The Matzav Shmoooze: A Concerned Mom


iphoneDear readers,

I was very surprised to learn from my son, a ninth grader, that at least five boys in his class have cell phones. Obviously, I don’t know what “have” means, but I do know, based on my son, that while their school obviously has a policy against bringing phones to school, these cell phones are showing up in school. One of the phones is an iPhone, with, what I am told, unfettered internet access. Another boy has an iPod Touch, which I believe can also access the internet. At least three other boys have phones, though they don’t bring them to school. It seems that they are allowed to have them when they are home, and when they are with their friends, including my son, outside of school. One of those phones has internet access.

[I would have never known, except that my son slipped and made a comment about something over Pesach, and he admitted that he knew about this detail from his friend’s phone. I then managed to get the above info from him. There is no way he would have otherwise just offered the information.]

I have internet in my home, properly filtered. I am open-minded and tolerant, but somehow I see what is going on in my son’s class as very disturbing. I need not be specific about the dangers it presents. My question is how to deal with this. For personal reasons and for my son’s good, my husband and I cannot contact his rebbi or the principal. But I am very, very concerned about what is going on, what my son and the other boys may have been exposed to, and where this could lead.

Maybe I am overreacting. Maybe I am just an over-worried mom. Your advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

A Concerned Mother


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to

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  1. You are definitely correct in being concerned. The problem is that it’s not a surprised, this is the way it is. Welcome (albeit unhappily) to reality! The question is what can be done about it? I have no idea.

  2. To A Concered Mother:
    You are definitely right about being concerened.
    For your son’s welfare & the welfare of his friends YOU CANNOT REMAIN QUIET!
    Contact your Rov or any distinguished reliable person and have them take care of this DANGEROUS SITUATION without divulging their source.
    BiVrocho veHatzlocho.

  3. Let me tell as a rebbe of teenage boys that you are not over reacting one bit … your son is in grave danger and you must act before its too late . It’s a very very quick and slippery slope … I would write more but don’t want to come across as an alarmist but speak to the hundreds of parents who have lost their sons with exact same story

  4. Yes, tell the yeshiva. Yes, get the phones out of the class. But keep up a REALLY GOOD relationship with your son because that’s the best thing you can do to help get him through his teenage years no matter what the dangers. Talk and talk and talk and…

  5. when Reb Aharon Leib Shteinmen was here in the US last, he talked with a large group of Mechanchim and told them “you can not assur it, they all have them in their pockets”. He went on saying that we need to infuse the concept of Kedusha to the talmeidim, talk to them about it and hope it resenates.
    We know it is a reality, right or wrong, we need to teach our children from the positive perspective and daven….

  6. You are 100% right to be concerned. PLEASE send an anonymous letter to your son’s Rebbe and Menahel ASAP. This is a matter of Pikuach Nefashos, both for the children with these devices, and for their friends who might use them as well. Unfiltered devices are not safe for married adults – Kal vaChomer ben beno shel Kal vaChomer for unmarried children.

    Parents make tremendous sacrifices to educate their children al Taharas HaKodesh, only to have their efforts thwarted by the lack of awareness of the very real dangers that are only a click away.

    I urge every parent to read the booklet “Prevention Tips for Parents” by the Guard Your Eyes organization, available at this link:

  7. To add,
    I dont tthink Reb Aharon Leib would recommend to parents that it is ok for their children to have cell phones in yeshiva or to allow full internet access on the childrens cell phones

  8. #3-

    It doesn’t sound like the parents of those kids have any problem with what their sons have. It’s not ideal, but that is how it is nowadays. The options are either to pretend that no kids have these things – which is not true in 6th grade anymore, and certainly not in high school – or to have an open relationship with one’s kids, so that hopefully the parents will at least have some idea of where their kid is holding and how to deal with him/her. It’s just not realistic, in most of our communities, to assume that our kids will not have any friends or classmates with access to things we don’t want ours to. It’s not a good thing in the slightest, but unfortunately, that’s the current situation.

  9. To Concened Mom. What are you gaining by writing this letter to Matzav. You should think of a way to contact your sons school. If it was my son and truly concerned that’s what I would do?

  10. Dear Mom,

    You forgot the STRONG possibilty that the source of your son’s ‘internet’ info may very well be YOUR “properly filtered” internet.
    Your son would never admit to it because if he did he would loose his internet source.
    So, if your don’t want your son to have access to the internet, at ALL COSTS, you better get rid of YOUR “properly filtered” internet.
    Ask any rov or mechanech who is involved in this field and see what thay say.

