One of the most unpopular things to do in America today is to say that computers are making us stupid. Would we believe it if Bill Gates said it?
Not long ago Bill Gates visited the former Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Canada and said something rather strange at the press conference standing next to Mr. Harper. There Mr. Gates said this to the press: “My children have limited computer time.” Gates said he and his wife Melinda “decided to set a limit of 45 minutes a day of total screen time for games and one hour a day on weekends, in addition to the time they need for homework. Just because you’re Bill Gates’ son doesn’t mean you can play on your computer all day.” In essence, he actually said, no computers for my kids! He urged us, American parents, to keep our children away from digital gadgets.
The man whose name personifies the computer itself, who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes the computer machine and its glorification, who became one of the richest people in the world selling it, and pushing it, says that his own son “will have limited time on the computer. ” Bill Gates is pushing it day and night and he will not rest until everyone in the world – every man, woman and child – is wired into his computer system and games, day and night. But not for his own children?
One thing that was stranger than what he said was that no one at the press conference asked him why he limited his children’s computer time. What would he say if a reporter just asked, “Mr. Gates, why are you limiting your children’s computer time?” We can only guess what he might say, probably (if we assume total honesty on his part): “Because computers make people stupid. I don’t want my children be stupid.”
Apparently, Dad knows how dangerous the addiction to the computer (or the internet they bring to the user) is: He became a rich man designing, manufacturing and selling them. He wants all children in the world to have access to it and play with it even in their sleep. But not his own children! He doesn’t want his children to depend on computers like other American children.
According to a USA Today report, the average American child, between the ages of 8 and 18, spends about 60 hours per week on electronic devices, as opposed to the five hours that Bill and Melinda Gates allow their children. child a week: That’s 45 minutes a day and an hour on the weekend, that is, 315 minutes a week as opposed to the average American child who spends 3,600 minutes a week, more for 10 times the amount that Gates allows his own children!
Steve Jobs, who rarely saw Bill Gates for anything, shared an important value in child-rearing: Both believed that computers could harm children, especially their own children. The New York Times reported at the time that the Apple boss “didn’t let his kids have iPads and limited their technology consumption,” even though “iPads were flying off the shelves.” Are these two computer giants right about keeping their kids away from computers?
The New York Times provided an answer when it reported that “(E)mployees of Silicon Valley giants such as Google, Apple, eBay, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard send their children to nine classrooms that school here.” What is unique about this school where all the noble and powerful in the world of technology send their children? They don’t allow computers, both on and off campus! Instead of computers, children are reading books! Apparently, these computer dealers know something about how their computers affect children and are determined, as caring parents, to keep them away from computers.
There are other products that are avoided by their own producers. McDonald’s, under pressure to improve employee health insurance costs, told its employees not to eat McDonald’s food because it was “unhealthy.” Instead, it recommends that they eat “healthier” food at its rival Subway. In Oscar Mayer, Bob Drane, the inventor of Lunchables, famous for its lack of nutrition (described in a book, “Salt Sugar Fat”), never allowed his daughter to eat his famous invention even though he was used in an advertisement that served. Other people’s lunches; he, in turn, never allowed his teenage sons to touch the popular junkfood series. Similarly, drug dealers never allow their children to touch what they sell to other American children; nor do they themselves touch the things they push, much like computer gurus, Coca-Cola makers, cigarette manufacturers, etc. push their products to kill us all but they never touch them . I doubt McDonald’s shareholders actually eat its hamburgers. The contempt these high-and-powerful people have for the common citizen-consumers of America is truly astonishing. Even more so when we realize how we have become dumb suckers. In fact, economists widely acknowledge that it is dumb citizens and consumers that sustain America’s capitalist system, which keeps us attractive to consumers and thrives on our stupid political economy.
My wife and I celebrated my birthday the other night by eating out on the town. What if we knew that the restaurant owner and employees refused to eat their own food because it was unhealthy? Or, as you read this column, you learned that the owners of our beloved Gazette forbid their children from “wasting their time” reading the newspaper they own and operate. ?
Jon Huer is a retired professor who lives in Greenfield.