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Interviews with Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and other tech elites consistently reveal that Silicon Valley parents are strict about their use of technology.
A new book suggests that the signs may have been clear years ago that smartphone use should be regulated.
However, there may be a way to integrate technology into the classroom that avoids its harmful effects.
Psychologists are quickly learning how dangerous smartphones can be to teenage brains.
Research has found that an eighth grader's risk of depression goes up 27% when he frequently uses social media. Children who use their phones for at least three hours a day are much more likely to be suicidal. And recent research has found that the teen suicide rate in the US now dwarfs the homicide rate, with smartphones being the driving force.
But the writings on smartphone risk may have been around for about a decade, according to educators Joe Clement and Matt Miles, co-authors of the recent book "Screen Schooled": Where Two Veteran Teachers Explain How Overuse of Smartphone technology makes our children dumber. "
How getting rid of my smartphone revolutionized my life
It should be telling, Clement and Miles argue, that the two biggest tech figures in recent history, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, rarely let their kids play with the same products they helped create.
"What do these wealthy tech executives know about their own products that their consumers don't?" the authors wrote. The answer, according to a growing body of evidence, is the addictive power of digital technology.
[mks_highlight color = ”# f1f497 ″]’ We limit the amount of technology our children use at home '[/ mks_highlight]
In 2007, Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, implemented a limit on screen time when his daughter began to develop an unhealthy addiction to a video game. He also didn't allow his children to get cell phones until they were 14 (today, the average age for a child to get their first phone is 10.)
Jobs, who was Apple's CEO until his death in 2012, revealed in a 2011 New York Times interview that he prohibited his children from using the newly released iPad. "We limit the amount of technology our children use at home," Jobs told reporter Nick Bilton.
In "Screen Schooled," Clement and Miles argue that wealthy Silicon Valley parents seem to grasp the addictive powers of smartphones, tablets, and computers more than the general public does, despite the fact that these parents are often they earn a living creating and investing in such technology.
"It's interesting to think that in a modern public school, where children are required to use electronic devices such as iPads," the authors wrote, "Steve Jobs' children would be the only children without them."
Jobs' children have finished school, so it is impossible to know how the late Apple co-founder would have responded to educational technology, or "edtech." But Clement and Miles suggest that if Jobs' children had attended the average school in America today, they would have used technology in the classroom much more than they did at home growing up.
That's in the average school at least, according to the co-authors. Several Silicon Valley specialty schools, like the Waldorf School, are notably "low-tech." They use blackboards and No. 2 pencils. Instead of learning how to code, children are taught the soft skills of cooperation and respect. At Brightworks School, children learn creativity by building things and attending tree house classes.
Edtech will not be a 'cure all'
If there is any concession Gates has made about technology, it is in the benefits it offers to students in certain educational settings. In the years since Gates implemented his family policy, the billionaire philanthropist has become very interested in personalized education, an approach that uses electronic devices to help design lesson plans for each student.
In a recent blog post, Gates celebrated Summit Sierra, a Seattle-based school that takes students' personal goals, like getting into a specific college, and creates a path to get there. Teachers in personalized learning environments take on a more coaching role, helping students get back to normal when they get stuck or distracted.
In these cases, technology is used in the most specific way possible, and in a way that Gates recognizes as helpful to a student's development, not entertainment.
"Personalized learning will not be a panacea," he wrote. But Gates said he is "hopeful that this approach can help many more young people make the most of their talents."
Chris Weller, Business Insider
Original article (in English)