Administrators at Tiferes Yisroel yeshiva in Flatbush are demanding that parents install a Web filtration system on their computers to restrict and monitor Internet behavior as a prerequisite for student enrollment, a daily paper first reported this week.
A letter circulated among parents insists that if parents cannot “avoid” having the Internet in their homes at all, then they must purchase a subscription to WebChaver, through which they choose a “chaver” — or friend — of their choice to receive e-mail updates with details about the family’s Internet usage.
“They really just want to monitor the parents,” one father told The New York Post. “I’m not paying $60 a year so they can monitor me. I don’t go to that school – my kids do.”
It is unclear whether the school intends to monitor the behaviors of children or of their parents or of both, based on the stories and blog posts circulating.
“One thing is certain about all teenagers,” said David Bryfman, director of the New Center for Collaborative Leadership of the Board of Jewish Education of New York, who has written about kids and Internet use. “If you want them to do something – ban it! The more inaccessible you make something for our increasingly savvy teens the more they will treat it as a challenge and try and circumvent any software that we might put in place – and eventually they will find a way.”
Bryfman said that other schools ban the Internet completely, which he opposes. “Cyberspace, virtual worlds and social networking have unlimited potential in educational settings that educators and educational institutions are only beginning to realize,” said Bryfman.
A call to the yeshiva for comment on Monday was not returned in time for publication.