Believing that modern technology can be harnessed to create an atmosphere imbedded with holiness and beneficent human values, Chabad-Lubavitch schools, aided by the Judaism website Chabad.org, are working diligently to ensure that cyberspace continues to be a safe place for their students and teaching staff.

“Of all of the mainstream Jewish organizations, Chabad has been one of the most active in trying to deal with the onslaught of technology over the past several years,” says technology expert and TechAware founder Philip M. Rosenthal, who has trained members of the FBI, the Israel National Police, New Scotland Yard, and local law enforcement in various Internet-related cases and crimes.

“Chabad.org is great at using the Internet in a positive way,” echoes Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, founder and medical director emeritus of Gateway Rehabilitation Center, an alcohol and drug dependence treatment center in Monroeville, Pa., and the best-selling author of Addictive Thinking. “We normally focus just on the positive and try to ignore the negative. However, it is very important that Chabad.org has done something to also shed light on the dangers.”

Chabad.org – with 1.55 million unique visitors per month, the site is a leading source of information and inspiration to the Jewish world – has released a series of lectures by Rosenthal warning people of technology’s potential perils and pitfalls, from cyber-bullying to adult content to Internet stalking. The Internet safety videos are also available on the web sites of 1,300 local Chabad affiliates.

“It’s not enough to show the world how to use the Internet the right way,” adds Rabbi Shais Taub, the Pittsburgh-based creative director of Chabad.org’s multimedia portal, Judaism.TV, and author of God of Our Understanding: Jewish Spirituality and Recovery from Addiction. “We also have to show the world how to not use the Internet in the wrong way.”

While concern over the Internet’s dark side is nothing new – for years now, Internet scandals and horror stories have generated newspaper headlines and talk show segments – organizations are constantly looking for new ways to curtail its dangerous effects on children and adults. Since January of this year, Rosenthal has conducted classroom presentations on Internet safety at a plethora of Jewish day schools, including the Chabad-Lubavitch run Bais Rivka in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y.

While many groups have enacted a single-pronged effort to ban cell phones and the Internet in schools, summer camps and other kid-friendly environments, Taub credits his peers with embracing these technologies in a safe and appropriate manner.

“Not only does the work Chabad is doing point out the perils of the Internet,” says Taub, “but gives specific instruction on how to avoid its misuse and conversely utilize it in a constructive manner.”

Rosenthal advises parents to keep computers in high-traffic areas of the home and install content filters and monitoring software to prevent minors from accessing inappropriate online sites.

“No one wants their eight-year-old to see the things that they can see with the push of one button,” he tells students and teachers. (Rosenthal also conducts special workshops for Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries around the world whose children are enrolled in online schools where the Internet is used as the primary educational tool.)

To monitor cell phone usage, Rosenthal suggests regularly perusing billing statements to determine how much texting is occurring and at what hours.

“If your 14 year old is texting at 3 am, then you need to start taking some action,” he advises. “Putting your kids’ cell phones in your bedroom at night to charge is one way of alleviating the chance of them staying up all night texting.”

Internet addiction, he warns, is steadily on the rise.

“If you use the Internet or a cell phone or your family does, then you are at risk for one of the toughest addictions in the world,” Rosenthal points out. “Technology addictions are more severe than drugs or alcohol. One of the main reasons for that is because most everyone considers technology benign. Indeed it is anything but that.”

To view the full series by TechAware founder Philip M. Rosenthal, click here.