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Elisabeth Röhm on Steve Jobs: How He Changed the Way Kids Learn

10/06/2011 at 01:00 PM ET
Courtesy Elisabeth Röhm; Inset: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Dear Steve Jobs,

I’m sending this to wherever you’ve gone…

Our hearts broke at the news last evening and our world will never be the same. For all that you brought to us and all that we will never know because of your passing, I thought I’d show you a picture of my daughter Easton with her trusty iPad. It changed our lives and opened her mind and imagination to possibility.

At first, I was scared when I received the iPad as a gift — the technically-challenged are always the most resistant. Not Easton though. She seemed to speak your language right off the bat.

Actually, all the children seem to grasp your vision with ease. She showed me the light and the way into your world … or at least the one we were privileged to benefit from. Together we have grown closer through learning, interacting and being entertained by your inventions.

I’ll venture to say we may even be the most popular house in Venice, Calif., because of Easton’s iPad. Oftentimes, we’ll hear her friends chant — almost in unison — upon seeing us at school or in the neighborhood, “I want to play with Easton’s iPad, Mommy!”

They are crazy about you, Steve! All because of the exposure to the tremendous world of knowledge and imagination that you’ve put at their fingertips. You’ve empowered them to learn because they want to and not because we are telling them to. Not to mention they are able to move through your world far better than we ever could, and with a familiarity that’s brilliant.

I’ll often see a pair of noses hovering above the iPad, absorbed in all that you took the time to create, whether it is the universe of books, languages, art, media or music. Easton has already learned bits of French, Spanish and Chinese, discovered what media is through the expansive art programs, read from the library of available books, developed her recognition skills, identified words and become more confident about letters and numbers.

Her mind has blossomed. She is light-years ahead of who I was at 3½. And despite my initial inability to be graceful and skilled in the world of technology, I too have overcome what intimated me through Easton and her iPad.

Your suffering pained us, and we are praying for you and your family at this difficult time.

Elisabeth Röhm is best known for her role on Law & Order and is currently appearing in the thriller Abduction.

MORE ON STEVE JOBS:
PHOTOS: Real Fan Tributes Around the World
His Private Struggle Against Pancreatic Cancer

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Showing 34 comments

Amy on

What a kind and thoughtful letter. I have always enjoyed her posts – thanks for sharing this.

fanofboardwalkempire on

That is such a beautiful letter. Thank you Elisabeth. We will all miss Steve Jobs and my heart goes out to his family during this time of great loss and sadness.

Mandy on

What a sweet letter – and so appropriate to what I think Steve’s vision was – not to make a “babysitter,” but to show our children how technology and innovation can change their world and the way they learn. Thank you, Elisabeth, for sharing such a sweet glimpse into your family. Steve, may you rest knowing that you’ve touched so many…

J9 on

I have a seven year old son who is hearing impaired and has autism.

The iPad, iPod, iPhone has not only given him a voice, provided him with a tool to connect to the world around him but most importantly connected him to his younger sisters with the interest in technology they all share and relate to.

I am forever humbled and grateful to Steve Jobs for making all this possible.

Allison on

I appreciate the sweet sentiment of this letter, and I agree that Jobs was a genius. He was and he has made some amazing contributions to technology and life as we know it (and the prior comment about how the ipad has helped someone’s hearing-impared child is heartwarming). But to suggest that a $500+ personal device has transformed the life of the average child just shows what an affluent bubble you live in. Where in the world do you go from there, when your child already has something so extravagant at age three? Her own iphone at age 5? big screen tv and every gaming device known to man in her room by age 10? I mean, you are rich, clearly, and that is fine if you (or whoever gave the gift) wants to indulge yoru child, but please keep in mind that normal everyday people don’t have access to such expensive ‘toys’ and probably wouldn’t even dream of giving one to a toddler even if they could. This just strikes me as one of those ‘let them eat cake’ kind of attitudes. You are going to alienate yourself from your readers if you don’t recognize that discussing the extravagances in your daughter’s life becomes cringeworthy at some point.

