Cell phones and free choice

השעון המעורר של משפחת נווה
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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

"Shalom Sivan, his it's Avi Naveh from Ma'alot (in Upper Galilee). I am an educator and - as much as it's a cliche to admit - my work at school is easy compared to my work at home. We are at the height of summer vacation and we have reached the conclusion that our two biggest challenges revolve around digital devices: excessive use of cell phones on the one hand and difficulty waking up in the morning on the other. And, of course, the two are connected. When the kids are glued to their screens until the middle of the night, the result is that every morning I try in vain to wake them up, shouting and trudging up the stairs numerous times, while providing wake-up service to the entire neighborhood in the process. The daily rhythm is sabotaged as night becomes day and day becomes night. This is both wearying and depressing.

But I am writing to tell you that my wife and I have found a solution to this problem. In this week's Torah portion, it says, 'Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse.' (Deuteronomy 11:26) In other words, there is free choice in life. Especially when it comes to parenting, I think it is forbidden to accept the status quo and absolutely necessary to take initiative. So we bought simple alarm clocks and decided that at 10:30 at night when the alarms went off we would all put our cell phones in a box. Everyone. The older kids were in shock that even their parents would adopt the new protocol. And that was it.

And what has happened since? Everyone sleeps at night and gets up during the day. The teenager, for example, gets up early in the morning, makes himself coffee, and goes to pray Shacharit. I am only anticipating a complaint from the neighbors that their wake-up service has been canceled. And what happens at night? More time for reading, for face-to-face conversations, and for other matters that seemed to have vanished from our world. During the first days of this new regime, I left a computer on in order to see WhatsApp messages there, but this too is now dimming out. It's just a lot more fun at home now.

What have we learned from this? To think creatively (and sometimes being creative is quite simple: a box for the cell phones and some alarm clocks), to serve as a personal example ourselves instead of just asking the kids to do this or that, and to believe that it's possible to change".

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