YouTube CEO restricts how often her kids get to use mobile phones

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Susan Wojcicki isn't the first big name in tech to do the same.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The CEO of YouTube has joined a growing list of big name tech industry figures who restrict their kids’ access to mobile devices.

Susan Wojcicki says that, “I have times when I take away all my kids’ phones, especially if we’re on a family vacation, because I want people to interact with each other.” Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have previously expressed similar sentiments.

Speaking with The Guardian recently, Wojcicki said that:

“I take away their phones and say: ‘We’re all going to focus on being present today.’ It comes back to balance – people need to learn when it is a time [to be] focused in the conversation, and when it is OK to go and watch videos or do other activities on the internet.”

Her kids range in age from four to late teens. While she says her kids have phones for safety reasons, she does not think they should have constant access.

“TV was the same when I was growing up,” she said. “I was taught that, sure, some TV is enjoyable, but it needs to be balanced with sports, school, homework, reading and other activities.”

The dangers of smartphone addiction

Wojcicki isn’t the first high profile tech figure to discuss this topic. In a 2010 conversation with Nick Bilton, Steve Jobs said that his kids had yet to try out the iPad. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” he said. Bill Gates has uttered similar sentiments.

Meanwhile, a number of tech figures have called on people to get off social networking tools like Facebook.

Apple, for its part, has introduced screen-monitoring tools Screen Time. This was created with the goal of allowing parents to monitor how much their kids (and themselves, too) were using their iOS devices. It was introduced after activist investors raised the issue. Books like iGen have additionally increased people’s awareness of the effects of over-reliance on connected gadgets.

Nothing Wojcicki says is non-controversial. But given how addictive things like social media can be, it’s pretty telling that the top tech figures are wary about overexposing their kids to these effects. It’s a bit like a chef saying they wouldn’t want their family eating in their restaurant too often. As any parents reading this will know, it’s often a tough balance to get right.

Do you worry about kids using technology like smartphones too much? How do you get the balance right in your house? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.