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The Surprising Things Steve Jobs Wouldn’t Let His Kids Do . . . October 23, 2014

My longtime radio associate, Jerry Del Colliano, sends out several E-mail messages each day to those within the radio broadcast industry … as part of his communications industry consulting activities. Some, like this one, are just so “on target” that I feel led to share with you. After working for me in 1964, Jerry went on to be a program director of multiple stations, the publisher of a radio industry newsletter as well as a college professor:

You might think the iconic founder of Apple computers (think iPhone & iPad) would have children who are so tech savvy they cannot put their digital devices down.

Not so.

The late Steve Jobs and his wife Laurene, a Stanford University trustee, would limit the amount of screen time their children were allowed to have every day.

In fact, many Silicon Valley tech execs limit their children’s screen time.

What do they know that makes them act with such certainty when many of us give in to the whims of students, the pressures of their peer groups and even the misguided direction of some early education teachers?

Here’s what they do, perhaps it is helpful or at least thought worthy:

  1. Strictly limit screen time (note that I said “strictly”).
  2. Ban use of digital devices on school nights (yes, try this at home).
  3. No screens in the bedroom under any circumstances.
  4. Define that which you will allow children to do when they are allowed screen time.
  5. Put in place what I call “analog” time for weekends where children can interact with parents, each other or have time for themselves.  I grew up in the small town of Springfield, PA where I walked to get everywhere and anywhere.  As I look back on that, the time alone helped me pass the time by using my creativity.

Screens in the back of cars and SUVs to keep children occupied should be banned.  It’s lazy parenting as is plopping kids in front of a television.

Encourage kids to look for license plates from far away states, talk to each other, play games and yes, even talk back and forth with mom and dad.

Need more motivation to get tough with screen time?

Exposure to harmful content, easily accessed pornography, social sites like SnapChat where lots of kids take nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves without their parents knowing because the site claims the pictures are self destructive 2-10 seconds after they are viewed.

There’s bullying.  Lack of sleep when young people take their phones to bed (which they do).  Social ineptitude resulting from a lack of personal contact with others.  Children under 10 are the most susceptible.

We are not doing our jobs if we allow young people to pick up the destructive habits of digital living – the same habits that may also be compromising our lives.

What did Steve Jobs’ children do instead of using the devices he invented?  ANew York Times reporter recently asked Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson if he knew.

“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books, and history and a variety of things.  No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices”.

Become addicted to life with digital devices in their proper place.

Proverbs 22:6 provides the Biblical support for taking this approach with children:

The original King James states: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Or, as the NIV translates: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”


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