Readers’ Matzav: The Real Dangers of Cell Phones vs. What They Tell You


text-messagingDear Editor,

I read your article yesterday about a gathering for high school parents in Lakewood and what I found interesting was not so much the article but the comments to the story.

Some of the commenters are obviously so lost on this.

I am 20 years old, several years removed from what I would call “my stage.” I went through a difficult time. By the time I was really struggling, cell phones were the least of my problems. However, what I want to just tell you and your readers is that a cell phone was the main thing for me to get where I wanted to go at that point in my life. You can’t wipe away the power of a cell phone but not for the reasons people believe.

Let me give you an example to make my point. People say that cell phones are dangerous because they have internet access. I hate to break it to you, but that’s the least of the problem. (Internet access can be gotten at any library, so the internet is not the issue. As for television being on the phone, I hate to say but as some point television is the least of the problems of a kid at risk.) The most dangerous part of the cell phone, at least when I had one at about age 15 or 16, were the chain text messages I would get letting me know where the “action” was. I know this is a kosher site, so I won’t get specific, but if I wanted to hang out, how would I find out where to go? It was all through my cell phone. I would get a text: “Go right now to Ave. M and 18th. Some people there.” My cell phone was my window to the world I wanted to be a part of.

There was a while when my phone broke and I had to save up money for a new one. During the time, I had to borrow phones and get by otherwise and I felt lost. I couldn’t stay in touch with my “friends” (others who were also struggling with themselves, their self esteem, their parents, etc.).

So are phones and text messages themselves dangerous? I don’t think they are like the internet. It is the stuff and info I got and the networking that I was able to do that I think was and probably is the main factor.

Been There and Have Crawled Back


  1. Great piece. What I’d like to know is would he have gone off without the cell phone? Was it the cause or did it just make it easier?

  2. Thank you, I’ve been screaming this every time I see an article about another asifia. There is nothing wrong with text messages per-say, but it’s the method of choice for hocking up. Until the great experts either know this or admit this, it’s hopeless. They give all sorts of ridiculous reasons about whats wrong with messaging, without making any sense.

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this topic, you have spoken from the heart to enter into the heart! I am a teacher and what you have commented about the texts are correct. They are the silent killer of this young generation, (along with other things)!
    Wishing you much hatzlacha in all your future endeavours!

  4. It is nice to see a thinking young man out there. Not simply blaming the objects they use, but looking at their individual life situation and taking responsibility for themselves. Good on you.

  5. if texting will make you go offf the derech than uchh un vey on us. perhaps the backbone in our chadaerim are not so solid. . every generation has a yetzer hiora. untill a person is able to over come his yetzer nothing will help. a person can go off the derech just walkinbg into walmart so maybe stop living altogether . what happened to self control

  6. #5 children don’t have that much self control, which is why they need parents / educators guiding them. If you give your child to much independence you can’t expect them to stay straight – theres to much going on out there. When they get older and learn self control and self respect (hopefully) then you can slowly start giving them their independence.

  7. Technology is here to stay and it cannot be wished away. Balanced thinking, correct priorities and alot of tolerance are what is needed.

  8. I beleieve the cause of Kids at Risk today is the kids’ feeling that they’re living in a Straight-jacket, and can’t vary at all in their goals, dreams and lifestyle. Mode of communication is irrelevant. We’re not listening to WHAT the kids are communicating to one another, and concentrating totally on HOW they’re communicating with one another.

  9. #6 it has nothing to do with independence. They need love and Sipuk at home and Yeshivos. My children had cell phones & BH we had no problems of what was described in this article. My son now in Yeshiva just changed his cell phone to a Kosher one without us asking him to change & his Yeshiva didn’t ask him either.
    I heard in the name of Rabbi Fisher Viner Rav of Monsey (didn’t hear it myself) internet is the second problem the first is the “YESIVOS LEMITZIUNIM”

  10. I think #8 is the poster closest to the reality of the situation. In Europe no one expected that everyone would learn in kollel. To be kovea ittim while earning a living/having a career was the norm. Yet somehow they still managed to produce the Chofetz Chaim and all the other Gedolim. A boy in our system with no head for Gemara is finished. Nothing he can do will get him recognition, although his rebbeim will give him plenty of attention of the unpleasant kind. If he’s interested in medicine or engineering, he’d better keep his mouth shut, because he’ll get branded as a “shaygetz” in the making.

    In the 1950’s it was necessary to encourage everyone who was willing to sit and learn, because very few people were motivated, and the ones that were usually had opposition from their families. Baruch HaShem those times are past. Now we have to create a balance between encouraging those who have both the desire and the ability to learn full-time, and recognizing the differences among individuals, and giving credit to those who continue to learn part time while also doing other things.

    If only one out of a thousand turns out to be a posek, what about the other 999?

  11. I get the article…but is there something wrong with texting in general? For example: adults who are not going to hang out who want fast communication…

  12. With all due respect, I really don’t see how banning cell phones for teen agers will solve any problems. Speaking from experience, if a kid has a taiva NOTHING will stop him. He’ll find ways to look at/ do questionable things.
    The real problem is, what does someone do when he is having big struggles with
    Shmiras Einayim? I really don’t feel like the teen agers these days are equipped with the necessary tools to help combat the VERY POWERFUL forces of secular society. And until this problem is addressed; until kids are taught how to channel their taiva, we are in deep trouble. I really don’t like playing the blame game, but I feel like I have to say that I don’t think most parents and educators fathom the extent of the nisayon that secular media has on child/teenager. The reason I am confident in my assumption is that if they were aware, I think that most teachers would cancel their Halacha/Chumash… classes and get their students help ASAP.
    We shouldn’t wait for someone to Chas V’shalom go off the derech, rather with foresight these issues should be adressed in all schools. And don’t be worried about addressing these issues for fear of “unsheltering those who are innocent and naive”. Unfortunately, in this day and age there aren’t too many of those who exist.
    And for those of you who are wondering, this is’t just a problem affecting boys. There are far too many girls (perhaps event more than boys) struggling with Shmiras Einayim. I know because I happen to be a girl who struggles constantly. I’d like to know if anyone has any wisdom to offer on this topic.

  13. you can see these guys prattling on their cell phones with such intensity that they don’t even look where they’re going.

    And they chat at the top of their lungs without regard for others in the vicinity.

    What’s worse—because it involves possible “Sakanos Nefashos”—some cell phone knuckle heads converse with one hand on the wheel while driving.
    Dr. Arnold Berger

  14. Dear #15 Frustrated,

    It is very very difficult but there are a few things that can help a bit.

    First, do not think the issurim are only there to torture you and take away all your pleasure. They are actually there to make you a happier person. The more you accomplish, the happier you will be. For example, let’s say you want to become a nurse or doctor. You need to study long and hard. If you tell yourself that I will never pass my tests if I get distracted and then have to give up my dreams, you will realize that it is good to force yourself to study even though you would rather party.

    Also, imagine there is a patient who is dying of cancer and you are the one who can potentially cure him. If you mess up and don’t put everything you have into research, he may die.

    Don’t do it because it is a religious issue, do it because your life depends on it.