Most kids are home-schooling these days with Zoom. Parents are giving their kids laptops and phones, trusting them to use it only for the right things. But GuardYourEyes.com has been getting hundreds of new cases of young teens (14-15 yrs old) who are turning to us for help, having discovered shmutz by mistake or through curiosity, through the devices their parents gave them to use for Zoom. Having a lot of time on their hands, they are falling in and finding it impossible to control themselves.
When we suggest they speak to their parents about putting a filter on their device, they claim to be too ashamed to discuss it, lest their parents suspect they have a problem! Some are asking us to sponsor filters for them so that they can get a filter installed without their parents knowing…
We got a call recently from a 15 year old boy, another victim of Zoom learning. He was crying uncontrollably and needed a lot of chizuk and guidance…. He had been very sheltered until now, he has no phone or email account. But now he has access to his father’s unfiltered computer to learn with chavrusas on zoom, and he has been watching a lot of shmutz for hours each day. It has totally consumed his mind and it’s all he can think about. It fills him with questions, but he has no one to ask. He feels sad all the time, but his parents don’t know the real reason why.
The other day, a 14 year old boy wrote us the following:
“I only really started (looking at shmutz) last week, now that class is on zoom. I have an excuse to use a computer with no one watching, but I’m going down fast. I don’t have the strength to hold back. I have not spoken to my parents as I am ashamed and scared to.”
The damage is lasting, as an 18 year old wrote us last week:
“I’m always depressed because I could never stop and that just makes me in a bad mood a lot and then your parents get upset at you. But inside it’s killing you and you wish you could tell them why you are sad. I’m hiding two lives basically, and no one knows about it because you’re embarrassed to tell anyone so therefore whenever you’re down about it you can’t get chizzuk from somebody else like your parents or a friend. So basically you have to pick yourself up, which becomes increasingly hard the more you fall in.”
When these boys reach out to guardyoureyes.com, we give them chizuk and encouragement not to give up. We explain to them that while the desire is normal, dealing with it in the proper way is very rewarding. We help them reach the conclusion that viewing such materials is not worthwhile, and give them suggestions on how to deal with urges and break free.
But there’s not that much we can do without you. Most boys don’t reach out to guardyoureyes.com. For every one who does, another 99 do NOT. And even for those who do, there is little we can do. We need your help to succeed.
What can YOU do as parents?
1) Be aware of the issue! Normal children will be curious, and they have a Yetzer Hara too. Coupled with the fact that they have lots of time on their hands and unmonitored access to the web is a recipe for disaster.
2) Make sure all the devices your child has access to are filtered. If you don’t know where to start, go to guardyoureyes.com/protection and fill out the simple online form and the filter company will get back to you and help you install and set it up remotely. But ideally this should be done by professionals like TAG (click here to find a TAG office near you). You might want to also consider a monitoring program like webchaver.com. Don’t hesitate to invest effort and money to get the best possible solution, your child’s life is worth it. Do it today!
3) Don’t get overconfident. Even if you have a filter, you need to keep your finger on the pulse. As a 13 year old fresh victim wrote to us this week: “I have a filter- but I don’t know if you know this or not, but there isn’t really a filter that actually blocks this stuff. Some make it harder to get, but none can really stop it.” Do not allow the use of internet connected devices in closed rooms.
4) Have a discussion with your child about these things. Talk to them about puberty and desire. Explain to them that struggling is normal and common for boys and teens. Make them feel that this is a subject that they can feel free to discuss with you at any time and that they can be open with you. If they report a problem, don’t blame or criticize them, otherwise they’ll be afraid to open up with you in the future. For a conversation guide write to [email protected]. To download “The Kedusha Talk” click here.
By keeping your home safe and having open conversations with your child, you’ll help ensure your children will have healthy futures.
For comments or questions, write to [email protected].