Many children today are addicted to technology such as cell phones, video games, TVs, DVDs and portable MP3 players—and Rabbi Shmuley says it's corrupting their minds and bodies. He talks about the negative effects of too much technology and what parents can do to keep kids happily connected to the real world.
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."