(Keyword: safety) (Published: December 2012 / טבת תשע”ג)
Be aware. Driver’s Ed teachers generally begin their first class with this opening line: “A car is a lethal weapon.” The message is clear: The first step toward becoming a responsible driver is to become aware that a car has the potential to kill. If one is unaware of the potential dangers of the internet, he will not be able to protect himself against them. Acknowledge the dangers.
The internet is a microcosm of the world. Everything – good and bad – that can be found in the world can be found online. Having said that, it’s not surprising that 12% of all websites were designed for the sole purpose of disseminating internet immorality*. In addition, the internet also offers instant access to gossip, slander and other harmful content. Everything we read influences us on some level, even if we vehemently disagree. Keep a safe distance.
* i.e. commercialized explicit material
Staggering statistics. Besides for the breaches it causes in sanctity and purity, internet immorality breaks up families, destroys lives, and causes severe financial losses. 56% of all divorces in the United States involve a husband or a wife who is addicted to internet immorality.* One third of people who become addicted lose their jobs. And addicts are twice as likely to suffer from severe clinical depression.
* Study conducted by Matrimonial Lawyers Association
Don’t take that first cigarette. While smoking one cigarette won’t make you an addict, one exposure may be all it takes to jumpstart an internet immorality addiction. Experts say that recovering from an internet immorality addiction is more difficult than recovering from a substance addiction.
Think before you click. In the physical world, getting around takes time. If one is tempted to go to the wrong places, he has an opportunity to reevaluate and change his mind on the way. However, on the digital superhighway, all it takes is a split second. Get into the habit of “thinking before you click.”
Don’t be naïve. Many parents assume “my kid would never do that”. Recognize that it’s natural for every healthy child to be curious. Your child is a good kid, but he’s no exception. Don’t hand your child a loaded gun.
Don’t let yourself become a click-vegetable. Whether you use the internet for business, bill payments, or Torah study, maintaining a clear goal while browsing is crucial. Don’t just click for the sake of clicking or your brain will rot. Stay focused.
Patience is prime. Internet products are often advertised as “instant” and “with the click of a mouse…”. If having information readily available enables us to be more productive – that’s great. But it can also lead us to believe that “anything that’s not instant is not worth having”. Spiritual growth requires enormous patience.
Life is a tremendous opportunity. Don’t click your days into oblivion. Accomplish, grow, excel; make the most of your life!
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