By now it is common knowledge that many of the leaders of the companies that develop and market computers and smartphones are hesitant to let their own children use the very devices their companies make and sell. It is a cautionary attitude that many school leaders would benefit from knowing.
For years the high priests of high tech and those in the pantheon of personal computer development have limited the use of technology among their children. As the New York Times pointed out last week in an article titled, “A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley”:
Tim Cook, the C.E.O. of Apple, said earlier this year that he would not let his nephew join social networks. Bill Gates banned cellphones until his children were teenagers, and Melinda Gates wrote that she wished they had waited even longer. Steve Jobs would not let his young children near iPads.
It seems that the people who know the most about technology are the ones most worried about its use by children. Why?
“On the scale between candy and crack cocaine,” Chris Anderson told the Times, “it’s closer to crack cocaine.” Anderson is the former editor of Wired, founded GeekDad.com, and is now the chief executive of a robotics and drone company. “This is going straight to the pleasure centers of the developing brain. This is beyond our capacity as regular parents to understand.”
His children, he said, attended private elementary school which introduced iPads and smart whiteboards, only to “descend into chaos and then pull back from it all.”
The concern has always been there, but, says the Times,
… in the last year, a fleet of high-profile Silicon Valley defectors have been sounding alarms in increasingly dire terms about what these gadgets do to the human brain. Suddenly rank-and-file Silicon Valley workers are obsessed. No-tech homes are cropping up across the region. Nannies are being asked to sign no-phone contracts.
Of course this makes you wonder why companies whose leaders are fearful of the consequences of their products still promote them for home and school use. It should also be a warning to school leaders, many of whom appear not to have gotten the memo that technology is not necessarily their friend, and could, in many cases, very well be a formidable enemy.