Steve Jobs Banned his Children from Using an iPad

Steve Jobs Banned his Children from Using an iPad

Although Steve Jobs is credited as the best technology innovator in the history of Silicon Valley, he was actually an art major in college. Jobs credited his creative talents as the secret sauce in building Apple Computer as the most valuable company in the world. 

Because of a desire for his three children to develop a love for creative expression, Jobs responded to tech reporter Nick Bilton’s question about whether Steve had tested his children’s response to the iPad 2 before the 2011 unveiling: “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

Steve Jobs was the father of three teenagers when he passed away in 2011. The kids grew up in the shadow of the world’s best known entrepreneur who co-founded many companies, including Apple, that became the most valuable company on earth. According SF Gate, “Jobs led the world into the digital age with gadgets that transformed the way we listen to music, watch movies, communicate, live our lives.” 

Steve Jobs’ father was a machinist who mentored his young son Steve. They would tinker together in the garage, tearing apart and putting back together electronic devices. Jobs was an overactive child and did not do well in school, but he tested off the charts on intelligence assessments. 

Jobs in high school met a friend who would eventually help found Apple: Steve Wozniak. The “Woz,” in a 2007 interview with PC World said:

We both loved electronics and the way we used to hook up digital chips. Very few people, especially back then, had any idea what chips were, how they worked and what they could do. I had designed many computers, so I was way ahead of him in electronics and computer design, but we still had common interests. We both had pretty much sort of an independent attitude about things in the world.

Jobs seems to have set the bar in Silicon Valley for entrepreneurs encouraging their kids to be creative by limiting access to the consumer tech products they hock to the public. In an article in the Sunday New York Times article titled “Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent,” reporter Nick Bilton found:

A growing trend among the California Silicon Valley tech set to limit children’s technology use. Many of the people behind the social media platforms, gadgets and games that are consuming our kids’ time and minds aren’t actually allowing their own children to waste an entire Saturday afternoon playing Minecraft on the iPad.

Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired Magazine, Chief Executive of 3D Robotics, and father of five emphasized that he and other tech colleagues are limiting technology in the home: 

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.

A 2011 New York Times story reported that engineers and execs from Apple, eBay, Google, Hewlett-Packard, and Yahoo are sending their kids to a Waldorf elementary school in Los Altos, California, where kids are discouraged from watching television or logging on at home, and there are no computers or other electronic “devices.”

The Times found that Alan Eagle, who works in executive communications at Google and has a degree in computer science from Dartmouth, has a fifth grader at Waldorf and “doesn’t know how to use Google.”

The goal of a tech free childhood is to make sure that hands-on creativity, expressive movement, and person-to-person interaction in kids is not stifled by escape into the netherworld of four inch screens. Waldorf believes that their students are “gaining math, patterning, and problem-solving skills by knitting socks.” They also suggest that learning fractions is best accomplished by learning about halves and quarters by cutting up food. 

Most modern executive parents think they are doing the “right thing” to prepare their children to compete in a tech savvy world by filling their homes with all the newest gadgets, screens, and apps. But as an artist and the greatest entrepreneur in history, Steve Jobs wanted his kids to be able to accomplish physical tasks like actually being able to make dinner rather than lead a sedentary childhood dominated by iPads, iWatches, and iPhones.

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