Daddy said ‘Don’t touch’


Steve Jobs holding forbidden iPad

‘Tech Giants’ kids don’t play with iPads.’

All right. I promised never to rant in this blog. So I’ll try not to. Really. But I ran across this article in the New York Times and couldn’t keep myself from sharing and ranting (er, commenting) about it.

It’s titled ‘Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent’, and it’s by Nick Bilton.

It’s all about how people like Steve Jobs (you know who he was) and a bunch of other tech giants (Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired, for example) deal with the issue of children and the devices they desire.

Most of these people, CEOs and founders of companies like Twitter, the afore-mentioned Wired, and even Blogger — people who make their living in and around the use of personal technology — strictly limit the use of phones, tablets, and screens for their kids. Some don’t allow any devices for their children under the age of ten.

The older kids get devices, but with limits attached. Lesley Gold, founder and chief executive of the SutherlandGold Group, a tech media relations and analytics company, says in the article “We have a strict no screen time during the week rule for our kids, but you have to make allowances as they get older and need a computer for school.”

But each and every Techie Parent — at least the ones interviewed for the Times article — said they never, ever allow use of such devices in their children’s bedrooms. Veeery interesting (!)

These parents are concerned about the same issues as other parents face today: cyber-bullying, invasion of privacy, pornography. But they are also concerned about issues parents have faced since the invention of the telephone, television, and stereo system (remember records?): non-completion of homework and just plain frittering and goofing off.

So what do these technologically-aware parents do with their kids instead of handing them an iPad and letting them have a go?

They read books. They talk. As you’ll read in the Times article, Walter Isaacson, the author of Steve Jobs’ best-selling bio, said that Steve and his kids would spend time around the dinner table discussing history and politics and all sorts of topics. Without the aid of a single device.

Imagine that.

Easier said than done, I must say from personal experience. But well worth shooting for. I’m sure the parents among you must have your opinions. And you won’t all see eye to eye with Steve or the Times Guy, or even me. So let us have it.

Screens for kids? Yay or nay? Or somewhere in between?

p.s. If this isn’t enough techie ranting for you, take a peek at my previous post ‘What’s up with all the apps?’

New York City. September 2014

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5 thoughts on “Daddy said ‘Don’t touch’

  1. Elizabeth

    Additionally, the techies have it right I think because they are teaching their kids about moderation – not making screens/ devices forbidden fruit or, conversely , allowing unfettered access

    • Yes, Elizabeth. I neglected to bring that point up in my post, and it’s important. Anything forbidden just gets more interesting/exciting/desirable. One of the techies interviewed mentioned a kid at college with a roomfull of sodas because his parents forbade it. I’m gonna stick my neck out here (not really, because I think you’ll agree) and say that I think kids follow their parents’ example. If you read, they read. If you spend all your time touching a screen, then they’ll want to do that, too.

  2. Elizabeth

    I, too, saw that article and kept it. I agree with it. I think we are all missing a lot of life by being constantly plugged in

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