These 7 tech bosses drastically limit their children’s screen time

In a world that is increasingly dependent on technology, it can be difficult for adults to set healthy limits for their children. In 2019, after the World Health Organization published a study recommending that children aged 5 and under should not spend more than an hour a day in front of a screen, the debate on how parents should monitor their children’s exposure to tech has intensified.

Even tech tycoons have questioned the effects screens can have on brain development. Pioneers such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs said they set strict limits for their children, and warned parents against leaving their children too much time in front of a screen. From digital curfews to banning devices at the table, here’s a list of seven tech executives who raise their kids with little or no technology.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda did not allow their children to have a mobile phone until they were 14.

Even after allowing their children to own a mobile phone, Bill and Melinda Gates limited their use. The Microsoft co-founder told the Mirror in 2017 that his children had a firm “curfew”: “We often fix an hour after which there is no screen. This helps them fall asleep at a reasonable hour.”

Bill Gates said he took these steps when he realized that his eldest daughter was playing too much video games to his liking. While the undeniable benefits of digital tools are numerous, excessive use can be detrimental. “We’re always trying to figure out how to use technology optimally — to help with homework or stay in touch with friends — and from when it gets excessive,” gates says.

The son of Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, does not own a mobile phone, and the family limits his time in front of the television.

In 2017, Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, told the New York Times that he was trying to limit his family’s collective screen time by making television difficult to access. But he did not make that decision easily. At home, our television is not easily accessible. I’m really torn, because I see what my children are learning from all this.”

In addition to monitoring the time his children spend in front of screens, Sundar Pichai said he was trying to reduce his own use of his mobile phone and computer. This is not easy for the CEO of a tech giant.

Sundar Pichai’s standards for screen time may be due to his own childhood in Chennai, India. He told Bloomberg magazine that he grew up with limited access to the phone, no computers and no television.

At Steve Jobs, dinner was reserved for one-on-one conversations with his children. This means that no iPad or iPhone was in sight.

Walter Isaacson, author of the biography “Steve Jobs,” said in a 2014 New York Times interview that the home of Apple’s visionary was rather tech-free, even though he was one of Silicon Valley’s most prolific executives.

According to Walter Isaacson, family dinners were particularly appreciated by Steve Jobs, the late APPLE CEO, because they allowed him to discuss different topics and communicate with his children: “Every night Steve Jobs and his family dined at the large table of their kitchen and discussed books, history and all kinds of things. No one has ever taken out an iPad or a computer. The children didn’t seem to be addicted to the devices at all.” In addition to tech-free family dinners, Steve Jobs’ kids wouldn’t even have tried the iPad after it went on sale in 2010: “They didn’t use it. We limit the amount of technology our children use at home,” he added.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, and his wife Anu carefully negotiate the websites that their children are allowed to visit, and for how long.

And when his children found ways to get around the rules — like borrowing a friend’s Netflix account — Mark Cuban found out. He has installed special routers that detect the applications his children use, as well as giving him the ability to block their access to the internet. “That’s the downside of having a geeky father, you know. I can understand all of this,” Mark Cuban said in the Thrive Global Podcast in 2017.

Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel and former Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr limit their 8-year-old’s screen time to an hour and a half a week.

Evan Spiegel himself grew up without television. He explains that this forced him to read, build things and think for himself. He told the Financial Times that he wanted to pass this on to his daughter. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to cut it off completely from the technology. “I think the most interesting conversation to have is about the quality of this screen time,” he explains. In the past, Spiegel has argued for more parents to consider re-evaluating and limiting their children’s screen time.

In a 2017 interview with Good Housekeeping, Satya and Anu Nadella discussed how they monitor their children’s use of technology, including receiving weekly reports on their use of Computer. “The technology for entertainment will always be monitored in our house: how many movies, what types of video games…” said Anu Nadella.

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and tennis icon Serena Williams plan to limit their daughter’s screen time when she’s older.

The daughter of Alex Ohanian and Serena Williams is only two years old. The Reddit co-founder told CNBC that the couple already had a plan for the time when their child will develop a curiosity for all that is digital. “My wife and I want her to know what it’s like to have limits on technology,” he says. “I can’t wait to play video games with her when she’s older. But it is very important that she has time to be with her thoughts, her blocks and her toys. So we’re going to regulate this pretty strictly.”

Investor and ‘Shark Tank’ star Mark Cuban has installed special routers at home to monitor his children’s use of the internet. It blocks their access when they exceed the set screen time limits.

Mark Cuban, the billionaire investor and star of the show “Shark Tank” (“Who wants to be my partner?” in France), first set up a rewards system for his children to save screen time. For every hour of playback, they received two hours of Netflix. His son also often exchanged math problems for Minecraft’s time.

And when his children found ways to get around the rules — like borrowing a friend’s Netflix account — Mark Cuban found out. He has installed special routers that detect the applications his children use, as well as giving him the ability to block their access to the internet. “That’s the downside of having a geeky father, you know. I can understand all of this,” Mark Cuban said in the Thrive Global Podcast in 2017.

Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel and former Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr limit their 8-year-old’s screen time to an hour and a half a week.

Evan Spiegel himself grew up without television. He explains that this forced him to read, build things and think for himself. He told the Financial Times that he wanted to pass this on to his daughter. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to cut it off completely from the technology. “I think the most interesting conversation to have is about the quality of this screen time,” he explains. In the past, Spiegel has argued for more parents to consider re-evaluating and limiting their children’s screen time.

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