Steve Jobs Limited His Kids’ Tech Use (& We Should Too)

Almost 40% of American 2-4 year-olds and over 50% of 5-8 year-olds have used an iPad, iPhone, or similar device.

That is a staggering number. Some claim that using these devices can augment a child’s learning when used properly, but is it not worrisome that our youngest generations are spending their precious hours of childhood on iPads and iPhones rather than outside in nature? Some of these kids actually own their own smartphones and tablets, which begets the question: what are the repercussions of allowing our children unfettered access or ownership of this immersive technology — technology, I might add, that most adults cannot handle without abusing/becoming addicted?

Steve Jobs reportedly didnít let his kids use the iPad. Let me repeat that. Steve Jobs, the creator of the iPad, did not let his children use it. In fact, his children had very limited use of technology at home. Why? Because he knew the potential of these devices to pose a threat to the development of innovation, creativity, and independence in our children. If anyone knew what these devices were capable of, good and bad, it was the brilliant Mr. Jobs.

With our overwhelming addictions to social media and instant information, it isnít farfetched to suggest that many adults would benefit from supervision on these devices. That being said, allowing our impressionable kids to use them may be robbing them of the precious life experiences that only childhood can offer. Instead of using their imaginations and playing “explorer” in the back yard, modern generations spend a disconcerting amount of time indoors — playing games, texting, and watching videos on their iDevices. By allowing our kids access to this immense, infinite technology, we are essentially encouraging our children to rip themselves out of reality and become apathetic to one-on-one social interaction. To witness a 10 year-old sitting in a corner on her iPhone while the sun beams down on some of her technology-free classmates playing in the grass outside is a sad sight…

Perhaps the most important thing we are losing with these devices is boredom. We need time to be bored and curious — both as children and adults. In its essence, that’s what learning is; it is a journey of curiosity not to be quelled by instant gratification. Being constantly stimulated by these magic little devices stifles the creativity, emotions, and passion that being human entails, especially in children. Do we really want to raise a generation of detached androids who never go out to stare at the twinkling starlight or who cannot identify the subtle shifts in the scent and crispness of early autumn air?

These advances in technology are terrific innovations and have undeniably propelled mankind ever forward. But, just as too much of a good thing can backfire — like the stomachache you get after your fourth indulgent slice of homemade apple pie — too much technology is significantly harmful. If Steve Jobs didnít condone technology use by his own children, perhaps we should stop and think about whatís happening to our new, plugged-in generations.

Do you agree? What are your thoughts on the use of technology in our children’s lives?

Image credit: Brad Flickinger via Flickr

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80 comments

Amanda M.
Amanda M4 years ago

We finally broke down and got our 12-year-old a flip phone for Christmas last year simply because the pay phone is rapidly becoming extinct and this way she can keep in touch with us when she needs a ride home from school or whatever. Fine and dandy; we only use flip phones ourselves, and that's all you really need.

Now she wants a friggin' smart phone for Christmas this year. No way. HELL NO. She does not NEED a smart phone-hell, WE don't need smart phones! A cell phone is for making and receiving calls from, getting text messages (in my case, also so I can know when my firehouse is getting a call-we get text messages automatically when a call gets dispatched too, so I can still receive word when I'm outside and out of earshot of the scanner). If you want to play games, surf the Web, etc. that's what I computer is for. Sheesh.

There is a big difference between tech that helps us and tech that hurts us, and allowing kids to have "tech toys" like a smart phone, Kindle, tablet, etc. are big examples of the latter. Sorry, but that's just my opinion as a "semi-unplugged" person.

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rosa barros da costa
rosa Barros4 years ago

Children must play in real live, because tjhis is a method to improve their knowlegge about the world. Relationship with other children are very important, to play in the nature is very important, exercise' their bodies is very important!

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Anne Haarhoff
Anne Haarhoff4 years ago

"To witness a 10 year-old sitting in a corner on her iPhone while the sun beams down on some of her technology-free classmates playing in the grass outside is a sad sight…" as is a group of young people at a social gathering 'connecting' not to each other but to someone a thousand miles away, or possibly in the same room! The human psyche has become so technologized that people have become disconnected --- from Nature, their inner selves, their fellow humans.

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Sybil G.
Sybil G4 years ago

Yes, Connie O. and Melania P. (what a lovely name).
I agree with you both. I spent many hours outdoors rollerskating (we had the old strap on roller skaters), and playing with other kids in my neighborhood. Even on rainy days, we'd play, play, play. There was far less TV and no video games.
I used to read for hours (now, I get my reading by listening to audio books).
I know 2 kids, 5 and 6, they share their own ipad, and use their mom's phone as well plus hours and hours of TV.

But I wouldn't want to live without the internet. All the answers at my fingertips!

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Julia Oleynik
Julia Oleynik4 years ago

Very actual! Thank you for sharing

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greenplanet e.
greenplanet e4 years ago

I think tech use is getting out of hand. You see a lot of people staring at their phones.

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Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

Thank you for posting.

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Phil M.
Catrin S4 years ago

Makes sense to limit kids online time otherwise they would never play outside .

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Mari 's
Mari 's4 years ago

What do I think? I think that non human animals are secretly laughing @ us! They live better, eat better and do most of everything just better. We are WAY TOO modernized.

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Maria Teresa Schollhorn

Thank you.

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