(Photo/Adobe Express Stock)
(Photo/Adobe Express Stock)

Israeli, U.S. parents urged to monitor children’s apps for disturbing content

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(JTA) — A number of Israeli and American Jewish schools are urging parents to limit their children’s access to social media apps, such as TikTok and Instagram, due to concerns of increasingly graphic content that may be shared from Israel and Gaza.

David Lange, who lives in Israel and runs the Israeli advocacy group Israellycool, posted a screenshot of a message from his daughter’s school shared through a WhatsApp group that warned that Hamas may soon begin sharing hostage videos of the Israelis and Americans they have captured and urged parents to delete TikTok from their children’s phones.

RELATED: Disinformation on Israel-Gaza plagues social media

It was not clear where the information about forthcoming hostage videos was coming from. But videos showing pleas, violence and even killings are a common tactic by terrorist groups that take hostages. Israel says about 150 of its citizens are being held hostage, including women, children and the elderly. Hamas has warned that it would execute hostages in response to strikes in Gaza, the Palestinian territory it controls.

Jewish schools across the United States soon began echoing the warnings. The Frisch School, a Modern Orthodox school in Paramus, New Jersey, sent a similar message to its community, also warning of possible hostage videos.

“Local psychologists have reached out to us and informed us that the Israeli government is urging parents to tell their children to delete Instagram and Tik Tok immediately,” read an email sent to the school Tuesday morning from its principal, Rabbi Eli Ciner. “We strongly advise our students to do the same as soon as possible.”

The Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn also urged parents to consider limiting their children’s access to social media.

“While we understand that we cannot fully prevent our students from viewing images that might appear on their phones, we strongly encourage parents to cultivate honest and open communication with your children about this possibility, monitor their social media usage, and discuss how to avoid opening these videos and what to do should they encounter such media,” read an email Tuesday afternoon from head of school Nicole Nash. “We also ask that parents strongly consider asking their children to delete these apps, at least for the time being.”

Even without hostage videos appearing on TikTok, social media has been flooded with graphic and disturbing images and videos since shortly after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Saturday, killing more than 1,000 people, including many Americans, and wounding thousands more.

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Jacob Gurvis
Jacob Gurvis

Jacob Gurvis is JTA’s Audience Engagement Editor, based in Los Angeles. He graduated from Boston University, where he studied journalism, Jewish studies, and political science. Jacob has written for The Boston Globe and The Beverly Hills Courier, and he produced an award-winning sports talk show in college. He spends too much time on Twitter @jacobgurvis.