Media elite unplugged

This was echoed in a piece published in the New York Times in September, titled “Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent.” The writer, a veteran at covering the tech industry, remembers that the late Apple CEO once told him that his own home was relatively free of the iPods and iPads that had made his fortune, and that his children had severely limited access to the technology that those devices had put into the hands of billions.

His curiosity piqued, he asked around other tech industry giants and found that they, too, put strict limits on the use of technology in their home. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that not one of their friends have the same rules,” says Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired magazine and now head of a drone maker.

“That’s because we’ve seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it myself, and I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

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  • Jay Currie

    Rubbish. Our world has changed. The internet is not network TV.

    Rick is stuck in a world which is over. My kids read books, build stuff, shoot BB guns and know cursive. They also spend hours a day online. Jobs and Anderson spent weeks at a time immersed in computers when they were in their early twenties. Their kids are starting early.

    • Rick McGinnis

      I’m not pining for a world that’s gone, Jay. I’m talking about balance, and teaching kids a healthy skepticism for the sort of mainstream culture where standards are low to non-existent. The point isn’t computer use, but knowing how to process what comes out of it. People who’ve made fortunes in tech and the media, like much of the elite, know that their children will go further if they have better standards and values and question what comes out of the pipeline. Oddly enough, that’s exactly what social conservatives try to teach their kids; it’s ironic because they’re almost always at odds with each other in the cultural arena.

      • Clausewitz

        I’ve seen the effects of the school boards pushing tech in the classrooms, and it’s not all good. Much like at home, many lazy teachers use it as a babysitting device. Many of the students in my class are surprised when on the first day I inform them that any paper handed in using wiki as reference is an autofail. I do however teach them to use wiki to follow the references and leads from the books used as sources. Too many teachers have no clue what primary source means and will accept any drivel posted on the internet just as long as the student cites the source. Peer review seems to be a lost concept.

        • Frau Katze

          I expect the best students will still succeed, Wiki or no Wiki. Not sure about the others, not having any experience teaching.

      • b_marco

        Your use of the word covertly really brings that last point home.

      • Jay Currie

        Teaching scepticism to my kids, inculcating the idea that you need to check sources and not take anything for granted would be the job with a book based culture as much as it is with You-tube or Wiki.

        I don’t think it is a Socon idea. It reaches back to the Enlightenment and snakes through rationalism and the Blessed Orwell. That profound sense of disbelief is not a position I have seen a lot of Socons embrace simply because it requires an open mind examining rational rather than emotional or traditional arguments. A good deal of the Socon world view does not stand up we’ll to sceptical analysis.

        At the same time, if parents leave their children to be, in Nora Ephron’s wonderful phrase, “brought up by appliances” they can expect that the Kardashians will, along with a mindless adherence to social justice speak, mar their dinner table conversation. Which they may not notice because dinner as we once knew it no longer exists in many families.

        Isolating your children from the net is not the same as actually engaging with them. And using Steve – that is not my kid – Jobs as an examplar of parenting is a huge error.

        I am not terribly interested in what elite parents tell their children’s nannies to forbid or restrict. I am interested in what they actually did, if anything, with their kids.

        • Rick McGinnis

          I think we’re arguing at cross-purposes here, Jay. I definitely wasn’t making Jobs an exemplar, just quoting an article that uses his parenting methods to hang their story on. And I’m sure you’ll find that socons are probably engaging with their kids – they tend not to have nannies, and also favour homeschooling. (Though I detect a bit of hostility towards socons in your remarks.) The common thread is people who want their kids to succeed teaching them not to try and embrace the roaring detritus that pours out of the pipeline. And what you call “isolating kids from the net” is really just setting reasonable limits on time spent engaging with it – after all, we all need a break from the 24/7 screen, especially kids, who get easily distracted (as do some adults.)

      • b_marco

        Stumbled across this earlier and thought of your latest piece:

        On the way we passed Artek, an elite summer camp open only to the most precocious and children of the nomenklatura. The name was Soviet shorthand for happiness. When children arrived they would find a letter on their bunk from the previous visitor saying how magical their time at Artek had been and how they wished the best for the new arrival. Artek was far more liberal than the rest of the USSR: the children watched semi-dissident films and sang Beatles songs. The food was better than many Soviet children had ever known. The activities were all carefully designed by psychologists, the children’s ideological and emotional journey calculated down to the hour. ‘It was a huge laboratory to create the ideal Soviet child,’ one of the instructors at Artek told me when I interviewed him, years later, for a film about the camp. ‘Children were meant to carry this vision of perfection to the outside world.’ Most alumni remember Artek as the happiest time of their lives. Others could sense something was not quite right: ‘It felt like a sect; like I was in the TV series Тhe Prisoner,’ I was told by someone who went from the UK with his socialist parents in the 1980s.

        Sorta inverted, but same basic approach by elites.

    • Frau Katze

      Mine were already grown up by the time the in home device thing became big.