When a new iPhone, iPad, Android, extra cool website, or app debuts, many of us, right along with our kids, can’t wait to indulge. One only has to observe homes, schools, shopping malls, athletic events, or even carpool lines (both parents and kids) to see the extent of our devotion to digital devices — sometimes in lieu of face-to-face interaction.
So what surprised me about a New York Times article Steve Jobs Was a Low Tech Parent was that at the height of the early iPad onslaught, Steve Jobs did not give one to his kids. The September 10, 2014 article, by technology reporter Nick Bilton, points out that Jobs was not alone. Many tech executives, it turns out, are conservative about the amount of time their children have access to digital activities and gadgets. Many of these digital world leaders, Bilton writes,: “…strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends.” Others, the reporter points out, don’t even let their children have social media accounts. So it’s interesting how the advertising, the hype, and the splashy promotions — all created by technology companies (and their leaders) and encouraging the rest of us to make those purchases and generously open the digital access gates for ourselves and our children — do not affect the parenting decisions in the homes of these tech leaders. This is a fascinating article, one that will be worthwhile reading in a school’s digital parenting activity or book club. It may lead to some thought-provoking conversations about decision-making when it comes to digital kids’ device access and use.