The Potential and Risks of Internet Use as Permitted by Jewish Law Case Study: Internet Use by Students of a Religious High School – by Default or by Choice?


Source: Journal of Education and e-Learning Research, Vol 5, No 2 Page: 96-101 


Google is celebrating its 20th anniversary – and the internet has become an inseparable part of the lives of adults, teens, and children. In awareness of the problems and challenges posed by the new world, various software programs have been developed, among them NetSpark (henceforth: the program), which make it possible to block and/or filter information received from the web (Wells and Lewis, 2006). In several Israeli schools, the management has decided to install a filter in their students' cellular devices in order to maintain safe surfing even after school hours. The option of blocking or filtering websites on school computers existed previously, but the innovation offered by the current program is the possibility of screening inappropriate content on students' smartphones. The study examined the association between installing the program on smartphones and utilization of leisure time among 120 female high school students, half of whom used the program. The association between use of the program and the students' sociodemographic background, smartphone use patterns, and utilization of leisure time was examined.

Research findings show no difference between those who use the program and those who don't in the association between use of smartphone apps and internet surfing, utilization of leisure time, duration of internet use, and duration of cellular phone use. However, use of cellphone apps was higher among respondents who ranked themselves less religious than among respondents who ranked themselves more religious. The significance of the findings for parents and educators is that internet use is an issue that requires attention among students in religious high schools as well. The question is whether supervision should be imposed through the use of filters or should youngsters be taught how to cope with the global world.

The purpose of the current study was to examine whether there is an association between installing on students' smartphones a program blocking internet access and utilization of their leisure time. The research findings show no significant association between the installation of an internet blocking program and use of cellular applications and utilization of leisure time among students who used or did not use the program, nor was a difference between respondents found on these variables by their self-reported religiosity.

The research findings illuminate the subject of internet use and utilization of leisure time. Evidently, although most of the hypotheses were found insignificant, higher use of cellular applications was found among respondents with low religiosity than among respondents with high religiosity. This shows that less religious respondents make greater use of their smartphones, spend more time online, and devote more time to this than students who reported being more religious. Religiosity may have a certain effect on respondents’ choice to invest more or less time in use of their smartphones

The significance of the finding for teachers and educators who seek to use some external program to block internet, even among this special sector, is that internet use must be dealt with through other means. The research findings raise doubts as to the ability to supervise by means of blocking and raise thoughts on the need to teach students skills for coping in the digital world. The religious school system must adapt religious life to the changing world in the field of leisure as well, even though the penetration of modern values into the religious world arouses a sense of "discomfort" in the religious school system.

Updated: Jun. 13, 2018