Saving Our Children, One Phone At a Time

Highlighting Our Own: Parents worldwide feel the responsibility and pressure of raising wholesome children despite the rampant phone addiction culture. One organization has an actual, practical, and effective, solution for the epidemic.

By reporter

A big challenge the parents of our generation are facing is trying to raise children who are tempted daily with an addiction that hasn’t been around in the past: the smartphone. With M.U.S.T. ‘Mothers Unite to Stall Technology’, they can now breathe a sigh of relief.

“The dynamic force called technology, could hold a family hostage in their own home,” says Mrs. Simcha Minkowitz, a concerned mother and active M.U.S.T. volunteer.

Previously, most of the prevalent addictive substances weren’t really a concern for parents of young children, they were more concerned about those things with their teenagers and young adults. Now, parents of children as young as second and first grade are shocked and baffled when their kids come home from school begging for a phone.

In a speech to the community, Dr. Eli Rosen, a pediatrician for over thirty years who knows the intimate ins and outs of thousands of families in Crown Heights shared his close-up views.

“I see hundreds of our children who come to my office. I’m there in the trenches. All of a sudden, I’m seeing something I never saw before, and it’s frightening: I’m seeing an epidemic of anxiety in children. The most important cause of anxiety is disconnection. It’s at the root of this epidemic, and one of the most powerful drivers of disconnection is the cellphone.”

In the sea of worry and darkness, appeared a group of brave mothers who formed the organization M.U.S.T. – Mothers Unite to Stall Technology. The organization acknowledges the power technology has on us and isn’t attempting to ban it, just to push it off as much as possible.

Started by Mrs. Michal Klerer and Mrs. Nechy Eisenstadt, it then spread to the Chabad community not long after.

“I was at a mental health retreat we do in the mountains each summer about to go to a speech titled “But Everyone Has One” about how to deal with our children’s peer pressure regarding devices when the idea came to me. I brought up the idea to the speaker, Dr. David Pelcovitz, who is an expert on technology and children. He absolutely loved it,” shares Mrs. Klerer. “He was so excited by it, that he told me to present it to the women after his speech and start the organization on the spot. So that’s exactly what we did.”

The organization’s goal is to stall the usage of any kind of device until the kids grow up, one year at a time. The way they do it is by uniting mothers class by class to make a pact together to either not buy their children a phone that year, or if the mothers decide it’s an age that they can’t hold off any longer, they make a pact to forbid social media or have restrictions and filters. The power in this is that the mothers set limits all together so their kids don’t feel pressured by their classmates.

Mrs. Gila Schechter was the first in a group of Lubavitch mothers to bring the program to Crown Heights.

“I was speaking to my sister, Mrs. Batya Tenenbaum about not getting my daughter a phone next year when she gets to ninth grade and she was appalled. ‘You’re going to turn her into a social pariah- she won’t have any friends,’ she warned me. I was so disturbed by this and I was discussing it with my friend Mrs. Chani Morosow who joined me in researching for a solution; it was then that we discovered M.U.S.T. We didn’t even know at that point that it was an organization started by frum women.”

Mrs. Schechter teamed up with a group of passionate and motivated mothers, including all the women mentioned above, to create the MUST Crown Heights branch. They hosted events to create awareness, signed up class ambassadors, and spread the word whenever they could.

“It’s imperative to begin at a young age, even in kindergarten, before any of the students have phones or tablets. By the time my daughter was in eighth grade, 70% of her class already had phones. By the next year, she would be maybe one of ten girls in a grade of over 100 students to be without a phone. The sooner a class starts, the more potential it has to succeed,” she urges.

Amazingly, in the four years since the program hit the Chabad community, thousands of classes have joined. Hundreds of mothers have dedicated their time to become class ambassadors and the classes involved have been met with great success. In last year’s Zoom event alone, over 1,000 participants joined.

“It was such a relief when a mother in my daughter’s class reached out to us all about the program,” shares one mother from LA who asked to be anonymous. “It was always a niggling concern in the back of my mind and when our class mothers met up and signed the pact, it was like a huge weight was lifted off my chest. It has now been four years of our class signing not to give our children phones, and now, in the eighth grade, I am proud to say, not one child in my daughter’s class has a phone or smartwatch.”

One of the biggest challenges the organization faces is keeping up the momentum. After an event, people are fired up and ready to take action, but within two weeks, habits kick in and the topic mostly falls to the wayside. Therefore, it is so important to immediately take action; for mothers to step up and be the class ambassador in their kids’ classes.

“It’s something that all mothers want and something that literally saves lives, it’s just a matter of taking the initiative and setting the tone,” explains one class ambassador. “M.U.S.T. prepares everything for you- down to the template of the WhatsApp message to send out to your child’s class group chat to start the program in his or her class. Don’t hesitate to get involved, even with your five-year-old’s class.”

Any school and any mother can get involved in creating a group for your child’s class. To become a class ambassador, and to sign up your child’s class you can visit With one simple choice, you can improve your children’s lives immensely. Get involved today.

Highlighting Our Own is an column that highlights our community’s wonderful initiatives and projects.

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  1. A very important point is missing.

    1) As long as the (adult) culture is smart phones, smart phones and more smart phones, that is what the children will aspire to. Change needs to happen from the top.

    2) there is nothing wrong with phones that aren’t smart phones. A flip phone is good for safety and promotes VERBAL communication which is an area which is lacking of late (texting, whatsapp, etc)

      1. Way too much gets texted. So much should not be in writing.
        Verbal communication is really much better for so many things. In so many ways.

    1. The reality is that most flip phones nowadays can do many things that smartphones can – surf the web, watch youtube, whatsapp etc. etc..
      It’s wrong to say “it’s a flip phone, it’s ok”. Even with flip phones we have to be extremely careful.

  2. Why is such an important program run by individual women? Why aren’t Rabbonim stepping up, Like an every other community

    1. Having this run by women/ mothers as an extra / volunteer thing makes it too weak.
      In so many other communities the dangers of technology and it’s overuse are mentioned early and often and repeated again and again and again.

      What’s more, the culture actually supports it.

      Try to imagine for a second having your child in any Lubavitch Institution at any age without easy access to your smartphone constantly. Whatsapp, email, etc.

      The truth is, it’s not even that hard. Anything timely can really really be sent by text which every single phone on the market supports.

      When we’ve really had enough and are really fed up, that’s when there will be change.

      1. it started right now, this is the stage where people are fed up! that’s why it’s individuals running it, cuz it’s the start of a major grassroots movement.

        Why can’t we be like every other community including Anash in Eretz Hakodesh that all have rules and regulations (in a good way)?? why does my son or daughter have to go with other “frum” kids that watch youtube and movies?

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