Bay Area Jewish school encourages parents to limit social media for kids amid ongoing war

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Bay Area Jewish HS encourages parents to limit social media for kids
Jewish Community High School in San Francisco is encouraging parents to limit social media for their kids amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Fighting between Israel and Hamas continued to intensify on Tuesday. But as the war rages on on the ground, increasingly there's another battle happening - and it's online.

"Sunday and into the night early Monday - was just a firehose of information. Overwhelming under the best of circumstances, and these are not good circumstances," said Rabbi Howard Ruben.

Rabbi Ruben is the head of the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco.

He says since the war broke out several days ago, the amount of hate and vitriol being spread online has exploded.

His school even sent out an email to students' parents, urging them to protect their children from some of the harsh realities of war.

MORE: 5 things to know as Israel declares war on Hamas following militant group's unprecedented attack

In reads in part:

"There is a point at which graphic imagery is paralyzing or traumatizing. We recommend you talk with your teens about their social media usage and discuss whether or not it makes sense to delete, even temporarily, social media apps (such as TikTok and Instagram) to avoid inadvertent exposure to these graphic and potentially traumatic images."

The violent rhetoric online is sadly nothing new, says Grant Kien, a professor of communications at Cal State East Bay.

"The intensification of smear campaigns and misinformation happens in tandem with modern warfare," said Grant Kien.

Kien says in conflicts where emotions are extremely high, fake posts and videos are widespread.

"Always look at the source. Look at the source's source. If something seems a little bit off, then dig deeper," Kien said.

MORE: SF civic leader, business owner describes frightening scenes in Israel

Manny Yekutiel, the owner of Manny's in SF's Mission, spoke with ABC7 News from Israel. He was there visiting family when the Hamas attacks hit.

It's a view also shared by Thomas Plante - a psychologist at Santa Clara University.

Plante says while hatred online can impact anyone, those with connections to Israel and Gaza are at particular risk.

If you have a child in this situation, Plante recommends talking to them.

"Very broad strokes. And say, do you have questions about that? You know, what do you want to know about this? And to try your best to try and give that message that you're willing to talk to your children in a developmentally appropriate way," Plante said.

With the war showing no signs of ending any time soon though, Rabbi Ruben says he's worried the online battle will only continue to get worse.

"Nothing has been this grotesque in terms of its barbarism, in terms of its lack of humanity, and that's disturbing to absorb," Rabbi Ruben said.

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