Question & Answer With Rabbi Lazer Brody - Video Games & DVDs
A Simple Jew asks:
Does Halacha forbid a child from playing computer games and watching DVDs?
Rabbi Lazer Brody answers:
Your question is timely and super-important, SJ. I'd like to split my answer into 2 parts: First the Halacha, and then the Hashkafa, Jewish outlook from an Israeli-Chassidic viewpoint.
In a decision from Adar, 5763 (March, 2003), Israel's leading poskim shlit'a – Rav Elyashiv, Rav Vosner, and Rav Nissim Karelitz – signed a joint psak (religious law decision) expressly forbidding the use of a computer for anything other than commerce or word processing, and specifically prohibiting the use of a computer for games and movies by adults and children alike. In addition to their sources in the Gemorra and Rishonim, they write: "Allowing a child to absorb himself in computer games turns his mind from Torah and his heart to idleness… this creates a drastic setback in a child's spirituality." As far as movies go, the Rabbeim cite Shulchan Oruch O.H. 307:15 that prohibits "war books" (adventure stories) because of tomfoolery, and the Magen Avraham (ibid, clause 22) that compares stadiums and circuses to those things that make a person's heart stray from Torah and mitzvoth. Citing an additional long list of poskim, they conclude that computer games and movies destroy Yiras Shamayim and the desire to lead Torah lives both in boys and in girls.
In every single case I ever handled of a boy or a girl that went off track, the parents were viewers of DVDs and/or the kids owned computer-game or watched DVDs themselves. Computer games and DVDs kill time and murder brain development. A passive brain – like a passive body – becomes flabby and lazy. You can't learn Gemorra with a flabby and lazy mind, so if your child is a computer game or DVD freak, forget about sending him to a Yeshiva; it's a miracle if he or she will remain Shomer Shabbos. Computer games/DVDs and Torah simply don't mix.
With blessings for a ksiva ve'chasima tova and a happy New Year 5757, Lazer Brody