Steve Jobs Opposed Children using iPads (at least his children)

by Matt Klassen on September 19, 2014

I’m sure many of us picture the lives of the technocratic elite as being filled with the gadgets we crave; touchscreens on every wall and iPads around every corner, but as New York Times journalist Nick Bilton explains, such is often not the case. In fact, the at-home reality for those who have imagined and created our favourite mobile devices is often rather plain, an unadorned existence largely devoid of the very products they hock to the masses on a regular basis.

It was a discovery Bilton first made during a 2010 interview with Apple visionary Steve Jobs, an offhand comment about the technological reality of the Jobs’ family that revealed volumes about the parenting choices of those who create the products we love, and about the impact of those products on our kids.  “So, your kids must love the iPad?” [Bilton] asked Mr. Jobs during a 2010 interview, just as the company’s first tablet was just hitting store shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he replied. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

But why would the creator of some of the world’s favourite mobile gadgets be hesitant to offer those devices to his kids, particularly in the world where many parents are perfectly content to let their kids bask endlessly in the glow of tablets, smartphones, and computers? The answer, because no one knows the dangers of technology and children better than those who make the devices we love, meaning perhaps we should take heed not to what the technocratic elite say about our favourite mobile gadgets, but to what they actually do with them.

Simply put, it seems tech CEO’s know something the rest of us don’t, that there are actual dangers to giving your children that mobile babysitter. As Bilton notes, Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired and now CEO of 3D Robotics, a drone maker, has reportedly instituted seemingly draconian limits and controls over this children’s use of technology. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” he said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself; I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

The dangers both men implicitly recognize include exposure to overtly harmful content like pornography–I think many of us would be surprised (and likely horrified) at the things kids are able to access with a few clicks of a button. It’s depravity on an entirely new scale–and the disturbing reality of online bullying from other kids, particularly through social networks; forums parents often naively think are safe for their children to use.

Finally, and I would add most importantly, the technological elite recognize the reality of technological addiction, the greatest threat to kids, particularly those not old enough to access the Web by themselves. While those apps and games are a great way to keep your kids quiet and entertained, they have been shown to have a detrimental impact on your child’s development, altering the way they think and react to the world.

As Bilton explains regarding the parenting of many of the technological elite, “Children under 10 seem to be most susceptible to becoming addicted, so these parents draw the line at not allowing any gadgets during the week. On weekends, there are limits of 30 minutes to two hours on iPad and smartphone use. And 10- to 14-year-olds are allowed to use computers on school nights, but only for homework.”

While the details of the technological restrictions vary, the one common theme Bilton did find during his poll of the upper echelons of the technology world is this: No screens in the bedroom. It’s difficult to understate the negative impact of allowing your kids to have a TV, consoles, computer, or mobile device in their bedroom, as the lack of supervision and the unfettered accessibility provides the perfect recipe for technological addiction.

Of course in this technological world a balance needs to be struck, as we don’t want our children becoming either technological hermits, completely disconnected from the entire technological world, or rebellious mobile monsters, that is, those who access technology without the proper education or awareness, so ultimately what parents need to do is educate themselves about the dangers of technology, and finally, to set limits on their child’s exposure to technology. Your kids won’t like it, I’m sure, but they’ll be better off for it.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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