The company whose products have won over 1/5 of us worldwide, now has this to say about how we're spending our time with tech:
Less is more.
Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke out on the relationship between tech and kids in a recent GQ interview.
His take probably won't send shockwaves through the K-12 market.
But it got me thinking about how edtech companies have the potential to win over buyers by taking a similar position on tech:
Less is more?
Acknowledge the elephant in the room
The man running the most valuable company in the world isn't afraid to publicly distance himself from the tools that built the brand's worth.
Cook shared that Apple doesn't want users to become addicted to their products and that the company wouldn't gain anything from this.
Then I realized. Messaging isn't always about aggressively getting your target audience to use more of what you're selling.
Maybe edtech can lean into doing less. Especially supplemental products.
Leaders should show, not tell how they live out their company's beliefs
Tim Cook shows and doesn't tell.
His position on tech and kids isn't filled with empty words about empathizing with people who are glued to their phones.
Cook has a history of showing how an online-offline balance is a lifestyle he's created for himself and his family, from speaking out against his nephew using social media, to more recently admitting he'd rather get lost in nature than on a device.
I started cycling and hiking, and then I moved to California and it’s like, you can hike so many different places here. It’s almost a sin not to go out and enjoy it.
We'll never know if Cook truly lives out the online-offline balance he claims to have in Palo Alto. But don't his talking points make you want to believe him?
Edtech leaders can adopt a similar approach to connect with people who follow their work:
Share personal stories that lean into the "less is more" philosophy
Advocate on behalf of their companies through these stories
If you've won people over with your POV on the relationship between tech and kids, you might have an easier time then making your edtech product shine.
Online learning is everywhere: Offer something unique
Tim Cook wants kids to use less tech during school. He went so far as to call out his own company's iPads as sometimes inappropriately used in the classroom.
Kids are born digital, they’re digital kids now. And it is, I think, really important to set some hard rails around it. We make technology to empower people to be able to do things they couldn’t do, to create things they couldn’t create, to learn things they couldn’t learn.
We have to take Apple's advice with a grain of salt.
Will kids using less tech in school negatively dent this business? It seems they're almost guaranteed to plug back into their devices as soon as the final bell lets out anyways.
Still, the edtech industry can see Cook's message as an attack on their livelihood, or as a fresh lens to market the intentionality behind our products and platforms.
Here's what I mean:
Maybe it's okay to acknowledge that our users aren't going to spend their every waking moment learning online.
So when they do, they're taking part in a learning experience that's special. And hopefully, it's one you're creating or supporting.
Online platforms can embrace expanding offline activities
Strong messaging is supported by strong products.
In Tim Cook's case, his message on balancing time spent online and offline aligns with functions in Apple products:
We try to get people tools in order to help them put the phone down. Because my philosophy is, if you’re looking at the phone more than you’re looking in somebody’s eyes, you’re doing the wrong thing. So we do things like Screen Time. I don’t know about you, but I pretty religiously look at my report.
When I was a kid, I preferred paper books to a Kindle. But did that negatively impact my relationship with edtech? (See if you got the right answer here).
Branding can creatively market healthy relationships between kids and tech.
Channel your edtech kid to set edtech boundaries
Loving the edtech industry and the many groups of people it supports doesn't mean it should consume your thoughts.
I once read that 30% of the content you read should be completely unrelated to your field of expertise.
Are you willing to stretch your relationship with edtech to create balance?
Maybe you're done with work for the day, and finished catching up on the most recent edition of the Channel Your Edtech Kid newsletter, try swapping out more industry news with different content.