Apple guru kept his kids away from iPads

HE may have been dubbed "the master evangelist of the digital age", but even the late Steve Jobs worried about the effect technology has on children.

While he persuaded millions that Apple's chic but pricey gadgets were a must-buy, turning the company from a basket case to a global powerhouse, he prevented his own children from using iPads and limited their access to the internet generally.

To a generation of young people it may sound like the most boring of the seven circles of hell, but the Jobs' children would instead sit around a long dinner table in the kitchen and actually talk to one another.

The shock revelation that Jobs' children were not uber-geeks came from United States journalist Nick Bilton, who recalled a conversation with the Apple co-founder in 2010, a year before he died.

Jobs had called him to complain after Bilton wrote about a perceived failing of the iPad, which had just gone on sale. Bilton, writing in the New York Times, said that "after he had finished chewing me out" he had been shocked by Jobs' response to a question that was mainly designed to change the subject.

"So, your kids must love the iPad?" he asked. But Jobs replied: "They haven't used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home."

Bilton said he responded "with a gasp and dumbfounded Silence".

"I had imagined the Jobs' household was like a nerd's paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, and the dining table was made from tiles of iPads," he wrote.

Walter Isaacson, the author of the biography called simply Steve Jobs, told him later 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," he added.

Chris Anderson, ex-editor of technology magazine Wired, who has five children aged 6 to 17, agreed with the Jobs family approach.

"My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules," he told Bilton. "That's because we have seen the dangers of technology first-hand. I don't want to see that happen to my kids."

There is some scientific support for the idea that modern technology can be damaging. A study, published last month, of 11- and 12-year-olds found that removing digital devices, including televisions, for five days saw an improvement in social skills.

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