  11. A responsible parent would have put a filter (like your computer at home) on the IPhone or Ipod Touch. K9 has a very good filter for these devices which locks the Safari browser and only lets you browse the internet via the K9 app. So maybe just a little Dan Lekav Zechus (sorry for the spelling) is in order for this case.

  12. i also teach in a high school that faces these same challenges. fist of all hopefully your sons yeshiva is tuned in & aware of the dangers of internet.i can say that i have witnessed kids that have left the yeshiva and are on the streets and it started with internet exposure. in my humble opinion you should find out somehow who the kids are and tell the yeshiva IT IS PIKUACH NEFOSHOS. if you cant find or the yeshiva refuses to acknowledge you should try to convince your son to switch yeshivos.

  13. There is definitely reason to be concerned. I recently heard of a story (I can’t confirm whether or not it’s true)of some boys waitng for rides home afther a classmate’s bar mitzvah, who were shown awful pictures on one of the boys’ phones. The images in these boys’ minds can’t be erased. It’s a scary world out there.

  14. Well written letter! You are right! It is a tornado out there and our kids ill get swallowed up if people dont wake up

  15. We are talking about Pikuach Nefesh literally. If whatever this reason why you can not be the one to tell RUN to someone who can NOW. It is your son’s life you are playing with.

  16. There is no such thing as staying quiet for the welfare of your son! For your sons welfare, you need to get a megaphone & stand in front of your sons school & scream about it until the yeshiva does something about it!

  17. I guess your signature is where it ends. You are CONCERNED. But that is where the problem arises. You need to be more than be concerned and DO SOMETHING. If for a any reason you can not reach your sons Yeshiva -which is understandable for many different possible reasons- make them aware of the problem somehow. See comment from concerned yid. Many problems can be taken care of when parents and the Yeshiva work together. While there may be different approaches and Hashem knows that many of us do not know the answer but we need to work together. As an insider in a Yeshiva I know that every phone call means something. Have someone else call, speak to the Rebbe via letter etc.
    The Chofetz Chaim was quoted (see Chofetz Chaim Al HaTorah- I do not remember exactly where) as saying “Mir muzzen tohn nisht uftohn”. Don’t just see your son eating chazer and say oy vey. This is a very real problem and unfortunately the school can not tackle this issue by itself. (L’moshol there is really no feasible way normally for a kid to have a phone without a parent knowing, so why isn’t under lock and key?)
    Unfortunately, parents may not percieve the danger of a phone, which in and of itself is a Peshia…
    To summarize, don’t just be concerned take the initiative. Feel an achrayus like #3 said to ask your Rav what to do. Feel an achrayus to somehow get a hand on the problem. I have unfortunately too many experiences with kids who got caught up with the trash etc. and the tragedies that followed. Take the initial steps now rather than face the consequences later.
    A pound of prevention…
    Sorry that I was so long but this grabs my heart as a major issue which is not being addressed thoroughly enough by both parents and the Yeshiva.
    Hatzlocha and keep on asking your son where he is etc…

  18. Three Jews, a Litvack, a Yekke and a Galitzianer were walking together on a path. They came upon a very high wall, which completely blocked their path. On the wall was a sign which read: “M’tur nisht gein ariber di vant.” The Yekke read the sign, turned around and went home. The Litvack, read the sign, exclaimed: “Gei Ich DAVKA ariber” and started to climb the wall. the Gelitzianer read the sign, laughed and said ” Oib m’tur nisht gein ariber, az gei Ich arunter” and dug a tunnel under the wall. The moral of the story as applied to this issue is that most people are not Yekkes.

  19. It would be ideal if you could get the general information to the principal/rebbe through a third party, without revealing the names. In, addition, your son will benefit from being complimented and built up for being one who doesn’t have a cellphone. Much nachas!

  20. As a parent, I suggest that you simply stay in touch with your son over this. I am sure that you (and more likely your husband) have been frank with your son about the areas of temptation that he will face in the next several years before (and after) he is married. Keep up the communication and give him all the tools he needs to make good choices. I think this is the most realistic avenue. These temptations will be there. You, and especially your husband, must be open, caring and do your best to share this path with him … and certainly not to react in a way that makes him feel he needs to begin hiding things from you. You say he is a good boy, so you have a lot on your side. Continue to daven and be sure your son knows that you daven for his success in learning and in resisting temptation.

    Perhaps you can also stay in touch with your son’s world, what his friends are accessing, by seeing if he knows the up-to-date baseball stats or whatever the kids are into that isn’t so problematic. Kids will be kids and adults who scream, yell and try to set up rules that are bound to fail, exacerbate the problems.

