An Open Letter to Big Tech From an Outraged Parent

Let me articulate my rage.

Even as a literal expert in this field, it feels like I am holding back a tsunami with sandbags.

But it is children who will suffer. There is no question that today’s Big Tech is in many ways a repeat of yesterday’s Big Tobacco.

  • One dad told me a “random YouTuber has more influence” on his kid than he does.
  • One mom told me her 6-year-old hates going to the playground (the playground!) because he’d rather play on his iPad.
  • Another parent told me she stays up until 2 AM checking her daughter’s social media pages, because her child has already been hospitalized for an eating disorder and self-harming behaviors and she can’t bear to go through that fight again.
  • A teacher described how after remote learning, as she checked back in all the school-issued devices, the amount of porn she found downloaded on them was astonishing.
  • Another parent said her child’s school told her she “has” to buy him a phone…for school.
  • Another parent said that when her first-grader– a six-year-old– found a way to access porn on his school-issued iPad, the district blamed his parents.

Before you argue “this is a parenting problem” just like you tried to do in the Congressional hearings this past fall, let me highlight a few key points for those who might not be aware of what you’re doing:

You then put the onus of managing devices onto parents, without accepting or acknowledging how complicated these dynamics have become: screentime is not all created equal, and now, post-remote learning, schools have invested millions of dollars in your products that they cannot or will not walk away from.

We don’t need “parental controls.” We need products designed with children’s best interests at heart. And we need to stop encouraging and incentivizing schools and families to provide them for their children.

Because this is not a fair fight. And you are responsible for starting it.

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Emily is a speaker, writer, consultant, and parent of two. A former middle school teacher, she is now the founder and owner of The Screentime Consultant.

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Emily Cherkin

Emily Cherkin

Emily is a speaker, writer, consultant, and parent of two. A former middle school teacher, she is now the founder and owner of The Screentime Consultant.

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