Why Did Steve Jobs Limit His Children’s Exposure to Technology?

children computer sisters apple laptopThere is the mistaken impression that computers represent the future and that everyone, especially the very young, should become computer savvy as soon as possible. According to this view, failure to expose children to high technology handicaps their ability to function in the real world.

Is Technology Ruining Your Life? Take A Quick Quiz To Find Out By Clicking Here.

However, in the real world, addiction to the omnipresent small screens can be an actual handicap. Discouraging overexposure to technology might actually be an advantage in today’s hyper-connected world.

Such views are not those of overprotective parents unfamiliar with these technologies. Even the most enthusiastic promoters of computer gadgetry can be seen discouraging the very products they produce. The most notable case was Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who claimed he did not let his teenage children have iPads and limited their tech consumption at home.

When the iPad exploded into market in 2010, Jobs’ daughters Erin and Eve were not part of the market. The late Steve Jobs and wife Laurene Powell deliberately regulated their children’s exposure to the new products and its culture.

What did the young Jobs girls do instead of texting and surfing the Web? Apparently, they did the things normal children do.

Biographer Walter Isaacson reports the family had dinner together every night where they would discuss books, history and other non-technical things. The iPad, iPhone and other devices had no place at their table. And the children did not seem particularly disturbed by the fact.

 Jobs, who died in October 2011, thought that limiting his daughters’ computer use would help his children develop a love for creative expression. He did not want them whiling away their time on games and useless programs. Paradoxically, Jobs enthusiastically filled the world with gadgets that transformed the way most people listen to music, entertain themselves and communicate. However, what he marketed to other families, he did not necessarily want for his own.

Apparently Jobs was not alone.

It appears that a growing number of high-tech executives take measures to limit the amount of exposure their children have to the technology they produce, design and market. These concerned parents cite the new technology’s overwhelming attraction and addiction as factors in their decisions.

One example of this trend is found at a Silicon Valley elementary school. According to a 2011 New York Times story on the trend, many engineers and executives from high profile tech companies like Apple, eBay, Google, Hewlett-Packard, and Yahoo send their children to a Waldorf elementary school in Los Altos, California, where television viewing is discouraged and electronic devices are banned. They claim such radical educational measures are necessary to ensure their children develop all their talents without unnecessary distractions.

Such “radical” measures are really not that radical. In fact, parents need not send their children to expensive private schools to allow their own children the same privileges as their counterparts in Los Altos.

All parents need to do is let their children be children. Children need to grow up being children with all the interacting, creativity and spontaneity that has always been part of a healthy childhood. They need to do things like play games, eat together as a family and solve problems together.

The real radicals are those who allow their children to be electronically sequestered and tethered to their little devices and thus never encountering the real world. If there is any doubt about this, all one needs to do is ask the experts. Steve Jobs would agree.

free subscription

As seen on TheBlaze.com

  • leorich2

    i fully agree with Mr Horvat on the dangers of the computer – I believe that it can desensitize a person , child or adult, and also anything that can lead to addiction is dangerous . i support the belief that many acts of violence by the youth are due to playing of violent games on the computer

  • Teresa

    Does this mean that “educational” technology should be discouraged to
    young people as well? Isn’t it a good thing to take an
    online/computerized course? Especially for young people who are
    homeschooling and don’t have any teachers?

    • osteomed

      It certainly is Teresa, but there are many many other uses for the computer and many of these have made or children and young adults verbally and expressively handicapped.

      • Legoge47

        Without computers we wouldn’t be able to read stuff like this!

    • SheilaF

      Please do not confuse homeschooled children with those who “need” teachers or online/computerized courses. As a an electrical engineer who gave up a career in medical device design to homeschool children who would be held back by institutional education, I have witnessed firsthand these kids learn to teach themselves from a book and accelerate at a faster pace in the subjects they excel in. Granted not all homeschooled children have hyper educated mothers teaching them at a young age, but many of us are those who showed our high school calculus class how to correctly solve the problem that our calculus “teacher” messed up solving on the board. Our kids do not need outrageously priced “test prep” businesses to crush standardized tests on their own, earn college credits as young teenagers, and get scholarships from colleges because they already know what they want to do. The only electronic device I let my kids use is a graphing calculator.

  • Marie

    My thoughts on education and computers: limit the use of the computer as much as possible when educating the young (especially). If you can give children an education without any electronic devices, they will have much better fruits from their education.

  • osteomed

    Steve Jobs and Robert Demane, both limited their children’s exposure to TV, computers etc to 49 minutes per day!
    Many young adults have lost their ability to communicate verbally; as sitting on an interview for a job and describing their desire and expectations for being hired. I’ve personally witnessed this and it’s sad how our society will forever be changed.

    • Yeah it actually destroys the family time and inner abilities of a child

  • The real reason- because he had met Steve Wozniack, and didn’t want his girls growing up to emulate him. Steve Jobs was a marketer, not a techie.

  • Leonard Churilla

    I find it extremely rude of people (kids and adults) to be busy texting all the time while you are visiting with them. One retired teacher I know says that whenever she is talking with someone and they answer their cell phone, she just walks away. “We weren’t born with phones attached to our umbilical cords, so why must we be so attached?” I don’t know why anyone would want to have a cell phone on their vacation when the whole idea of a vacation is to get away from all that stuff! And don’t tell me that every situation is an emergency!!

  • WonDrous WilBur WishBone

    Like anything else, technology can be misused & abused & have debilitating effects on society & individuals…..Like most things in life, BALANCE is the key to raising the consciousness & happiness!