For the week ending 20 March 2004 / 27 Adar I 5764

The Two-Headed Creature

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: About half a year ago you dealt in this column with the issue of cell-phones. Can you offer some guidelines on how to properly use this very useful and sometimes very disturbing instrument?

Answer: No one can question the value of these instruments of communication for some people. But this instrument is a two-headed creature in more ways than one. In our last discussion on this subject we focused on the failure of people to turn off their cell-phones when they are in public places which insist on their doing so. We also discussed the insensitivity of people carrying on loud conversations that disturb fellow passengers on public vehicles. There are, however, other dangers in cell-phones which caring parents should be aware of.

Many cell-phones in use today provide access to so-called information and entertainment material which hardly any parent would wish his child to be exposed to. As a result the control which parents try to maintain in the home is lost.

Speaking of control it was once assumed that parents could somehow supervise with whom their son or daughter is in contact by knowing that phone calls made to them would be made to their home. There are, unfortunately, some unsavory people who exploit the cell-phone revolution for developing relationships unknown to parents and unwelcome to them.

Parents who give their children a cell-phone so that they can always "be close to home" should take the necessary precautions to prevent this two-headed creature from pulling them away from home

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