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Israel’s SMS Fever And Physical Inactivity Of Students

yw text1.jpgWhile a new World Health Organization study places Israeli students last in sporting activities, one cannot say the same for the students’ use of their thumbs and other fingers to hammer our SMS text messages on their cellular phones, with Israel ranking 4th on the international scale.

Not more than 6% of female 10th graders and 13% of male 10th graders participate in sports during their free time, placing us at the bottom of the study involving 41 nations.

Dr. Yossi Harel-Fish, the WHO’s leading researcher in Israel is quite concerned over what he views as alarming statistics. The Bar-Ilan University researcher explains this shows Israel is not successful in teaching students the value of daily physical activity, a well-balanced diet and maintaining one’s body in good physical condition.

The daily Yediot Achronot reports that 60% of female 10th graders and 44% of male 10th graders use their cellular telephones to remain in daily contact with their closest friends.

Harel-Fish lamented that instead of physical activities, endless hours are spent playing with cellular phones and staring at computer screens. He adds that instead of remaining in touch with one another in person, the electronic media has replaced personal contact, not a welcome reality.

It appears that since Israeli students prefer to lift their cell phones instead of weights and to surf the internet instead of the sea, it is understandable perhaps that Israeli students are in second place for complaining of headaches and other symptoms at least once a week.

Despite the alarming statistics that every fourth Israeli child is a victim of verbal and/or physical abuse, the headaches and other symptoms, most of them nevertheless describe themselves as content, fulfilled.

No less than 90% of 6th, 8th and 10th graders describe themselves as content, placing Israel in sixth place in that international competition. Dr. Harel-Fish attributes this to the connection that exists between the children and their parents, their families and their communities.

In the international rating regarding sporting activities, the leader is Slovakia, followed by Greenland, America and Belgium in forth place. France is listed in 38th place, Portugal (39), Russia (40) and Israel (41).

International rating of use of electronic devices: Lithuania (1), Russia (2), Denmark (3), Israel (4), Holland (38), Hungary (39), Switzerland (40) and Turkey (41).

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

2 Responses

  1. why do they need sports – they’re going to the army anyway? 🙂 (and for the frum people who B”H don’t do army, don’t worry, we have Kosher phones, where you can’t send an SMS)

  2. This is not so much an Israeli phenomena as a Jewish one. I went to a public High School in America that was about 95% Jewish. The only teacher, that I knew about, that was not Jewish was Mr. Hanson, the gym teacher. He was a nice enough guy but in a constant state of frustration. Our High School was the only one in the city without a football team and no mater how hard he tried, he just could never reconcile himself to this. His comments about our lack of manliness were not so much anti-Semitic as they were bafflement. (I came across a similar astonishment once when I was sitting in an airplane next to a vegetarian who was in turn sitting next to a hard-core carnivore. He just could not believe that there existed people on this planet that did not eat meat. It some how violated his fundamental concept of reality.) There just was no Jewish mother (or father) that was going to let her kid get bashed up in the name of entertainment.

    We had a pretty good basketball team but the real winner in city wide competitions was our choir. It was always in the top three in the city and often number one.

    In case you were wondering, yes, we were also in the top three in students that went on to college, SAT scores and the all the other academic type things you would expect from such a high percentage of Jews in a High School but no football team. The other two High Schools? One was also about 90%+ Jewish and the other was the special technical/science High School that you have to pass an entrance exam to enter. It also had a pretty high percentage of Jews.

    Nevertheless it is still important for Jewish children (and adults) to be healthy and sports is one of the ways to insure this. What I suspect is part of the problem is the lack of suitable choices. The primary sports available to Israeli children are soccer, basketball and, very recently, baseball . These are all high energy, high impact sport that are appropriate for only a certain body type and can be damaging to the wrong person. What I suspect happens is that after unsuccessfully participating in one of these sports, the child looses interest in continuing. Swimming is also available to most Israelis but is more often used as a social event then as a form of exercise.

    So what to do? Widening the range of activities available in the High Schools and Community Centers would be a good way to begin. Government subsidies that would allow these activities to be totally free also would not hurt. In the past when such proposals were brought up, there was the expected sigh from the Government that they agree to the need for all this but there is just no money to pay for it. Somehow this just does not satisfy anyone today. After all it is public knowledge that the Government is sitting on a few tens of billions of Shekels of surplus tax money. Also every month, come what may, they are able to pay the PLO at least $50 Million in tribute. So what is really behind this miserliness when it come to Israeli children?

    My suspicion is that it is a lack of personal involvement by those in the Government that causes this indifference towards Israel’s children. It is a well publicized fact that many of the key member of this and previous Israeli Governments do not have their children living in Israel. Furthermore, those that do, for the most part, do not send them to the public school system but to expensive, private schools that already have all the facilities the general public is requesting. This is further compounded by an electoral system that isolates elected officials from the public and makes them responsible only to their political (or financial) bosses. So why should they care about the welfare and health of an Israeli child? Why should they spend “their” money on something that they see no benefit to themselves?

    After all, are these not the same people who have abandoned entire cities and regions to Arab missiles? Why would we expect people who are totally unconcerned by the death of children or adults to suddenly be concerned about their health?

    So once again we must return to the necessity of fundamental political and structural change in Israel. Without it nothing will change for the better.

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