Bill Gates: My kids didn't have cell phones till they were 14

Commentary: In an interview, the Microsoft co-founder says phones still aren't allowed at the dinner table.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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Disciplined about technology.

Johannes Simon, Getty Images

How do you parent in an age when technology is more important to kids than other humans?

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates seems to have taken a stern approach.

In an interview with the Mirror, he revealed: "We didn't give our kids cell phones until they were 14."

Fourteen? Four-teen? Please imagine the cries from most contemporary kids if faced with such harshness. They'd sulk. They'd throw things. They'd refuse to help their parents set up their Galaxy S8s.

Indeed, Gates admitted of his kids: "They complained other kids got them earlier."

His kids are now 20, 17 and 14, so they are presumably all free to glory in the full joys of apps and Snaps. Who knows, though, if they're free to get iPhones? Gates's wife Melinda insisted in 2010 that no Apple products were allowed in the house.

A clue came in 2013, when Bill Gates revealed in 2013 that his kids had never even asked for Apple products.

Even now, though, their mobile freedoms have limitations. Gates told the Mirror: "We don't have cell phones at the table when we are having a meal."

This seems eminently sane. When the art of conversation has been replaced by the art of picking which smiley face to add to your text, you know that civilization is in trouble.

Gates' phone policy is surely a rarity. Go to any family dinner table, restaurant or bar and you'll see many, many people talking, but not talking, as they clutch their phones like Linus clutched his blanket. Family members even text each other when they're in the same house.

But it's all going to be so much better very soon, at least if you believe Facebook. We'll forget our phones entirely. We'll communicate through our glasses instead.

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