In Silicon Valley, California's technology mecca, parents are increasingly obsessed with keeping their children away from the screens. Some believe that even a very short period of time in front of the screen is capable of generating an addition and, therefore, it is advisable that children do not touch or ever see any of these small rectangular and bright objects. At the same time, it is very difficult for any adult who works in the 21st century to be home without looking at the telephone or the computer. For many, then, the easiest thing is to hire someone to take care of this job.
This is the case of Jordin Altmann, a 24-year-old nanny from San José, who every day who cares for a child returns to a world that prepares them. "In a normal day I can take them to the park or teach them to play cards," he says. "Almost all the parents I know are very strict and they do not allow their children to have any technological experience," explains Altmann. "In the last two years, this has become a big issue", adds the caretaker.
In this region of San Francisco Bay, the technological center of the development and business headquarters of companies such as Apple or Google, there has been a growing consensus among parents: it is harmful for children to see a screen. That's why parents ask the babysitters to hide their phones, televisions, tablets and computers at all times. Some have even made contracts for nannies to commit to not using their own cellphone because the children's exposure to any screen is invalid.
Mothers in the spotlight
The fear has been transformed into panic in Silicon Valley. Watchmen have appeared everywhere they publish photos in virtual forums of parents of possible babysitters using the mobile phone near the children. This has put nannies in a strange situation. "Over the last year everything has changed," says Shannon Zimmerman, a babysitter from San José who works for families that prohibit screens. "Now parents are much more aware of the technology they put within their children's reach. It has gone from allowing sporadic use of the screens to not tolerate that they can never be seen. "
Zimmerman likes these rules because, he says, they bring the children back to a time when they behave better and knew how to play outdoors. In spite of that, you need, parents are very hard to comply with these rules. "Most of them come home and are still hooked on the phones and they do not listen to what children are saying," Zimmerman explains.
Currently, according to the nanny's agencies in the region, there are more and more parents who ask kangaroos to sign these clauses that veto phones. "Those closest to technology are the ones who are stricter at home," says Lynn Perkins, director of Urban Sitter, a network with more than 500,000 babysitters covering all of the United States. "We look closely at this tendency in the experience of our workers," he says.
"We are writing the agreements in a different way than we have done so far to include the technology clauses," explains Julie Swales of the Elizabeth Rose agency. However, they are the same parents who often want them to know about the child during the day. "If they answer to the telephone, badly; if not, too, "Regrets Swales.
Technologists do not want their children to use the devices they create
The people closest to a situation are often the worst. Technologists know how mobiles really work and have decided they do not want their children to come close to it. This concern has gradually become a consensus throughout the Silicon Valley region: the screens are bad for children, their benefits as a tool of learning have been exaggerated and the dangers of addiction and dangers. Hindrance to cognitive development is high. Now the debate in this sector focuses on clarifying the level of exposure that is appropriate.
"When they do not spend much time in front of a screen it is easier than when they only pass a little," explains Kristin Stecher, a social media researcher married to a Facebook engineer. If we leave a margin of time for our kids, they only want more and more. "
After an investigation into the time of use of the devices, Stecher and her husband came to a conclusion: they wanted no use at home. Their daughters, 5 and 3, can only use them on long trips by car or plane, but never when they are at home.
For those who are considered leaders in technology this is the time of truth in their work: see how the tools they build cause an impact on their children. One of them is Chris Anderson, ex-editor of the specialized magazine Wired and now director of a robotic and drones company. "On a scale between candy and cocaine they are more like drugs," says Anderson on the screens.
"We thought we could control it, but that is beyond our power. These technologies go directly to brain development centers of development, "Anderson argues.
This is not a new idea in Silicon Valley. Some of the great creators of the Californian technology leap were already combining it. Bill Gates banned mobiles to their children until they were teenagers. Steve Jobs did not let his children get closer to iPads, created by their own company.