- Digital Detox -

Just Say No to Children’s Screen Time

Why Silicon Valley tech execs limit their own children’s screen time.

Boy using tablet device

In 2010 a New York Times reporter asked Apple mastermind Steve Jobs how his children loved the new iPad. “They haven’t used it,” Jobs replied. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” Since then, more Silicon Valley tech execs — people in the best position to understand the dangers inherent in the devices they make and market — have voiced concerns. These quotes may leave you reconsidering your kids’ screen use.

“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.”

— Melinda Gates, former Microsoft developer, cochair and cofounder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gate’s, in a 2017 Washington Post parenting perspective piece

 

“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules. That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself; I don’t want to see that happen to my kids. . . . On the scale between candy and crack cocaine, it’s closer to crack cocaine.”

Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired, founder of tech blog GeekDad.com, and now CEO of robotics and drone company 3DR, quoted in the New York Times in 2014 and 2018

 

“The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them . . . was all about ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’. . . God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

— Napster founder and former Facebook president Sean Parker, speaking at the 2017 Axios conference

 

“I am convinced the devil lives in our phones and is wreaking havoc on our children.”

Athena Chavarria, former executive assistant at Facebook and current executive assistant at Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic arm, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, quoted in the New York Times in 2018

 

“I don’t have a kid, but I have a nephew that I put some boundaries on. There are some things that I won’t allow; I don’t want them on a social network.”

— Apple CEO Tim Cook, quoted in the Guardian in 2018

 

“Apple Watches, Google Phones, Facebook, Twitter — they’ve gotten so good at getting us to go for another click, another dopamine hit. They now have a responsibility & need to start helping us track & manage our digital addictions across all usages.”

— Former Apple senior vice president Tony Fadell, one of the developers of the iPod and iPhone, on Twitter in 2018

 

“When it comes to digital ‘nourishment,’ we don’t know what a ‘vegetable,’ a ‘protein,’ or a ‘fat’ is. What is ‘overweight’ or ‘underweight’? What does a healthy, moderate digital life look like? I think that manufacturers and app developers need to take on this responsibility, before government regulators decide to step in — as with nutritional labelling. Interestingly, we already have digital-detox clinics in the U.S. I have friends who have sent their children to them. But we need basic tools to help us before it comes to that.”

— Former Apple senior vice president Tony Fadell, one of the developers of the iPod and iPhone, in a 2018 Wired commentary

 

“My wife and I both want [our daughter] to be bored. My wife and I both want to know what it’s like to have limits on tech. So we’ll be regulating [her screen time] pretty heavily.”

— Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian on CNBC’s Squawk Box in 2018

 

“There’s no screen time whatsoever [for my children].”

— Former Facebook senior executive Chamath Palihapitiya on CNBC’s Squawk Box in 2017

 

“It is very common for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences. . . . One reason I think it is particularly important for us to talk about this now is that we may be the last generation that can remember life before,”

— Former Google product manager and former Facebook engineering lead Justin Rosenstein, cofounder of software company Asana, quoted in the Guardian in 2017

 

is a deputy editor for Experience Life.

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