Psychologists are quickly learning how dangerous smartphones can be for teenage brains.
Research has found that an eighth-grader’s risk for depression jumps 27 percent when he or she frequently uses social media. Kids who use their phones for at least three hours a day are much more likely to be suicidal. And recent research has found the teen suicide rate in the U.S. now eclipses the homicide rate, with smartphones as the driving force.
But the writing about smartphone risk may have been on the wall for roughly a decade, according to educators Joe Clement and Matt Miles, co-authors of the recent book Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology Overuse is Making Our Kids Dumber.
“What is it these wealthy tech executives know about their own products that their consumers don’t?” the authors wrote. The answer, according to a growing body of evidence, is the addictive power of digital technology.
In 2007, Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, implemented a cap on screen time when his daughter started developing an unhealthy attachment to a video game. He also didn’t let his kids get cell phones until they turned 14. (Today, the average age for a child getting their first phone is 10.)
Jobs, who was the CEO of Apple until his death in 2012, revealed in a 2011 New York Times interview that he prohibited his kids from using the newly-released iPad. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” Jobs told reporter Nick Bilton.
“It’s interesting to think that in a modern public school, where kids are being required to use electronic devices like iPads,” the authors wrote, “Steve Jobs’s kids would be some of the only kids opted out.”
Jobs’s children have finished school, so it’s impossible to know how the late Apple co-founder would have responded to education technology, or “edtech.” But Clement and Miles suggest that if Jobs’s kids had attended the average U.S. school today, they’d have used tech in the classroom far more than they did at home while growing up.