This past month, August 2018, an image from a newspaper clipping has been circulating on social media, professing a limited use of technology for kids, advocated by the top tech giants in the industry.
The image, entitled “Tech Billionaire Parenting” is a portion of a quote revealing Bill and Melinda Gates’ (of Microsoft) children don’t have smart phones and only use the computer in the kitchen, Mark Zuckerberg (of Facebook) wants his daughter to play outside instead of using Facebook’s Messenger Kids and Steve Jobs (of Apple) limited technology use in his own home.
WebSafety loves this article from Snopes.com, “Did Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Other Tech Billionaire Parents Advocate Limiting Children’s Technology Use?” that goes in depth behind the popular quote and image. They claim the facts in this quote are definitely TRUE and found the original sources of information to back up the claims.
The quote above is a slightly paraphrased version of an article written by Alice Thompson for The Times of London in March 2018, “Help Kids to Kick Social Media Addiction”.
The philanthropist Melinda Gates told me the same. Her children don’t have smartphones and only use a computer in the kitchen. Her husband Bill, the Microsoft co-founder, spends hours in his office reading books while everyone else is refreshing their homepage. The most sought-after private school in Silicon Valley, the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, bans technical devices for the under-11s and teaches the children of eBay, Apple, Uber and Google staff to make go-karts, knit and cook. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg wants his daughters to read Dr Seuss books and play outside rather than use Messenger Kids. Steve Jobs’s children had strict limits on how much technology they used at home.
It’s astonishing if you think about it: the more money you make out of the tech industry, the more you appear to shield your family from its effects.
Here are the words from the tech giants themselves:
Bill and Melinda Gates
The Mirror, June 2018
We often set a time after which there is no screen time and in their case that helps them get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
You’re always looking at how it can be used in a great way – homework and staying in touch with friends – and also where it has gotten to excess.
We don’t have cellphones at the table when we are having a meal, we didn’t give our kids cellphones until they were 14 and they complained other kids got them earlier.
- Bill Gates
Washington Post, August 2017
Still, as a mother who wants to make sure her children are safe and happy, I worry. And I think back to how I might have done things differently. Parents should decide for themselves what works for their family, but I probably would have waited longer before putting a computer in my children’s pockets. Phones and apps aren’t good or bad by themselves, but for adolescents who don’t yet have the emotional tools to navigate life’s complications and confusions, they can exacerbate the difficulties of growing up: learning how to be kind, coping with feelings of exclusion, taking advantage of freedom while exercising self-control. It’s more important than ever to teach empathy from the very beginning, because our kids are going to need it.
- Melinda Gates
New York Times, September 2014
[N]othing 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
Letter to daughter, August 2017
But rather than write about growing up, we want to talk about childhood. The world can be a serious place. That’s why it’s important to make time to go outside and play.
You will be busy when you’re older, so I hope you take time to smell all the flowers and put all the leaves you want in your bucket now. I hope you read your favorite Dr. Seuss books so many times you start inventing your own stories about the Vipper of Vipp. I hope you ride the carousel with Max until you’ve tamed every color horse. I hope you run as many laps around our living room and yard as you want. And then I hope you take a lot of naps. I hope you’re a great sleeper. And I hope even in your dreams you can feel how much we love you.
Emphasis added to quotes. To read the entire Snopes.com article and read more details about the Waldorf school and Silicon Valley’s education efforts, click here.