School orientation sessions are usually very predictable. You can expect to hear about school policies, schedules, tznius guidelines, and the like. But at a recent orientation session of Bais Shaindel High School in Lakewood, parents found themselves getting an education, a rude awakening, and chizuk about a very different topic – the dangers that cellular phones pose to teenagers.
According to Bais Shaindel’s menaheles, Rebbetzin Miller, addressing this topic publicly is crucial. “Many well-meaning parents are completely unaware of what the problems of cell phones are. They also are convinced that it could never happen to families like theirs.”
Rather than arranging for a drasha from a rov on the subject, Bais Shaindel asked R’ Shraga Weber, proprietor of Lakewood Beepers and a Bais Shaindel parent to speak. As a purveyor of cellular phones, Mr. Weber is uniquely qualified to address this topic. He has attended numerous meetings with gedolim and has spoken publicly about the dangers of cell phones on many occasions.
“The number one problem with cell phones is that of text messaging. Parents simply do not understand that it is absolutely addictive. Teenagers are completely obsessed with texting.” There is no one who knows about this firsthand more than Mr. Weber. “The father of a prominent family called me up and said, ‘I gave my children the best chinuch possible, sent them to the best yeshivos. Then my son gave me all the reasons why he must have a cell phone, and I eventually gave in and bought him one. Two months later he was out of yeshiva.’ ”
Mr. Weber provided parents with a detailed explanation of the ominous features that most cell phones have, from chat rooms to fashion shows to television.
Because of his occupation Mr. Weber is in a unique position: He knows both the level of danger of standard cell phones as well as numerous horror stories of victims.
“The other day someone brought in their daughter’s phone for repairs. “Upon accessing her account, I discovered that over a very short period of time she had logged nearly 7 ½ thousand text messages! Her parents were dumbfounded. The girl herself called up to explain that any inappropriate messages we may have seen weren’t really hers but from friends who had borrowed her phone. I should add that this girl was from a regular frum family and school. The incident is so instructive, because it illustrates both the addictiveness as well as the shocking downward spiral of ruchniyus that are typical of call phone users.”
Because of the prevalence of forwarding jokes via text, it is not uncommon for a joke from a girl to reach that of an unknown boy – perhaps a brother’s friend. A casual response “liked your joke!” can be enough to trigger a relationship that can result in tragedy.
R’ Shraga Weber is a strong advocate of the Purely Voice “kosher phone.” And he sees it as his responsibility to persuade customers in his store to use only kosher phones. “Boruch Hashem there are hundreds and hundreds of Purely Voice users in Lakewood.”
What about just getting a conventional service contract with Sprint or other companies, and simply blocking the undesired features? Mr. Weber explained in his presentation why that is not a viable option.
“When a block is applied to cell phone plan, as soon as any change is made to the plan, such as adding minutes, the block is automatically removed, even if not requested. Besides, I myself did the following experiment: I called up Sprint and told the representative that I couldn’t remember my password but really needed to reinstall text messaging – could he please help me? Of course, the rep was happy to comply.”
R’ Shraga told the parents of his meetings with gedolim, including Rav Aharon Schechter, Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky, Rav Yosef Rosenblum, where they emphatically expressed their opinion that text messaging is the gravest danger that teenage boys and girls face today. In fact, Rav Rosenblum, despite his ill health, is actively involved in the Purely Voice endeavor, and encourages everyone to use only the Purely Voice kosher phone.
Hopefully, the trend will continue, and more and more individuals will heed the call of the gedolim and make the switch to the Purely Voice kosher phone. And in the merit of increasing kedusha v’tahara in our machaneh, we will merit to have the Shechina dwell among us once again.
(Dov Gordon – YWN NYC)