Recently my wife and I have had conversations about the dominance and the proper role technology should have in our lives and in the life of our kids. I then came across a 2010 interview with Steve Jobs. I was shocked to say the least.
When Steve Jobs was running Apple, he was known to call journalists to either pat them on the back for a recent article or, more often than not, explain how they got it wrong. I was on the receiving end of a few of those calls. But nothing shocked me more than something Mr. Jobs said to me in late 2010 after he had finished chewing me out for something I had written about an iPad shortcoming.
“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “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.
Nick Bilton of the Times goes on to say this is common among America’s High Tech elite. Here is the link for the whole article.
As a parent it is very easy to allow screens to raise our kids. What gave me pause is that if anyone could see the benefits of technology Jobs could. He was so persuasive in the benefits of his devices that I’m sure Bill Gates owned a few iPads. What is concerning to me is that someone who knows what is possible with an iPad chose to keep his kids on a very short technology leash.
The article go on to describe how a typical dinner at the Jobs house was around a table with discussion around history, philosophy and literature rather than apps, games and music. Our job as parents is to help nurture our kids sense of possibility. To tap into what could be that comes from seeing what has been and what is. Technology is amazing but must have a limited hold our our kid’s imagination. You can not create something new if you are consumed by things as they are.
How do you limit your kids time on digital devices?
1. Set a timer.
2. Allow your kids to earn time. – It the summer our kids can only play on screens for the same length of time they have spent time reading.
3. Make sure your kids are in a common place when on mobile devices so you can monitor their activity.
4. Actively provide other things for your kids to do that engage them in creative production rather than simply passive consumption.