Mercatornet 15 September 2014
In an announcement that coincides with the release of the Apple iPhone 6 Plus—a predicted preteen must-have—New York Times tech columnist Nick Bilton tells us that Steve Jobs (1955–2011), Apple co-founder and pioneer of the Mac, the iPhone and the iPad, restricted his four children’s use of technology:
I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow.
Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.
Since then, I’ve met a number of technology chief executives and venture capitalists who say similar things: they strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends.
What, Bilton wonders, do the high tech whizzes know that the rest of us don’t?
Well, one thing they told him is that people become addicted to electronic devices. Indeed. We’ve not only seen it, some of us have been it. It’s addiction when
– we prefer online relationships to natural ones (because they feel safer).
– instead of helping us with focused work or study projects, the Net wastes our time, costing us promotions and marks—and we don’t even care as long as we can keep surfing.
– we have a history of substance abuse, and our Internet use is beginning to resemble a bout with a substance.
Children are at risk for Internet addiction because, unlike substances, it isn’t forbidden, controlled, or restricted, except by parents or teachers. Add to that the fact that some children spend far too much time alone in their rooms online, and addiction can be predicted.