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Fall 2015: Questions

For the foreword to this issue, click here.

New technologies have altered our world forever.

  • The new connectivity has changed communication irreversibly on all levels, whether personal or professional, and has redefined community.
  • The information revolution has transformed commerce, education and research.
  • Sophisticated and dazzling new tools have created new horizons in science, industry and entertainment.

All of this has introduced incredible opportunities and advantages.  At the same time, simple observation and a growing body of research indicate other, less-positive results of these developments – among both children and adults – in areas including personal and communal social dynamics (such as loneliness and isolation), emotional health (such as compulsivity and depression), and education and productivity (such as distractibility and diminution of certain skills).  And then there are the spiritual challenges – inappropriate content of many kinds, effects on identity and affiliations and the time and attention diverted from meaningful pursuits.

In this issue of Klal Perspectives, we wish to address how we – as a community and as individuals – can harness the incredibly positive contributions that technology makes available to us, while avoiding or overcoming its pitfalls.  We are turning to rabbis, educators, and individuals in a wide range of disciplines, including researchers and practitioners from the fields of social science, business, education, science, medicine and mental health, to share their observations on the benefits and challenges of technology.  Ultimately, we would like this issue to produce a list of “best practices” for individuals, families, schools and communities to adopt in their engagement with technology.

Specifically, we are asking each of our contributors to address the following questions:

  1. What have you observed to be the advantages provided to your clientele by the prevalent accessibility of technology?
  2. What have you observed to be the challenges posed to your clientele by the prevalent accessibility of technology?
  3. What is your assessment of the cost-benefit ratio of the use of technology within our community?  Stated differently, if an individual, family or community could effectively limit or even eliminate the common, casual use of technology, would that be a worthy choice?
  4. Can you proffer examples of the effective and positive use of technology to advance the personal and communal goals of the Orthodox community?
  5. What are your observations about how thoughtful and deliberate people have been in embracing or limiting their own use of technology, or the use of technology by their children?
  6. What have you observed to be the benefits and harms of efforts to limit the use of technology on a communal or personal level?  What approaches, if any, have been successful in restricting the intrusion of technology?  What efforts have you employed, or have you seen employed by others, to introduce and explain better practices in the use of technology?
  7. Share specific “best practices” you have found or observed to be effective.

To read the Responses, click here.