Steve Jobs and Bill Gates didn’t always see eye to eye. When it came to their kids’ relationships to technology, however, it seems they agreed on more than they disagreed on.
That’s based on a new interview with Microsoft co-founder Gates, in which he says he and his wife didn’t allow their children to have cellphones until they were 14 — and limited other screen time as well. Jobs did much the same.
“We often set a time after which there is no screen time and in their case that helps them get to sleep at a reasonable hour,” Gates said.
He also noted that, while there are times when technology can play a very positive role in people’s lives, there’s also a point at which it can be used too much.
“We don’t have cellphones at the table when we are having a meal,” Gates said. “We didn’t give our kids cellphones until they were 14 and they complained other kids got them earlier.”
Steve Jobs had similar views about kids and tech
Despite his work at Apple, creating devices like the iPhone and iPad, Jobs expressed similar views. In a previous New York Times article by Nick Bilton, the technology reporter recalls being, “[chewed] out” by Jobs after writing about one of the iPad’s perceived shortcomings in 2010.
After Jobs cooled down, Bilton asked him what his children thought of the then-newly released iPad. Jobs informed the stunned journalist that they hadn’t tried it yet because, “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
Looking to back up the surprising tidbit, Bilton contacted Jobs’ handpicked biographer Walter Isaacson, who noted that:
“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.”
According to Newsweek, kids in the U.S. spend more than 7.5 hours each day using smartphones and other electronic devices. The behavior reportedly can make them inept at reading social cues due to the lack of personal interaction.
While we’re as far from technophobes as possible, when you have two of the most successful tech entrepreneurs in history coming to a rare shared opinion on screen exposure and kids, maybe it’s time to sit up and pay attention!