Anonymous on

Beautifully written. As i sit here writing this on my brand new MacBook Pro, I cannot thank you enough, Steve, for your significant and meaningful contributions to the world. My thoughts and prayers are with those who loved you the most during this difficult time.

ForeverMoore on

Beautifully written! He truly was an innovator, a mind way before his time…like my husband said, he was to Apple what Walt was to Disney. That entrenched, that significant. The world lost a brilliant spirit yesterday…saw a post from someone that said “Steve, make Heaven as cool as you did this Earth”, I had to laugh at that ’cause he probably will!

turtlelane on

This is a lovely tribute to a great man–but let’s not forget that little ones need grounding in real life before they can understand the virtual world. What does it mean to look at a picture of something and “recognize” it if you haven’t encountered it in real life? I wonder if we mistake kids’ ability to imitate what they hear for knowledge. It’s not the same, and time in front of the screen easily eats up time that our kids can be playing, exploring, and relating. They can use computers for the rest of their lives, but the foundation of childhood experience, that can’t be gotten later.

lola on

may god bless steve jobs and may he rest in peace. but honestly, he was a ceo and invented toys…there are scientists working quietly to find cures and help people that we will never know of or mourn for their better and bigger contributions.

i don’t get all the hype, and rohm’s blog post is silly.

imho.

Ali on

I have an iPad 2 that i bought. It is the best investment I have ever made. My 2 year old daughter just loves it. Especially the interactive Sesame Street books, and the other educational games that are on it. She is disabled and it has helped her so much. Thank you Steve for helping to better my daughter’s life. She loves the iPad just as much as I do.

Gigi on

Beautiful tribute!!

Megan on

I’m pretty technologically-challenged myself but even I can appreciate the innovations Steve Jobs made.

Also just wanted to note that this isn’t one of Elisabeth’s blog posts, it’s a tribute on their Steve Jobs page but they just have the traffic directing here. Looks like Pete Wentz wrote one too:

http://www.people.com/people/package/article/0,,20534714_20535081,00.html

Very nice. Now is anyone else getting up at 3 am for an iPhone 4S? My crazy husband is. *rolls eyes*

Canada on

I’m a normal, every day person and I have an iPad that my three young children use. I’m a teacher and felt like this would be a valuable tool. I just prioritize my spending and don’t waste money on other things.

Great letter Elisabeth!

ecl on

“Real outpourings of public grief should be reserved for those people who lived life so heroically and selflessly that they stand as shining examples of love for all of humanity. People like, for example, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who—along with his family—was bombed, beaten, and stabbed during his years of principled activism in the US civil rights movement. Shuttlesworth died yesterday, the same day as Steve Jobs. He did not die a billionaire.”

From – http://gawker.com/5847338/steve-jobs-was-not-god

Just a little perspective.

Belle on

I am sorry we lost Steve Jobs.

That having been said, I agree with the others who view this blog post as silly, and out of touch with reality. Read some child development books: the ipad, the computer, the TV……none of these are terribly high on the list of developmental “musts” tools for children. While they ARE useful, and certainly have their place, they should remain IN their place. Whoever posted that seeing it on a screen does not support a good developmental model of experience is correct. But that’s just my 2c, obviously those are your kids….not mine.

Terri on

I am brought to tears by the tenderness of this letter. How truly sweet.

Crissy on

It was very kind of you to put such thought and feeling into your letter. Very well-written.

Lowo on

I have a 4-year-old son and he just yesterday jumped on the screen of my husband’s iPad and cracked it. It was fun and nice while it lasted. He will not be getting to use it again until he’s a bit older. I should never have let him use it on the floor. Taking it in for repairs. cha-ching.

Toya L. on

Yawn! I think the post is nice, even though I choose to raise my children different, doesn’t make my parenting choices right or hers silly, just different.

I’ve read lots of comments regarding Steve’s death. Whether someone believe others have “contributed more important things in life” doesn’t negate the fact that he made history through his contributions to society too.

