28 August 2018
I spotted a post doing the rounds on social media once again this morning; a snippet from Alice Thomson at The Times about technology and the imbalance between those at the top of the industry and those using the tech:
“Melinda Gates’s children don’t have smartphones and only use a computer in the kitchen. Her husband Bill spends hours in his office reading books while everyone else is refreshing their homepage.
The most sought-after private school in Silicon Valley, the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, bans electronic devices for the under-11s and teaches the children of eBay, Apple, Uber and Google staff to make go-karts, knit and cook. Mark Zuckerberg wants his daughters to read Dr Seuss and play outside rather than use Messenger Kids. Steve Jobs strictly limited his children’s use of technology at home.
It’s astonishing if you think about it: the more money you make out of the tech industry, the more you appear to shield your family from its effects.” (Alice Thomson in The Times)
I’ve written before about Steve Jobs propensity to keep his children’s lives as tech free as possible. And of how the schools in Silicon Valley focus on non-technical hobbies.
It’s fascinating that the very people pushing the products are limiting their own use of them. Surely that’s a wake-up call for the rest of us to take steps to manage when and why we use technology, especially when it comes to children.
Potential and balance
Technology has enormous potential in the education space, when used appropriately.
The team at UKFast are volunteering at a gaming charity in Sale. The charity, Everyone Can, uses technology to build soft and social skills in young people of mixed abilities. The technology includes a range of adapted controllers that enable these young people to play multi-player video games with their peers. The controllers range from adapted buttons, to button-presses controlled by breath and eyesight, and VR experiences. Every ability is catered for.
Chatting with the team, I was told of a family of four siblings, one of whom was unable to join in on fun activities because of their cerebral palsy. Everyone Can gave them the first opportunity to all play together as a family. Equally the skills learned in gaming are transferable to everyday life – as one of the workers there told us, if you can play a game, you can navigate a website to pay bills, to place orders and to be more independent.
Walking into the space, seeing the giant custom-built screens and the children squealing in delight, competing with one another in the games, it’s clear that technology has an incredible power to connect us and help us develop in every way.
Once again, it all comes down to balance; combining the incredible power of technology and connectivity with real-world learning, being active and playing sports, and with having hobbies. Ultimately, it’s down to us to create that balance in our own lives and in those of our children.