    If the school wanted this solved by not permitting these things, they would be confiscated already (and only returned to parents with strict warnings). If that isn’t happening, you need to proceed as level-headed and communicative (with your son) parents.

    Hatzlocha rabba!

  21. You should contact the princpel , the rov & the rebbe in the yeshivah they should tell consult you on how to deal with it

  22. The issue is not with your son rather it is with the Hanhala of his Yeshiva. They must realize that wih all their rules and policies bochurim and girls are bringing cell phones and ipods to yeshiva and the schools are not dealing with this issue head on,and ovrreact when it gets out of hand!

  23. I became exposed to the lowest of the low from borrowing my friends internet cell phone when I was in yeshiva. I became addicted to the trash and am very much worse off till this very day because of it.

    It is very sad how clueless many parents and educators are. And quite frankly the kids are always a step ahead of us and can bypass filters too.

  24. Unfortunately, you may well be one of the few parents that realizes just how much internet access MOST high school yeshiva boys have. Everything from their iPod Touches, through their portable gaming systems have theoretical internet access. Having a stam cell phone could potentially expose any kid to the web as well.

    These kids have access in one of three ways – (a) through a wireless carrier, (b) through wifi and (c) through a hardline connection.

    As parents, the #1 step is to make sure that the phones don’t have data plans. As you get the cellphone bill every month, it is your responsibility to ensure that the phone isn’t being used to access the internet through your wireless carrier. Depending on your carrier, you may also be able to block all data, which would block most internet access.

    WiFi is a local network that can be password protected, but often is left open to anyone to connect. Even if you don’t have WiFi at home, it is very possible that your neighbor’s wireless network reaches your home. You can password protect your network and ask your neighbors to do the same, though it is their right to deny your request as there is some work involved in the setup process. Please remember that even if you and your neighbors don’t offer unprotected WiFi, it is also very likely that there is a cafe, library, office or home in your neighborhood that has unprotected WiFi. If your kids want to access the internet and have a laptop, gaming device or iPod touch, they can find a way. I was once in a yeshiva where the elementary school office didn’t password protect their WiFi, and the beis medrash guys figured out how to get into the network from their dorms next door.

    Hardwired Network
    If you have a network in your home, make sure that your kids cannot access it (unless you want them to have that access). If you allow your kids to have a kids computer or laptop, it is pretty easy to plug it into the jack in the wall or add it to the wifi network. Pay attention.

    Your kids are likely more technologically savvy than you. EVERY yeshiva has kids with phones and internet access. There are a number of ways to restrict this, but if there is a will they can find a way. Every mechanech will tell you that communications is key. It’s harder to find the time to be a more actively engaged parent and have a stronger relationship built on trust, but it is far more effective than fighting a battle against the social norms that may surround your kids.

  25. You are 100% right to be worried. The iphones and other junk are entries into the world and of course we wouldn’t want that. Who knows he may even use the phone to find out about who knows what.

  26. this is not only going on in your sons class, its going on everywhere,and good kids are exposed to unfiltered internet..THE RESULTS CAN BE DEVASTATING .TELL THE MENAHEL OR A RAV OR SOMEONE ASAP. DONT BE AFRAID!!!!!

  27. #12,

    In cases of Pikuach Nefashos, it is not appropriate to be Dan Lekaf Zechus that everything is fine.

    To quote addiction therapist Philip Rosenthal, if you’re thinking of buying an iPod Touch [or other similar handheld Internet-accessible device] for your teenager, you may as well buy him a gun – he’s likely to do less damage.

  28. Phones are a reality that are here to stay.

    You should mention it to your son’s rebbe or menahel… and let your son know the dangers that are lurking in these phones.

  29. 29:

    I don’t blame you, because your still a teenager. But I believe that one day you will grow up and agree with the writer of the article.

  30. You need to contact the Menahel and get rid of the cell phones (or the perpetrators ). It is sakonas nefoshos for your son and others.

  31. It seems like few people got the mother’s point. She was talking about her son’s FRIENDS, not her son himself. I went to school, as many people did (in the 1970’s) in a frum school that was a complete mix of frum and non-frum families. People weren’t shocked that other families weren’t frum. It was a fact of life, and parents did their job to instill Torah values. In this case, why not let the other parents do their jobs, as well? Don’t we have enough to worry about raising our own teens, much less other ones?