His life was as important to his family, friends, peers, strangers etc… as Princess Di, M.L.K., Ben Franklin, Jane Doe a prostitute, John Doe a drug addict, my grandma etc… and people should be able to praise and mourn him or whomever they want without criticism for doing so and not doing or feeling the same way for others!

R.I.P. Steve thanks for your contribution to society.

Jay on

I absolutely knew as i read this post that there would be a bunch of idiots that, instead of taking it as the tribute it was meant to be, would turn it into a soapbox for them to stand on.

Congrats, vultures, you did it again.

Jesse on

Hey Alison my friend had a young son who was in the hospital awaiting a heart transplant and to help him pass the time away they bought him an ipad, was his family in “affluent bubble” as you put it?

It brought him hours and hours of joy and fun and helped him to pass the time away for his 3 months in the hospital. And now that he has passed away while waiting for that heart, it helps his sister feel close to her brother.

I wonder how miserable a person has to be to take a sweet, loving, heartfelt letter and make something negative out of it. I hope you find the help you need.

heather on

i find it hard to believe that no one else in Venice, CA has an iPad.

Carrie on

To those who say that we don’t celebrate scientists who pass, I agree that that is often a shame. I was personally very irritated with the fact that he stated over and over again he would not give to charitable organizations, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that he changed the basis of nearly every industry. I honestly cannot think of an industry that does not use either an iPad/tablet or iPhone/smartphone, they have become tools that enable everyone, including those scientists working on cancer research to work more efficiently.

Lena on

Jay, That’s because it read more like prosthelytizing than a tribute. Some people act like Apple is a religion. There are plenty of good ways to teach and entertain your children other than sitting them down in front of a $500 electronic device. Also, keep in mind that Apple now has a marketing campaign that is focused on getting children to use the Ipad instead of reading actual books.

Also, perhaps this doesn’t concern most parents, but giving your child ipads, laptops, iphones, and wi-fi etc increases the amount of radation and EMFs they are exposed to. Over the past 35 years, the incidence of childhood brain tumors has risen 35%. Childhood lukemia and cancer are also on the rise.

We can debate what the culprit of this increase is, but technological devices should not be overlooked. While you may think you are giving your child an edge by buying them these gadgets, you may in fact be exposing them to higher risks of cancer at an early age.

Monie on

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Allison is bitter. LOL! I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but laugh at Allson’s comment, because its obviously just a bitter rant from a bitter person.

I’m sorry, but this is 2011. We’re by no means rich, but my two year old daughter has one as well. We’ve come LIGHTYEARS from when I was a kid, and my daughter has the world at her finger tips already. She does puzzles, reads picture books, and can recite poems she’s learned by using her ipad.

Seriously, get a better job or something, Allison, and stop begrudging others who can afford more than you.

molly on

While I don’t have a problem with a 3 1/2 year old using an ipad, I do think it’s excessive that she has her own. I’m 32 years old and would love to have one, but I don’t. While it’s none of our business what Elisabeth spends her money on, I do think this post did come off a bit elitist.

To Jesse, your friend’s situation is completely different, and not point that was trying to be made.

AshleyB on

One of the first things Elisabeth wrote was that it was a GIFT that she didn’t use, so she let Easton use it. And I don’t think this is her regular blog because it is a totally different format than usual. Just seems like a nice tribute.

My husband has an iPad for work and we have some kids apps downloaded on it. It’s wonderful for keeping them quiet in the car. I keep my calendar and theirs organized on my iPhone. We use an iMac at home. We aren’t well off by any means – the gadgets we do have have been holiday and birthday gifts, and my husband’s employer provides the iPad – but we prefer Apple products. I just find them extremely easy to use.

ForeverMoore on

@Megan, yup my husband was up pre-ordering his iPhone (but we are on the West coast so midnight was not so crazy!)

showbizmom on

@Toya L. Well Said. Lovely words. Thank you for that.

