, but I couldn’t get married in that state. It took me a long time until I found a mashpia whom I felt able to be open with and unburden myself. And it took a long time until I received answers to all the questions and doubts that had accumulated in my mind.

Now I can say that, Baruch Hashem, my faith is intact and I have started my own home with my wife, but it hurts me that those were years that could have been constructive and instead they were difficult, painful. We have answers to every question and our faith in Hashem is complete, but there is no reason to face an illogical and unnecessary test.

Mashgiach of Kashrus:

UNFILTERED INTERNET IS LIKE FOOD WITHOUT A HECHSHER

When I read the recent articles, it occurred to me that many readers probably think that filtered Internet is not very practical, since many people use the Internet at work and on shlichus. History shows that things like this happen in the religious world all the time and eventually become accepted as quite obvious and the norm.

For example, the kashrus of food is an industry that developed decades ago, but today people cannot imagine how it was previously. In the past, hardly anything was supervised and people did not really know what was kosher and what wasn’t. They relied on hearsay that a certain factory had fewer problems and another factory had more problems. Many families were lenient when it came to their children since they did not have clear information. Today, that situation no longer exists and a person can find out about any food item whether it is kosher or not and on what level of kashrus.

We are going through a similar process with the Internet, since the Internet has crept into many places without it being clear as to what is permissible and what is forbidden, what is appropriate and what not. As a result there have been many casualties. In recent years a “kashrus industry” of the Internet has been coming together in the form of filters, kosher providers, and other approaches. Now is the time for us “consumers” to start demanding only a kosher Internet and not a lenient kashrus, but like food – only stringent kashrus that we rely on 100%.

A Teacher:

COMPUTERS, EVEN WITHOUT INTERNET, ARE BAD FOR KIDS’ BRAINS

As a teacher for decades, even before the Internet came into our lives, I find this subject very difficult. I was glad to see that someone decided to speak openly about it.

As a teacher, I can easily figure out which child has a computer at home. I’m not talking about the Internet, but the computer itself. You can see which child gets real attention from his parents and which child spends hours on the computer. The computer is a cheap, easy and practical babysitting device, which allows parents some hours of quiet. By allowing a child to sit in front of the computer, he is not wrecking the house, fighting with his siblings or annoying his parents. The screen hypnotizes him.

You can also see the difference in what a child absorbs in the classroom depending on whether he plays computer games and watches movies (frum ones, of course) for hours or he plays with Legos, puzzles, drawing etc. It hurts to see smart kids who act as though their minds are blocked, who can’t concentrate on what they’re being taught. The irreligious population always said that when a child would spend his time in the classroom dreaming it was because of too much television viewing. Today, we can put the Internet on top of the list.

I have seen bright and talented children who had symptoms of ADHD who, after being examined by professionals, were told that they are spending too much time on the computer instead of on things that develop the brain and other senses.

So if there are children of shluchim who attend online school or a child who, for whatever reason, must use a computer, the parents must have set times for their computer usage (obviously I am talking about a filtered computer with all the precautions taken). Excessive use of the computer, viewing of videos, and playing of computer and Internet games, is destructive. Their usage must be under supervision and with clear limits.

A Father:

IT WON’T HAPPEN TO ME

The truth is that your series of articles didn’t tell me anything new, because I had heard a lot about the dangers of the Internet before, and I knew about the various filters. I knew about the importance of having a filter on my computer and did not oppose this. Also, since my job involves computers, the technical aspect wasn’t difficult for me either. Why then, wasn’t my computer filtered?

The answer is laziness and the mistaken thought that “It won’t happen to me.” I told myself, I have to take care of it, but didn’t feel it was urgent. I felt I had to take the time to find the best solution for me and in the meantime, nothing was done.

Sadly, I woke up too late. After reading about a surveillance program, I decided to put one on my computer and it reported to me every site that was visited. If I tell you that I was devastated when I got the report, it would not be an exaggeration. Now I am sitting and crying, not understanding how I brought this destructive device into my house and left it open and available. I can’t believe that I allowed my children unlimited access to dangerous sites. I am broken by this.

I am like the person who knows the importance of backing up documents on his computer but pushes it off time and again, who wakes up only when all his material is lost. Only then, a moment after the computer dies and the work of years is gone, does he back up his empty computer. Yes, now my computer is filtered, but who does this help? The innocence of one of my children is lost forever. I had only one chance to protect his purity and innocence, and I blew it, in my foolishness.

Please publicize my letter so that others will wake up before it’s too late. Dear readers, please don’t be fools. Don’t have the Internet in your house! If you must have a computer, make sure you are connected to kosher Internet and in addition, add a surveillance program. I beg you to learn from my mistakes.

***

Before we conclude this series of articles, we would like to remind our readers of the site guardyoureyes.com which has a lot of information about filters, help in installing filters, and even a filter gabbai to keep your password for you. In addition to this important information the site offers help for those who have been caught by the “net,” by providing tools to get out of computer and Internet addiction.

 

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