Technology Executives on Tech
A Dark Consensus About Screen and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley, 10/26: “The people who are closest to a thing are often the most wary of it. Technologists know how phones really work, and many have decided they don’t want their own children anywhere near them.
A wariness that has been slowly brewing is turning into a regionwide consensus: The benefits of screens as a learning tool are overblown, and the risks for addiction and stunting development seem high. The debate in Silicon Valley now is about how much exposure to phones is O.K.
“Doing no screen time is almost easier than doing a little,” said Kristin Stecher, a former social computing researcher married to a Facebook engineer. “If my kids do get it at all, they just want it more.”
Silicon Valley Nannies are Phone Police for Kids, 10/26: “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….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…“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.’”
Ms. Zimmerman likes these new rules, which she said harken back to a time when kids behaved better and knew how to play outside.
The people who are closest to tech are the most strict about it at home.””
The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids is Not What We Expected, 10/26/18: “Now, as Silicon Valley’s parents increasingly panic over the impact screens have on their children and move toward screen-free lifestyles, worries over a new digital divide are rising. It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens, while the children of Silicon Valley’s elite will be going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction. In Silicon Valley, some feel anxious about the growing class divide they see around screen-time.
Kirstin Stecher and her husband, who works as an engineer at Facebook, are raising their kids almost completely screen-free.
“Is this coming from a place of information — like, we know a lot about these screens,” she said. “Or is it coming from a place of privilege, that we don’t need them as badly?”
“There’s a message out there that your child is going to be crippled and in a different dimension if they’re not on the screen,” said Pierre Laurent, a former Microsoft and Intel executive now on the board of trustees at Silicon Valley’s Waldorf School. “That message doesn’t play as well in this part of the world.”
Taken from Richard Freed's article: The Tech Industry's War on Kids, 3/11/18: Tristan Harris, formerly a design ethicist at Google, has led the way by unmasking the industry’s use of persuasive design. Interviewed in The Economist’s 1843 magazine, he says, “The job of these companies is to hook people, and they do that by hijacking our psychological vulnerabilities.”
Another tech exec raising red flags about the tech industry’s use of mind manipulation is former Facebook president Sean Parker. Interviewed in Axios, he discloses: “The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them… was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’” He also said that Facebook exploits “vulnerability in human psychology” and remarked, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
Marc Benioff, CEO of the cloud computing company Salesforce, is one of the voices calling for the regulation of social media companies because of their potential to addict children. He says that just as the cigarette industry has been regulated, so too should social media companies. “I think that, for sure, technology has addictive qualities that we have to address, and that product designers are working to make those products more addictive, and we need to rein that back as much as possible,” Benioff told CNBC in January, 2018, while in Davos, Switzerland, site of the World Economic Forum.
As Ramsay Brown, neuroscientist and co-founder of the artificial intelligence company Boundless Mind says (in “Time”), “Your kid is not weak-willed because he can’t get off his phone… Your kid’s brain is being engineered to get him to stay on his phone.”