  32. Quote [comment 13] “I can say that i have witnessed kids that have left the yeshiva and are on the streets and it started with internet exposure”
    I challenge you to find me such a case, when the teen had a healthy relationship with a parent or adult, who was 100% honest and frank with them about the dangers of the internet, and insisted that the teen has all their questions and “sfaykos” relating to temptations and physical maturity answered honestly.

  33. I think its normal for a kid to get a cell phone by 8th grade. Most kids do and if you dont trust your kid to get a cell phone by 9th grade you can never trust him with the internet.

  34. A kid should get a phone kid get a cell phone by 8th grade. Most kids do and if you dont trust your kid to get a cell phone by 9th grade you can never trust him with the internet.

  35. and if a kid does not have a phone by 9th grade the kids in his class think his parents are control freaks and their not allowed to do anything!!!!!!!!!!

  36. if you have internet in your house even if you have a filter chances are your kid already got around it, its easy trust me i know……..

  37. One thing you need to be aware of: If you contact the school, it may become known to the boys who it was who told his parents. Right or wrong, this will not make your son popular, to put it mildly. Or he may feel badly about “betraying” his friends and feel that he can no longer trust you.

    You need guidance from someone who is expert in teen and peer behavior. I would suggest contacting Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz (of Project Yes) through his website. He can give you thoughtful advice based on his extensive knowledge of teens, yeshivas and parent-child issues.

  38. You are mighty pompous!

    “I challenge you to find me… who was 100% honest…”

    I challenge you to find me any parent who is 100% anything! Some troubled teens have amongst the finest parents and some have the lax uninvolved parents. But to suggest that parents are always at fault…

    I hope G-d won’t judge you after 120 the way you judge others. But if he will, get used to warm weather!

  39. Sad but we are in Mityzrayim. Remember the Parshas of recent weeks???
    — Just as striking a child is counter-prductive in these times, so is expressing horror. If you have a mutually loving relationship, continue to build on it. If not, consult a Rav of the caliber of Rav Avigdor Miller and change your ways.

  40. To #36 Midwest Anon,
    Finally a voice of reason amidst the forest of babble. You grew up in a balanced tolerant atmosphere where judging the other was not the national sport. Unfortunately, we build an insulated wall of total intolerance for today’s generation. Then when someone inevitably makes a tiny hole in this wall, it comes crashing down. And it is inevitable.

  41. To #36,

    There is virtually nothing that can compete with the combination of teenage drive and unrestricted Internet. If the parents have a reasonably healthy relationship with their child, the latter may pretend to toe the line, but is at risk of not remaining a loyal Jew under the surface, as he keeps falling and falling again.

    For a testimonial to this effect, listen to Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski’s speech (the third of four speeches) at a parlor meeting for the Guard Your Eyes organization, available at this link:

    A good Internet filter, combined with monitoring software, will go a long way towards protecting our children, although they should not be viewed as a total solution.

  42. Teenkid, my boys had and have no cheshek for a phone. OTOH, their sisters got one by about 11th grade; suppose we could have got a second line and made them happy.

  43. 42 and 46

    My comment #36 should have been written with more sensitivity, The intention is not to point fingers at parents. Also i am not suggesting kids should have unrestricted access to internet, but the goal of the original comment is to help Klal Yisroel in the future and learn lessons from past. In perhaps more appropriate terms, “no one can deny that a healthy and honest relationship that a teen has with a parent or adult, will definitely assist the teen through the most challenging years of their life”

  44. You are absolutely right. My older brother is in sixth grade and quite a few kids in his class have cell phones.

  45. #11-you’re right: speaking from personal experience-it’s simple to get around filters… you better sit down and have a long talk with your son. also-i think something’s wrong wtih the fact that we’re (i said we!) always trying to control others, just so that our kids shouldn’t be different. I know of plenty of mothers, who, if they didn’t allow their child to go on a trip the school was planning, would call the school to complain about it… or so on. Parents are afraid to tell their children no, and are afraid their children will be “nerds” if they’re different than the other kids…
    Kids respect boundaries-they really do. They don’t place those boundaries on themselves… not until they’re older and have gone past the line… They need their parents to limit their access, to speak to about looking at friends’ phones, and so on…
    But of course, if there’s something in particular (not just that-kids in his class have phones) that you’re worried about, then you definitely should find a way to get that to the menahel, with the certainty that it will not be traced to you or your son, and that your son should not find out about this at all.
    Provided that he’s not using your “filtered” computer at home to get his “information.”
    A few people brought a link to guard your eyes: fantastic organization with lots to offer…
    Good luck!It’s a scary world out there!

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