- Apple CEO Tim Cook on Friday spoke about technology overuse, saying he wouldn’t allow his nephew to use social networks.
- Cook is the latest in a long line of executives and others in the tech industry who have raised concerns about the downsides of technology products and services.
- A former Facebook executive recently said social media was “destroying how society works,” and an inventor of the iPhone said Apple and other tech firms needed to do more to address the concerns.
Add Apple CEO Tim Cook to the list of tech luminaries warning about the potential risks of modern technology.
Speaking at a school in England on Friday, Cook said he didn’t want his nephew to use social media, according to The Guardian. He also argued that the use of tech in schools should be limited.
“I don’t have a kid, but I have a nephew that I put some boundaries on,” Cook said, according to The Guardian. “There are some things that I won’t allow; I don’t want them on a social network.”
He said he didn’t believe in overuse of technology, adding: “I’m not a person that says we’ve achieved success if you’re using it all the time … I don’t subscribe to that at all.”
And while technology companies such as Apple have for years pushed their products on schools, Cook acknowledged that sometimes an iPad is inappropriate in the classroom.
“There are still concepts that you want to talk about and understand,” he said, according to the Guardian report. “In a course on literature, do I think you should use technology a lot? Probably not.”
The tech industry is getting worried about what it has built
In recent months, numerous executives and others in the tech industry have expressed concerns about the effect of technology on society and human minds.
Research has pointed to links between mental health and tech usage. Recent studies have found that children who use smartphones for three hours a day or more are much more likely to be suicidal, and that frequent social-media use increased the risk of depression by 27% among eighth-graders.
Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, has charged that social networks are exploiting human “vulnerability,” saying: “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
- Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch
Chamath Palihapitiya, another former Facebook executive, said late last year that social media was “destroying how society works,” adding that he felt “tremendous guilt” for what he helped make.
“In the back, deep, deep recesses of our mind, we kind of knew something bad could happen,” Palihapitiya said, though he later walked back parts of his remarks after they attracted significant international media attention.
And Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook and Google, has been increasingly vocal in his criticism of those companies.
“The people who run Facebook and Google are good people whose well-intentioned strategies have led to horrific unintended consequences,” he told The Guardian in October.
He added: “The problem is that there is nothing the companies can do to address the harm unless they abandon their current advertising models.”
Apple is drawing scrutiny
After two major shareholders publicly raised concerns about iPhone addiction among kids, the company promised to introduce features to help combat the issue.
Meanwhile, Tony Fadell, a creator of the iPod and iPhone, lumped Apple in with other tech giants when he said the industry wasn’t doing enough to tackle tech addiction.
“Apple Watches, Google Phones, Facebook, Twitter – they’ve gotten so good at getting us to go for another click, another dopamine hit,” he said in a tweet. “They now have a responsibility & need to start helping us track & manage our digital addictions across all usages – phone, laptop, TV, etc.”
Cook’s steps to limit his nephew’s use of technology resemble those of other tech executives. The Microsoft mogul Bill Gates said he capped his daughter’s screen time and refused to let his children get smartphones until they were 14. And Steve Jobs, Cook’s predecessor as CEO of Apple, said right after the release of the iPad in 2010 that he had barred his kids from using it.
“We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” he said.