Children and adults alike are spending more and more time connecting online through various social networking websites. While in many cases these sites provide a fun and harmless way to interact, Rabbi Shmuley says some people are falling into the trap of becoming obsessed with virtual relationships and identities. He says they spend countless hours hiding behind a monitor and fail to develop real social skills that come from face-to-face contact.
To avoid the pitfalls of this growing technological frontier, Rabbi Shmuley lays down his ground rules for connecting with others online in a healthy and safe manner.
- Do not spend too much time on social networking sites. "Certainly not more than an hour a day and preferably half that," Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Do not put your whole private life online. "Just a little," he says. "Preserve some mystery."
- Do not try and be the center of attention by posting every emotion and every trivial detail of your being. "People have their own lives. So should you," Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Try and use your profiles and friends list for something good, such as highlighting charitable projects and reminding people of a friend's birthday.
"[Social networking websites] risk cultivating a narcissistic generation of shameless attention-seekers and exhibitionists. They are powerful tools, which can be used for a lot of good—like creating virtual communities and highlighting good causes. The key is to use them for virtuous ends and always in moderation."