Did you know that Steve Jobs was a “low-tech” parent? Meaning–he did not allow his kids to turn into tech-junkies by spending hours on end playing with tech-toys. He stated, “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
Surprising isn’t it?! I think most of us would assume that one of the greatest tech geniuses of all times would want his kids to have a technology edge and allow them unlimited use. Not so…
And Steve Jobs was not the only parent who clamped down on his kid’s tech-use. Other tech geniuses like:
Chris Anderson: C.E.O. of 3D Robotics,
Alex Constantinople: C.E.O of OutCast Agency,
Evan Williams: founder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium
They also limit their children’s use of technology by putting strict rules regarding its’ use.
Why? Is there something they know that we don’t know?
Yes. They understand this very important truth: we live in a 3-dimensional world and technology is a 2-dimensional world. Living consistently in that 2-dimensional world can cause a host of problems in learning, social interactions, and emotional development.
Think about this:
Are you a User or Creator?
Steve Jobs was the genius tech-creator, but we are the users. And, there is a big difference between the two. Cultural critic Roland Barthes lamented in the 1970s that the wooden block’s children used to play with were in decline, and it was sad because now children were taught to be users, not creators.
Are we teaching our children to be users rather than creators? If so, the consequences will be far-reaching.
Let me be clear on one point: I’m not against technology. Not, at all. To me, technology is neither good nor bad—its value is predicated on how it is used. In many respects, it is an amazing tool; provides a wealth of easily-accessible information; allows for the storage of information; a tool that provides a quick communication with people, and has the ability to keep us in touch with long-distant family and friends.
But its’ overuse can cause addiction; significant learning issues, and dehumanize us.
Like everything in life, it needs controls. I guess Shakespeare knew what he was talking about when he said: “Moderation in all things…”
I am passionate about learning, including what helps people learn and what impairs learning. For years I have gathered data on the harmful brain effects of too much technology. The studies show that the overuse of technology literally changes brain circuitry and can contribute to (and perhaps cause) many serious disorders.
Too much technology causes a host of problems with kids
Here’s some food for thought:
Too Much Technology? Look for these signs:
- Obsessive compulsive disorder,
- ADD/ADHD attention-deficit disorder (focusing, attention to tasks, etc)
- Visual Perception (related to reading, reading comprehension, math)
- Sleeping disorders
- Body dysmorphic disorder (how children view their bodies—most video games portray Barbie-like and He-Man-like unrealistic body types)
- Mood disorders: Depression, Mania, etc
- Loss of empathy—especially when there is a video-game addiction which can cause desensitization and emotional distance
Help Your Kids Monitor Technology
Parents—please help your kids control the amount of time they spend on television, Facebook, playing video games, surfing the Internet, and cell phones, etc. Pediatricians suggest no more than 45 minutes-1 hour per day on tech devices. They also recommend that a child under the age of two should be nowhere near technology.
When your child (up to age 10) is on the computer, sit with them and monitor what they are seeing. “Co-viewing” is important because it allows you to talk to your child about the advertisements, the videos, the images, etc., they are seeing. You want to be your child’s first teacher—not the Internet.
Need help? Here are some things we did to help our kids control their technology use that might be helpful to you:
Charts: Create a chart (click below for the FREE printable) where you can daily record how much time each person in the family is spending on technology. It may surprise everyone just how much time is wasted on these two-dimensional screens. After a month of careful charting, sit down with your family and discuss ways you can limit its use and what activities you can do instead.
Parents: it’s important that you do this exercise with your kids. It will give you an opportunity to evaluate how much time YOU spend “plugged in.” What kind of tech role model are YOU? And are your children mirroring YOUR tech-use behavior?
Charts Lead to Self-Monitoring
One of the goals for monitoring technology is to teach your child about being responsible for what he chooses to do with his time. And hopefully to choose (at least most of the time) activities that will enhance his life rather than be time-wasters.
We got our first computer in 1985. It was easier back then to control because there was no Internet, no cell phones, and rather boring video games. Our first three sons were not that interested in the computer, but our last son loved tech toys and would have spent his entire life playing games, etc. if we didn’t have some rules in place. We tried several things, but one strategy worked the best.
Our Most Successful Strategy for Monitoring Tech Toys
For every minute our sons spent on a tech device, they had to spend an equal amount of time practicing their musical instruments. Example:
10 minutes playing video games = 10 minutes practicing the piano
15 minutes watching TV = 15 minutes practicing the piano, etc.
The result: over time our boys learned to self-monitor the time they spent on technology. It freed me from being the policeman and taught them responsibility in how they chose to spend their time.
Another idea: the program, RescueTime may help your child. It’s a time management software that can help them be aware if they are spending too much time on Facebook, the Internet, etc.
One more thing: if you are putting the brakes on tech-use with your kids, there will be a “time hole” and someone or something (or both) is going to need to help her fill that hole. There are tons of things your kids can do instead of being “plugged-in,” but they may need you to guide them–especially in the beginning.
Next up: Exchange Technology for these Brain-Building Activities
Parents taking music lessons with their children