Children and Technology
How Technology Corrupts Children:
- Technology is addictive. Rabbi Shmuley says it pulls children away from their parents and causes the family to fragment.
- Technology turns kids into boring zombies. Rather than educating and engaging children, technology "snuffs out creativity" and turns them into what Rabbi Shmuley calls "the living dead, who sit open-mouthed, jaws agape, amid mind-numbing, two-dimensional images."
- Technology leads to laziness and childhood obesity. Children become immobile, sedentary and lethargic around technology when they could be interacting with other kids, exercising and playing outdoors, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Technology causes children to stop reading. "They get addicted to the visual and abandon the written word," which is detrimental to their intellectual growth, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Technology prevents face-to-face interaction. "[Children] don't know how to verbally communicate," Rabbi Shmuley says. "They hide behind the protection of a monitor and keyboard."
- Technology separates children from nature. As a result, children are losing the sense of awe, majesty and wonder that only the natural world can inspire, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Technology depersonalizes everything. "It creates a reality of always being once-removed," Rabbi Shmuley says. "It is cold and distant. Silicon replaces flesh."
How to Limit Technology in the Home:
- Boycott all technology at least once a week. In Rabbi Shmuley's home, the Sabbath is a day when all technology—including phone calls, e-mail and TV—is forbidden. It's his family's favorite day of the week!
- Put strict limits on TV, video games and computer time. Limit your children's use of technology to one hour a day, Rabbi Shmuley says. Instead, encourage them to read by taking frequent trips to bookstores and libraries and by giving them books.
- When you take long drives, play games in the car. Don't buy cars that have built-in TVs, and if you do, use them sparingly, he says.
- If children break the rules, make sure there are consequences. Get the electronics and video games out of the house, and take away their cell phones if necessary, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Do outdoor activities with kids. Parents can get involved by being camp counselors or coaching sports, he says.
- Model a good example. Don't become a couch potato, Rabbi Shmuley says.
"Video games are to children what gambling is to adults: a waste of energy, a waste of time and a waste of resources. They are utterly addictive and are toxic cures for boredom. Children should interact with real people, not silicon substitutes, and should be playing with a baseball and riding a bike, not holding a joystick."