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In a recent interview, Bill Gates, the renowned tech mogul, discussed his approach to managing his children’s use of technology, despite his central role in making it so prevalent.

Gates revealed that he delayed allowing his children to have their own cellphones until they reached the age of 14. He emphasized setting limits on screen time to help maintain healthy sleep habits, a practice that has been integral to their upbringing. Additionally, Gates stressed that cellphones were not allowed at the dinner table but were permissible for educational purposes such as homework.

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Even though his children are now aged 20, 17, and 14—ages where they could conceivably have their own phones—Gates continues to uphold a prohibition on Apple products in their household due to his historical rivalry with Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs.

While Gates’ parenting methods may appear strict to some, there may be wisdom in delaying smartphone ownership for children.

According to a 2016 report titled “Kids & Tech: The Evolution of Today’s Digital Natives,” the average age for a child’s first smartphone is now 10.3 years old. Experts predict this age may decrease further as parents become increasingly fatigued with handing over their devices to their children.

James P. Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, enforces a similar rule in his own home, issuing phones to his children only upon entering high school and demonstrating responsibility. He emphasizes that maturity level is more critical than age.

PBS Parents offers a checklist for parents contemplating giving their child their initial phone, including considerations about the child’s independence, responsibility, and comprehension of limits and consequences.

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