14 celebrities who limit their children's screen time and tech use


Serena Williams Alexis Ohanian

  • How much screen time to allow for children is one of the biggest debates of modern parenting.
  • Some famous figures, like Bill Gates, raised their children mostly tech-free. 
  • Other celebrities, like Jennifer Lopez and Angelina Jolie, strictly limit their children’s screen time throughout the week. 
  • Here is how 14 famous people limit their children’s exposure to technology.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

How much screen time to allow for children is one of the biggest debates of modern parenting.

Children under the age of 5 are perhaps more vulnerable to spending excessive time with electronic devices, according to the World Health Organization. The group recently released new guidelines urging parents to refrain from letting their kids watch entertainment via a device but instead encourage active play.

This past May, the American Psychological Association recommended children under 2 avoid screens entirely.

Parents are beginning to catch on, even limiting their own screen time to set an example. 

Some more notable parents, of the celebrity kind, have decided to impose limitations on screen time for their kids, too, or even raise them tech-free. Tech billionaire and cofounder of Microsoft Bill Gates didn’t let his kids use a cell phone until the age of 14, for example, while model Heidi Klum makes sure to approve what her daughter posts on Instagram. 

Here are 14 celebrities who limit technology and screen time for their kids.

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Billionaire and ‘Shark Tank’ star Mark Cuban is as ‘sneaky as [he] can be’ when monitoring the screen time of his three children, according to a 2017 interview.

Cuban uses Cisco routers and management software to control his children’s phone use and see what apps they are using. He even has the ability to shut off use entirely. He also has a policy for Netflix: one hour spent reading means two hours earned to watch Netflix.

His daughter Alexis, 16, and son Jake, 9, are not too fond of his watchful eye over their time spent texting friends or playing video games. Cuban makes Alexis turn off her phone at 10 p.m. every night, and makes Jake do math problems before hopping online to play Minecraft. 

“That’s the downside of having a geeky dad, you know. I can figure all this stuff out,” Cuban said. “I try to stay one step ahead, and it’s good for me, too, because it keeps me abreast of all the new apps and all the new technology.”

Tennis champion Serena Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of Reddit, had their first child in 2017, and already have plans to limit her future screen time.

Ohanian told CNBC last year that although he looks forward to spending quality time with his daughter playing video games down the road, he and Williams “want her to be bored” for now.

“It’s really important that she gets time to just be with her thoughts and be with her blocks and be with her toys, so we’ll be regulating it pretty heavily,” he told CNBC. 

Ohanian is just one of a handful of Silicon Valley tech executives who plan to raise their children away from the devices, apps, and social media platforms they help develop.

Chrissy Teigen, master of the Twitter clapback and author of the cookbook ‘Cravings,’ told Harper’s Bazaar that she and husband John Legend ‘are not those people that are like ‘no screen time!”

Teigen said her 3-year-old daughter Luna often “begs” for her smartphone when she wants to play with a specific app. Teigen then tries to “match that excitement” of the “screaming and begging” while she thinks of  something else to do, “like an art project, a book, or stickers, [then] they forget they even wanted it in the first place.”

Teigen said she likes to download learning activity apps for both Luna and 1-year-old son Miles. 

When the couple travels, however, they tend to be more lax on screen time. 

“There are certain situations, like when you’re on a plane or in a restaurant, where goddammit, it’s going to help those surrounding us,” Teigen said in an August interview.

Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and philanthropist Melinda Gates didn’t allow their three children to have a cellphone until they turned 14 — but even then their use was strictly limited.

“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 told the Mirror in 2017. Gates also said his kids would often complain about how other children were getting phones before them. His youngest, daughter Phoebe, turned 17 this year. 

Gates said he likes to stay on top of his children’s phone use, even putting a ban on phones at the dinner table, but never went as far as keeping track of their Facebook passwords. After his daughter started developing an unhealthy attachment to a video game, the couple started implementing stricter screen time limits. 

“You’re always looking at how it can be used in a great way — homework and staying in touch with friends — and also where it has gotten to excess,” Gates told the Mirror.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News he doesn’t like his daughters, ages 2 and 3, to sit in front of screens ‘for a long time.’

Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan do, however, allow their kids to keep in touch with their grandparents using Facebook’s video chat service Portal. 

“I let my kids use that to communicate with my parents, so they can stay in touch with their grandparents easily, [and] their aunts who live across the country,” he said in October. 

In an interview on Fox News’ “The Daily Briefing,” Zuckerberg cited a study saying that some screen time for children can actually be healthy when used to communicate in moderation.

Even Barack and Michelle Obama kept an eye out for their daughters’ phones at the dinner table.

In 2014, Michelle Obama said she “tries to limit her daughters’ screen time,” according to a New York Times article, but she said she is not always successful since she has to remain constantly connected herself. 

In 2015, Obama, when announcing his “Connect Home” initiative, said, “there’s nothing wrong with every once in a while putting the technology down and actually having a conversation.”

When Sasha and Malia, now 18 and 21, were living in the White House, they had “limited television and screen time — none during the week unless it [was] school-related,” according to Michelle Obama.

