Keep Our Phones Smart and Our Homes Pure

From the Inbox: Much ink and many bytes have been spilled discussing the benefits and dangers that phone and internet technology has for our homes and mental, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing. Here are some additional points to consider.

By a member of anash

Much ink and many bytes have been spilled discussing the benefits and dangers that phone and internet technology has for our homes and mental, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing.

A key distinction that many fail to make is the one between being a consumer, and being an influencer, and what healthy boundaries we can make to be effective and healthy at both.

The famous instructions that the Rebbe made regarding the TV, how it is to be thrown out of the home, is often juxtaposed against how the Rebbe’s farbrengens were broadcasted on TV for the world to see. Radio is another area where Tanya was aired on the waves for spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outwards. Are we meant to have and use these things or not?

And what about the smartphone? How does this stack up against the smartphone which has radio, TV, and all of it amplified/on steroids via social media at fingers’ reach?

This isn’t the place to elaborate on it, but I want briefly to acknowledge the benefits and dangers that these devices carry.

Of the ways their tremendous capabilities enrich our lives, b’ruchnius – they allow us to spread and learn Torah like never before where one post might inspire people across the globe and to learn from our favorite teachers the moment they share an inspiring thought or podcast, wherever they are. B’gashmius – they allow us to easily do banking, shopping, searching for information, connecting across country boundaries, avoiding traffic, and many more benefits.

Of its dangers, these are well known. Would we bring a buffet plate of treif and kosher foods into our home and tell ourselves and our families not to eat the bad stuff? The outright harmful and inappropriate things on it are there within everyone’s reach. Even with a decent filtering solution (these must be fine-tuned and kept updated), the risk of it failing and undesirable content making it through remains.

However, a less talked about point is how the devices keep us distracted. Instead of focusing on our spouses and kids, our interest and focus is turned to the next notification, WhatsApp status, update from the war, Instagram story, you name it. As a result, we’re just not the same. Our patience is diminished and thinned out.

We go through the motions of being present (if even that), but even that is with lessened enthusiasm like when someone merely tastes ice cream and then proceeds to eat dinner with a now compromised appetite. Why can’t we reserve our time at home to be with our kids, spouses, and ourselves?

If you want to experience the difference yourself, leave your phone out of the home for 2 evenings and then reflect on how it went and whether you felt more patient, present, and happy to be there.

The Mission

If our mission is to be an influencer, then it’s quite obvious that we can do this at set times, at set places, and that there is no need to carry our phones with us to our homes, bedrooms, and bathrooms. We can teach, inspire, and broadcast good vibes and lessons at a time and place of our choosing, maximizing the opportunity that technology presents us with.

If our goal is to be a consumer, then I ask the same question – can we have set times and places where we consume the benefits of our phone, look stuff up, pay our bills, order items, check the news, etc. Must we do it from our bedrooms, bathrooms, and homes? What I’m challenging you is to be conscientious of the harm and distraction that it brings, and for you to ask yourself if the benefits are really worth it.

The Proposed Solution

Keep the smartphone out of the home. Don’t get me wrong, keep it, have it properly filtered, and have it in a public place where you can go and reap its full benefits.

As for the home, let’s keep it pure, free of distractions, and together cultivate a more positive and pleasant environment where we can enjoy and spend time with one another, where our kids can bond with us, and thereby introduce more Kedushah and blessings into our home.

Oh and for the practical part of phone connectivity and reachability at home, get a simple mobile kosher phone or a home phone. They’re cheap, easy to set up, and get the job done.

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  1. Because even if we keep the phone at home and choose hours to keep it off, it’s too easy to open it here and there, and here and there…

    A pnimi is someone who does something whole heartedly, completely invested in each activity.
    Really hard to do with constant phone availabity.

    Another point to consider: Rabbi Shmuel Wudowsky AH taught that before choosing a siddur to daven from, there are those who would choose the most worn out- because of all the tefillos davened from it. It’s a dimension to davening that just can’t happen when davening with a phone.

  2. The author makes a correct theological scenario for an Anash household. Nevertheless, there are free internet devices that many children can obtain (Including purchasing cheap smartphones) that the parents will never discover. The author is living in a “perfect word” mindset, but reality is what plays the game.

    1. The point is that we need to put away our own phones for our own good. If you want to beat the system, you always can.

    2. From the angle of shielding one’s kids from it, you’re right. This definitely doesn’t replace Chinuch and teaching them the values where they themselves will know how to approach technology properly. It IS still valuable though to avoid exposing them to it early on, at home, putting it in their hands, and leaving them to fend for themselves. That’s literally a stumbling block.

      The article is more of a reflection for each one of us. It’s not that I can’t get ahold of a device like that. I can. The question is whether or not I want to introduce it into my home and decide that that is where I want my struggle with having a healthy balance with technology to be. Most people struggle with the distractions of technology. I can choose though to move the battleground away from my home.

    3. If you want to keep cooking, the phone cannot be the main character. Facts.

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