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Steve Jobs Was A Luddite. . .And If You Have Kids You Should Be Too

October 6, 2014

a member of any of the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton and woolen mills, that they believed was threatening their jobs (1811–16).
a person opposed to increased industrialization or new technology.

I didn’t realize I was in such good company. I wasn’t trying to make a statement or anything it just seemed like the right thing to do.

No, you may not have an iPod until you are at least 13 and you pay for it yourself. And I get to lock it down and keep the password. And you can only use it for an hour per day. And you have to turn it in every night.

The rules closely matched our computer rules.

All computers have passwords that kids don’t know.
Kids get 20 minutes per day of non-school work time.
Computers are in the family room with the screens facing the middle of the room

I have nine computers in my house, including my own file server and a dedicated firewall server. And my kids have to ask permission every time they want to use one. My kids are between the ages of 11 and 14. None of them have their own computer. A few have shelled out the money for iPods, but the iPods are locked down pretty tight.

They are only allowed to install apps when I specifically unlock the ability. And even then, we use my Apple ID. That means that anything they install appears on my iPad.

My kids are convinced that we are way too restrictive. By “we” I mean my lovely wife and myself. We’ve both been involved in the computer industry for 25+ years.

We really don’t care.

Our kids tell us that their friends, ALL their friends have more computer freedom than they have.

We really don’t care.

Recently I discovered that our approach to technology was not unique. I was reading a story about Steve Jobs. A reporter asked him,

Your kids must really love the iPad.

They’ve never used it. We limit their exposure to technology.

Wow. Steve Jobs didn’t let his kids have iPads? How much must THAT have stunk for his kids at school.

Hey, I just got the new iPad. Tell your dad it’s AWESOME!


The article went on to talk about other technology executives who limited the amount of exposure their kids had to technology. Their reasons matched up very closely with my own reasons. I understand how dangerous this stuff can be.

I don’t just mean pornography and chat rooms, and those are very real dangers. But, the fact that computers tend to stifle creativity and imagination.

I came home from work last week and there were 12 kids in my yard. Less than half were mine. They were playing a weird version of baseball/tennis/soccer. I didn’t get the actual rules, but there seemed to definitely be a rule book.

My kids would like nothing better than to get to sit in front of a computer all day and play games. But, I figure that’s why they have parents. It’s my job to understand what their needs are and then make sure those needs get met.

And sometimes you meet those needs as much by what you don’t give them as by what you do. It’s kind of cool to realize that men who understand technology better than I do came to the same realization.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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  1. But did Steve ever commit sabotage? (You probably know that a sabot is the old french wooden shoe that factory workers would stick in the machinery to protest unreasonable conditions.)

  2. I tried to work that in, but couldn’t make it fit. I always thought I was just being really hard on my kids. It was amazing to read about some of the best and the brightest shielding their kids from technology.

    Like an actress who doesn’t want her kids to go into the business.

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