As a kid, Kim Kardashian West’s parents set strict rules on her phone use, and now the mother of four is doing the same for her kids.

“I think, especially for kids in their minds — and they’re so fragile and so young — that there has to be rules of maybe not sleeping with the phone right next to you,” Kardashian West said at BeautyCon in 2018.

Kardashian West may seem like she is glued to her phone herself (she makes over six figures per Instagram post), but she makes sure to abide by the same screen-time rules she gives her kids: no phone at bedtime, breakfast, or dinner.

“I want my kids to see the separation and feel the difference, and know that there’s a time and place for that. I’m really cautious when I’m at home, with phones, and I’m super present,” she said at a conference last year. 

Actor and director Angelina Jolie may not have social media herself, but she did hire cybersecurity experts to make sure her six children are safe and protected online.

“It’s so beyond what we understand,” Jolie said about herself and ex-husband Brad Pitt in 2014. “We wouldn’t even know what to look for.”

Both Jolie and Pitt are notoriously absent from Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and plan to be seemingly for good. That’s why the former couple decided to hire a “a cybersecurity team to monitor the internet and social media content that their children … encounter,” according to People. Jolie’s six children range in age from 18 to 11.

Soccer star David Beckham and designer Victoria Beckham want to make sure their children are just as active as their parents, so they impose screen-time limits.

David Beckham said at the Kids’ Choice Sports awards in 2014 that the couple allows “no more than an hour. I know that sounds pretty harsh, but I want my boys to be outside playing.”

Seeing as Beckham is a former pro athlete himself, it makes sense why he encourages his four children, Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz, and Harper, to get outside and play as much as possible. 

“It’s so important to me that they’re involved in sports — for discipline and health,” said Beckham, according to People Magazine.

The London-based family is close-knit, all with splashy social-media presences.

Supermodel and German businesswoman Heidi Klum told People that her four children get most of their screen time when they are on planes. ‘That’s the ultimate iPad time,’ she said.

Klum and her children travel frequently, and sometimes she will get concerned looks from other passengers on planes when they see four children, ages 10 to 15, climb aboard. 

“Normally, there’s a certain amount of time they can play, but when we’re on the airplane, the sky is the limit. By the time we land, they have square eyeballs,” Klum told People in 2018. 

Klum’s eldest daughter, Leni, who has private social media accounts just for friends, shows her mom what photos she wants to post on Instagram before she does it. 

“They’re all getting sexier and sexier, and I feel like there’s a time and place and a certain age group when you can do that for yourself, so sometimes she shows me photos and I’m like, ‘Eh, maybe not that one, show me other photos,'” Klum said. “Even though it’s just her friends, you never know who they could send it to.”

When it comes to royals, Kate Middleton and Prince William do not allow their three children to use an iPad, according to Us Weekly.

A source told the magazine in 2017 that the royals, who both grew up without trendy tech gadgets, prefer their children, George, 6, Charlotte, 4, and Louis, 1, play outdoors and use their imaginations.

Instead of spending collective family time staring at a screen, the royal couple and their children have been seen enjoying gardening and petting zoos, even while traveling abroad.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in an interview with The Guardian that during family vacations, she takes away her children’s phones entirely in an effort to ‘focus on being present.’

The CEO’s five children also don’t spend a lot of time on the platform she heads, often only allowing them access to the YouTube Kids version, according to an interview Wojcicki gave earlier this month.

When it comes to overseeing screen time, Wojcicki is more lenient. Instead of keeping a close watch over each minute spent eyeing a screen, she said she lets her kids create their own “self-control methods.”

“People need to learn when it is a time [to be] focused in the conversation, and when it is OK to go and watch videos or do other activities on the internet,” she told the Guardian.

Former Victoria’s Secret Angel Miranda Kerr and her husband, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, set fairly harsh restrictions on their children’s tech use.

In an interview with the Financial Times last year, Spiegel said he and Kerr limit 8-year-old Flynn’s screen time to 1.5 hours a week. Flynn is Spiegel’s stepson from Kerr’s previous marriage to Orlando Bloom. The couple welcomed daughter Hart Spiegel in 2018. 

Growing up, Spiegel was not allowed to watch TV. But that doesn’t mean his kids won’t have any time with technology. He said he thought his limited access to screens as a kid “was valuable because [he] spent a lot of time just building stuff and reading or whatever” — a lesson he hopes to pass on.

Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez told E! News her kids are only allowed to use their iPads one day a week — and only if they’re good.

“[…] Sunday Funday, they work towards that because they don’t get to use their iPads during the week,” Lopez said in an interview in 2015. “Or play video games or anything because it’s school time. And they have to be good in school and then they get Sunday Funday. It’s something I made up so they could work towards it and behave.”

Lopez said her kids always want to play with their smartphones, but she tries to “regulate it” — until Sunday that is, when she hands off the devices and takes a well-deserved nap.

Lopez’s 11-year-old twins, Emme and Max, also make frequent appearances on their mom’s YouTube channel and Instagram account.