President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama have strict policies when it comes to technology. Not only do the parents of two not allow their daughters to watch television during the week, but they also prohibit leisure Internet use.
In a recent interview with The Stir , Michelle said, “We have rules about [technology]. The girls have limited television and screen time — none during the week unless it’s school-related, because now kids are doing these — they video chat study groups. And when they’re doing that, I always go in their room to make sure they’re actually talking about school … Kids, instead of how we used to call on the phone and talk about homework, they get on the computer now and chat. So I don’t want to interfere with that, so I monitor with the teacher to make sure that the kids who were studying together are actually — that then they’re studying in a way that’s helpful.”
Michelle tried to be generous with the television before completely barring Sasha and Malia from weekday views but that plan failed miserably when the girls learned how to cheat the system. “I tried this thing where they can earn an hour during the week if they got everything done.” Michelle says, “But what was happening is that they’d claim their hour on Monday. And I’m like, why are you watching TV on Monday? Well, I was like, you’re supposed to earn that hour. So I just said forget that. So the sort of incentive model didn’t work. And then they get two hours Friday, three Saturday, two Sunday.”
Although Sasha and Malia watch television on the weekends, such viewings are privileges and not rights. As the First Lady explains, “If something hasn’t gotten done, all that is gone. I mean, as I tell my kids, the computer and the TV mean nothing to us. So that’s the first thing that goes, is you just don’t need any of that. So this — they know that this is a privilege that we don’t value deeply. So it will be taken away very quickly and happily. Give us an excuse to take it away. And it will be taken away. At the drop of a hat — you look funny, you’re unhappy, you’re whining a little bit too much. That’s the first thing that goes. Right, don’t roll your eyes.”