One of the premises for the Asifa and the subsequent edicts that have been issued severely regulating the Internet, according to highly placed spokespeople like [redacted], is that the Internet is an inherent danger and the secular world is completely at a loss as to how to deal with the Internet. Luckily, the right wing orthodox Jewish community is available to sound the alarm and protect ourselves and everyone else from the cesspool that is the world wide web. If not for the holy Asifa and the “halachos” of the Internet the entire world is at risk. [See: In Support of the Internet Asifa and The Asifa is Done: I Was Fooled]
I dispute this premise.
People in the secular world have been dealing with the challenges of the Internet for a decade and a half. This is not a new problem. New computers come with features to address these issues. Parents are able to attend local seminars and meetings to discuss and learn about how to manage the Internet in their lives. There are articles and books on Internet addiction. There is a wealth of material on Internet safety in the secular world.
Smart people don’t need an Asifa.
Whether or not one likes President Obama as a president or a person, he seems to have a good grasp of this issue. In a recent NY Times article, the First Daughters are profiled and the parenting techniques of their parents are discussed.
The Obamas have a lot of rules.
This is their technology rule:
Technology is for weekends. Malia may use her cellphone only then, and she and her sister cannot watch television or use a computer for anything but homework during the week.
That’s a great rule. And they came up with it without attending the Asifa. Remarkable.
I am not saying this rule is perfect for all orthodox Jewish kids. I am saying that a reasonable rule is not an impossible thing to come up with on one’s own. The need for a multi-million dollar convention to teach common sense speaks to a greater danger than the Internet in our lives. It speaks to a lack of common sense.
I personally know of children in the right wing orthodox Jewish community with full access to the Internet. There is no supervision over this access. They have iPods and iPads and iPhones before their age reaches double digits. They play on the DS or Wii on every night of the week. They watch videos and play Jetpack Joyride until the wee hours of the night. I am talking about pre-teens. When they get older, they have even more access. This is just plain dumb.
We need more common sense when it comes to technology. If the Asifa taught us anything, it’s that for some reason, people are oftentimes incapable of making intelligent basic parenting choices. That is a lot scarier than the Internet.
The underlying premise of the Asifa should not have been that the rest of the world needs our help with dealing with the Internet. Their premise should have been that we need to look to the secular world for help with dealing with the Internet.
I outlined some of my suggestions here: Jewish Action Magazine Takes on Social Media
By the way, the Obamas have some more rules that we can all learn from. Read the article in the NY Times.
Link: NY Times