What do techies know that we don’t?

The post I wrote yesterday about how our brains are being flooded with dopamine and how social media and screens are negatively affecting our health, reminded me of a blog post I wrote a few years ago about how the high tech geniuses in the Silicon Valley won’t allow their children to have any screen time at all. Zero. They obviously know something they aren’t telling the rest of us.

brother and sister showing off super powers
Robert and Kat showing off their super powers way before social media.

Here’s what I wrote about Silicon Valley parents a few years ago:

Talk about hypocrites. I read the strangest story about parents who live in the Silicon Valley. They refuse to let their kids see or touch iPhones or any screens of any nature. These are parents who work in the high tech world and themselves use the devices. While they are at work, they hire nannies to shield their kids from the heinous devices they work to create.

Then to even go further, they make nannies sign contracts that they will keep them away from screens. They also hire spies to snoop on their nannies at parks to make sure they don’t cheat and check their phones. Maybe it’s because they understand how miserable the phones are making their lives, that they want to keep their kids’ lives free from tech. Or maybe they know something we don’t about how unhealthy these screens are.

Here are a few excerpts from the article I read in sfgate called Silicon Valley Nannies are Phone Police for Kids:

SAN FRANCISCO — Silicon Valley parents are increasingly obsessed with keeping their children away from screens. Even a little screen time can be so deeply addictive, some parents believe, that it’s best if a child neither touches nor sees any of these glittering rectangles. These particular parents, after all, deeply understand their allure.

But it’s very hard for a working adult in the 21st century to live at home without looking at a phone. And so, as with many aspirations and ideals, it’s easier to hire someone to do this.

Enter the Silicon Valley nanny, who each day returns to the time before screens.

“Usually a day consists of me being allowed to take them to the park, introduce them to card games,” Jordin Altmann, 24, a nanny in San Jose, said of her charges. “Board games are huge.”

“Almost every parent I work for is very strong about the child not having any technical experience at all,” Altmann said. “In the last two years, it’s become a very big deal.”

From Cupertino to San Francisco, a growing consensus has emerged that screen time is bad for kids. It follows that these parents are now asking nannies to keep phones, tablets, computers and TVs off and hidden at all times. Some are even producing no-phone contracts, which guarantee zero unauthorized screen exposure, for their nannies to sign.

The fear of screens has reached the level of panic in Silicon Valley. Vigilantes now post photos to parenting message boards of possible nannies using cellphones near children. Which is to say, the very people building these glowing hyper-stimulating portals have become increasingly terrified of them. And it has put their nannies in a strange position.

“In the last year everything has changed,” said Shannon Zimmerman, a nanny in San Jose who works for families that ban screen time. “Parents are now much more aware of the tech they’re giving their kids. Now it’s like, ‘Oh no, reel it back, reel it back.’ Now the parents will say ‘No screen time at all.’”

The bright side is these parents do care about their kids. They want what is best for them. I wonder if they use their electronics while they are at home? Do they put away the iphones at dinner? Do the parents realize that their kids will model their behavior and learn most from what they do, not what they say?

brother and sister playing cowboy
My cowboys using their imaginations.

Do you think the Silicon Valley parents have known all along how dangerous and addictive screen time is? Or, is it a personal choice not to let their kids on screens? Are they wanting their kids to have the idealized life before computers? Do you or did you limit screen time for your kids?

12 thoughts on “What do techies know that we don’t?

  1. It’s a double edge sword. I think kids today need to be tech savvy. However, I do agree with limits. My daughter has always been pretty good about how much time she spends with tech, so I didn’t have to do much to limit because she did it herself. In high school she used to put her phone on do not disturb for at least three hours when doing homework. But I can’t tell you how I taught her self discipline because I have no idea. Maybe because she saw me limit tech and even today I’m not an idle scroller and I’m not big on social media except my blog, and I set limits on blog time

    • I think you were a role model for your daughter. Plus she is self disciplined. My kids were self disciplined too because they had swim practice for several hours every day — and then homework. They didn’t have time.

      • Simply put…my daughter didn’t have time….there’s this saying that kids have here….if you go to an elite high school…..grades, social life, sleep….pick two…

      • That’s so true. My kids had swimming 2 1/2 to three hours every night. My son had piano and both were at the top of their classes. I think the swim team doubled as a social life.

    • My kids are in their 20s and there was very little tech when they were growing up. My brother gave them a Barney VHS tape that came with a Barney doll that would move and talk to the TV when it got certain signals from the tape. That was it!

  2. I tried to limit screen time with my kids, but by high school, all of their homework was assigned by, completed on, and turned in from their school- distributed chrome books. They had to be on their devices and using the internet for school work and it really frustrated me. I’m sure as time goes on, it will just be more and more that way. My youngest kids -graduated 2017, 2019, 2021 never learned cursive, but they sure know their way around their gadgets!

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