While most young kids and teenagers spend hours upon hours glued to tablets and smartphones, Bill Gates’ children had a markedly different experience growing up. During a recent interview with the Mirror, the former Microsoft CEO said that when his children were growing up, he limited their exposure to the addicting glow of digital screens.
“We often set a time after which there is no screen time and in their case that helps them get to sleep at a reasonable hour,” Gates said. Also interesting is that Gates — whose children currently range in age from 14 to 20 — didn’t even give his kids access to cell phones until they turned 14. And even then, using cell phones while the family was having dinner was expressly prohibited.
“You’re always looking at how [smartphones] can be used in a great way – homework and staying in touch with friends – and also where it has gotten to excess,” Gates added. All that said, it’s hard to feel bad for the Gates children given that Bill Gates — with an estimated net worth of $86.9 billion — is the world’s richest man. And with the Gates children growing up in a house that’s worth upwards of $125 million, I’m sure they’re well acquainted with some of the most luxurious creature comforts the world has to offer.
What we really want to know, though, is if the Gates children were ever granted access to Apple products. If we go back in time a bit, you might recall that Melinda gates back in 2013 made headlines when she said that her children receive Windows products even though they sometimes clamor for Apple devices. “Of course they ask [for Apple products],” Gates said, “but they get Windows technology. The wealth from our family came from Microsoft so why would we invest in a competitor.” A few years earlier, Gates expressed a similar sentiment during an interview with Vogue, noting that her kids were not allowed to use either iPhones or iPods.
It’s actually a brilliant parenting strategy when you think about it. If you’re not allowed to have a smartphone until you’re 14, and if your time on the device is limited once you finally get one, you’ll probably be content with any device you can get your hands on. Alas, the same couldn’t always be said for Melinda Gates who, in the same Vogue interview, said that she sometimes feels pangs of jealousy for iPhone owners.
“Every now and then I look at my friends and say ‘Ooh, I wouldn’t mind having that iPhone’,” Gates said. Of course, given how far iPhone competitors have come since then, we imagine that the Gates family is doing just fine in a presumably Apple-less world.