September 15, 2014
Steve Jobs’s surprisingly low-tech parenting
by Nick Davies
In a fairly surprising revelation, New York Times writer Nick Bilton reports that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs didn’t let his children use the iPad when it first came out, and in fact, had strict rules about the amount of technology they could use.
Bilton writes about a run-in he had with Jobs back in 2010:
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.
Jobs wasn’t alone in that regard, as Bilton writes that he has since discussed the subject with several tech company CEOs, who took a similar position. They talk about enforcing strict limits on screen time to keep their kids from becoming addicted to devices, dealing with bullies, and other dangers; as well as giving them more time to focus on schoolwork and (I know this sounds crazy) physical books.
In fact, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams says that his two young sons have hundreds of books that they can pick up any time, and read them for more than 140 characters at a time, because…well, that would be kind of a pointless exercise.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.