Ask the Rabbi

  • Halacha
  • Computers and Internet

using smart phones


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Shevat 22, 5782
can children use smartphones in religious communities? how does it work? any sources
ב"ה Shalom If this is a question for your community, you should ask your local Rabbi. As any other form of media, radio, tv, internet , newspapers, magazines, there are things which may be heard or seen, but unfortunately there are many things which are forbidden to be seen. So, once you have answered for yourself, which educational guidelines and standards you have set for yourself, you can ask your Rabbi how to conduct yourself in this matter. Nonetheless, it should be said as Rav Yacov Ariel shlit"a, has already written in the Hebrew counterpart of this website, a smartphone MUST have internet filters. It is almost identical to the obligation of placing a guard rail on your roof lest someone fall off the rooftop. (Devarim 22:8) If a phone does not have an internet filter, a person can fall G-d forbid in to the terrible sewage which can be found on the internet. Once, we have arranged that then we can consider educational values. A child with a cell phone can spend endless hours playing games, watching movies, or just surfing on the internet with no real purpose. This goes before even mentioning the endless social networks where kids can spend their time exchanging , pictures, notes, and likes. Kids can be so distracted, they may begin to stare at their phones during school lessons. The social networks also have the downside of kids causing shaming to their friends which can do terrible harm to a kid's emotions. Even posting a picture with one friend and labeling him or her as the best friend can be insulting, because the person not chosen can feel hurt. This is after dealing with the negative content which is available on the internet for everyone if the phone is not properly filtered, as I mentioned at the beginning. There is also the consideration of how a child will feel socially if he does not have a smartphone when all the kids in his class do have one. Therefore, getting a cellphone for a child needs careful consideration, preparation and guidance. Perhaps be in touch with the school's guidance counselor and find out how they deal with it in the school. Some schools have careful guidelines of dealing with cellphones. , It goes without saying, that the school Rabbi should be consulted and finding out his policy and attitude. All the best
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