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'Godmother of Silicon Valley' on curbing kids' screen time

Lara O'Reilly
Executive Producer

When your toddler is throwing a tantrum, it’s often easy to lunge for the iPad in an attempt to quickly placate them.

But Esther Wojcicki, the mother of three highly successful women and an educator for more than 35 years, recommends children under the age of five should have little or no screen time.

Speaking on Yahoo Finance UK’s Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded show, Wojcicki said, “I think parents that are giving their kids an iPad or a phone or something else just as a babysitter, what you are doing is you’re training that child to use that iPad whenever they are bored.

Watch the full Esther Wojcicki Global Change Agents interview here

“Boredom is part of life, that’s where creativity comes, so if you’re giving your child an iPad or a phone, just limit it [to] a small amount of time — and if they are upset, they have to learn to get along in life without just running and looking for an electronic device.”

She also advised parents limit their own screen time in front of their children.

“I think you need to model for your child the kind of behaviour you want that child to do — children do what they see you do, not what you say,” Wojcicki said.

Esther Wojcicki (right) appeared on Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded. Photo: Yahoo Finance UK

Wojcicki is often dubbed the “Godmother of Silicon Valley,” having raised two tech CEOs — YouTube’s chief executive, Susan, and 23andMe CEO Anne — and founded the highly successful Palo Alto High School Media Arts programme. So it’s no surprise she is a strong proponent for using technology in learning.

Still, she said parents and children need to come to an agreement on how long is being spent in front of a screen, so both parties can curate that time effectively.

“They need to set up a collaboration,” Wojcicki said. “[Parents should say,] we know how many hours there are in a day, how many things we want to do in a day. Why don’t we figure this out? I will help you figure out for one hour, you can figure out what you want to do, and another hour it’s going to be something I suggest.”

Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded explores the stories of some of the most inspirational women across business, tech, and academia. Catch up on all the latest episodes here.