If Steve Jobs Limited Screen Time for His Kids, Why don't I?

I had two very distinct relationships with television growing up. The first ten years of my life were lived in Ghana, West Africa. At the time, television programming was generally restricted to evening news and a show here and there. So for the most part, I played and enjoy life in an incredibly hospitable culture without the constant allure of a television. I migrated to the United States at age ten and went from watching very little TV to a screen consumption that would later impact my eyesight.

So long as I wasn’t watching inappropriate material, the sky was the limit on what I choose to view. And so I enjoyed plenty of cartoons, family sitcoms, and the usual Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and PBS shows. These would be exchanged for the Food Network and TLC as I grew older.

After marriage and with our first pregnancy, my husband and I decided that a weaning from television was in order. We wanted to raise our baby up in a TV free home. And by God’s grace, we are now living intentionally without Cable or local TV programming at our house.

We typically watch a DVD together as a couple once a week and our daughters, age 3 and 11-months, have a growing collection of Praise Baby Songs, Theo, What’s in the Bible and old Davey and Goliath episodes that they watch throughout the week.

I’ve noticed however that, even with these precautions, the problem of the “glowing scene” remains. Whether it’s “ABC Phonics Songs” on YouTube, Mommy’s phone or just too many hours with her DVDs, I often hand my eldest daughter over to the entertainment of a device when I’m “pressed for time.” And this can be often.

So you can imagine my surprise – and yes, even conviction – on hearing that Steve Job’s, the late Apple mogul, was a “low tech parent.” Reporting on his daily podcast, the Briefing, Albert Mohler shared a New York Time’s story by Nick Bilton on the parenting practice of Jobs.

According to the report, the Jobs’ household was far from a technology paradise. Instead, Jobs and his wife were deliberate in supervising the amount of screen time their children had. And the Jobs' aren't alone in this. It seems that many tech developers are tightly regulating their children's device usage.

For one family, children under 10, being the most susceptible to becoming addicted to devices, have no access to gadgets during the week. Older children are permitted 30 minutes to an hour solely for homework purposes. And on weekends, they are limited to 30 minutes to two hours on iPad and smartphones.

So if the late Steve Jobs (and others like him) limited the screen time of his children, why don’t I? Let’s put it this way, if I invent something, sell it to you but then keep it from my own children, you should take note and follow my lead!

We know well the dangers of careless technology usage. I don’t need to over-stress the possible addiction to devices, exposure to pornography, and just wasted time and missed opportunities for family engagement. These are perilous times for children and parents. God forbid then that we impulsively treat our devices as “go-to babysitters” when pressured for time.

According to the Scriptures, parents are responsible for the intentional training of their children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Ephesians 6:4). May we not curtail this to others, much less to a glowing screen. So moving forward, my children’s tech time will be strictly reduced to an hour a day. God help us not to fall back in time to “life as usual”. God help me to check my own appetite for a glowing screen. And God help us to honor Him in our usage of all things as a family. Amen.