@ Carrie Steve Jobs did donate in his personal life, and Apple Inc did donate money to fight Prop 8 here in California. As a company as a whole, no it’s not a company that’s known to donate money but they do tons and tons for schools and other organizations under the radar. I know this because I went to Steve Job’s High School in Cupertino and know first hand what Apple Inc did for schools. Also Apple employee’s donate a lot of their time and money to various organizations. Once again I know this, because I’ve worked for Apple and know how generous Apple Employee’s are.

Us Mac users love the products because we love design and technology. They call us a cult, and elitist, well maybe some are but most just love computers. The same way some PC users are. I love a good book and love that my girls love books, but they also love their Ipad. I love it for what I’ve seen it do for kids with disabilities and how Apple products have connected me to friends and family all over the globe. Also how it’s made work easier! No we shouldn’t totally leave books behind, but we should embrace what technical advances are coming our way and that are here.

Steve Jobs was an inventor and innovator, say what you will about the company and some of it’s practices, but the fact of the matter is Apple Inc and Steve Jobs and many others have done amazing things and have changed the way we communicate, the way we make movies, the way we learn and the way we grow. I appreciate all he’s done. I’m a Mac!

annie on

I agree with the others. The lose of Steve Jobs is sad and it is lovely that people are taking the time to thank him for the impact that he’s had on their lives but I think this post is silly. No, I’m not jealous, I have an iPad and I love it. But, I feel bad for these kids who are being so sucked into a world of television, iphones, ipads, etc. that they’ve missed out on the big beautiful world. Nothing makes me sadder than seeing a parent or family sitting in a restaurant or out somewhere with each on their own device rather than sitting and talking. For Ms. Rohm to glorify her daughter’s use of the iPad like this strikes me as just as sad.

Erika on

The ipad is an amazing tool. I am a college student, and I bring it to school instead of bringing my laptop or notebooks. Most of my textbooks are on there. I have my whole schedule on there all of my notes from class. This is great invention and has really made life much easier for me.

However, it is a very expensive ‘toy’ and I would not buy it just for a child to use as one. Some of the apps are educational, but I would never give my future child their own ipad just for those apps- if I wanted them to have access to those, I would buy one for the whole family and let them play with it on occasion. No child, especially a 3 year old, needs their own $500+ tablet computer. Some of the games may be fun, but I would never spend that kind of money just for them to play the games when there are so many other toys to play with.

Now J9 mentioned that it helped her son communicate because of deafness- that is different. That is serving a purpose much further than a regular toy would. *That* is the perfect example of how the ipad can be life changing, not acting as a source of entertainment to a 3 year old so their parents don’t have to entertain them.

I did like the letter though and thought it was heartfelt and sincere. I agree with many of the points, I just don’t think a toddler needs their own $500 tablet computer, unless there is another medical or developmental issue.

Jillian on

How many of you read the article???? She said clearly that she, elisabeth, got the ipad as a gift and has given it to her daughter. Not sure why so many are confused.

We have two. Our children use them all the time to read, watch movies, games, etc. I wouldn’t buy one for them but when we get the iPad2, the two we have will become theirs….no reason not to. I see no downside.

Annie, just bc Easton or children use an iPad doesn’t mean they are missing out on the world. Not even sure how you would conclude that….

Sun on

Sheesh, the amount of bitter people out there who are ready to pounce with criticism, never ceases to amaze me.

Allison on

In defense of the people being critical of this post, maybe part of the problem is the stupid title PEOPLE put on the post?? To say something like the ipad ‘changed the way kids learn’ is a really grandiose and overreaching statement, and maybe that is part of what people are reacting to negatively. If somebody thinks ipads have fundamentally changed the way children learn, then that strikes me as pretentious. Sure, some kids have access to an ipad and they are great devices, but until something is accessible by everyone there is no need to make crazy headlines like that. So maybe it wasn’t Elisabeth who said that, and maybe some of the posters here have misunderstood. Even if her daughter is living a very privileged life, the letter was very sweet and heartfelt.

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