Steve Jobs is a name which is synonymous with cutting edge, innovative and groundbreaking technology. So it may come as something as a surprise to learn Apple’s former CEO didn’t believe in letting his kids use some of his company’s greatest products – the iPhone and the iPad.
Jobs, who died in 2011, may have had an instinctive flair for technology but he was a low tech parent who firmly believed in restricting his children’s access to electronic devices. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” said Jobs way back in 2010, expressing growing concerns about his children’s gadget use.
As all modern parents know, iPhones and iPads are extremely appealing to children. These little hand-held devices are state-of-the-art toys. Surrogate parents almost, capable of entertaining, distracting, and pacifying children during school holidays and on long car journeys when mom and dad’s attentions are focused elsewhere.
Yet instead of thanking Apple for these extremely convenient parent assistants, should we actually be concerned about the potential harm they may be inflicting upon our youngsters?
Steve Jobs certainly appeared to think so. In a New York Times article published this week, journalist Nick Bilton recalls how he once put it to Jobs that his kids must love the iPod, but to his surprise Jobs replied, “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
“I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow. Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.”
And Jobs wasn’t the only technological guru who had substantial concerns about the long-term effects of kids engaging with touch-screen technology for hours on end. Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired, also believes in setting strict time limits and parental controls on every device at home.
“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists. They say that none of their friends have the same rules. That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology first hand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”
Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles recently published a study which demonstrated that just a few days after abstaining from using electronic gadgets, children’s social skills improved immediately.
Which is definitely food for thought considering recent research showed that an average American child spends more than seven and a half hours a day using smart-phones and other electronic screens.
Jobs was undoubtedly a genius but he didn’t get that way through staring at screens and playing Angry Birds until the early hours or constantly updating his Facebook account.
Walter Isaacson, the author of Steve Jobs, spent a lot of time at the Apple co-founder’s home and confirmed that face-to-face family interaction always came before screentime for Jobs.
“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things. No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”
So the next time the advertising department at Apple, Samsung, or any other major technological corporation attempt to sublimely convince you that life is somehow lacking without their latest little device, remember that the man who started it all, believed somewhat differently.
What to Do?
Advice from Drs. Bill and Ginger Bercaw:
What NOT to Do?
MPP Expert Resources:
- Planning a “Screen-time Cleanse” with your kids? [INSERT LINK]