Investors Urge Apple to Do More to Protect Children From Smartphone Addiction [Updated]

Apple should do more to reduce growing smartphone addiction among children, said two major investors on Monday (via USA Today). In an open letter to the tech giant, New York-based Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers' Retirement System wrote of their increasing concern about the effects of mobile devices and social media on youngsters, urging Apple to offer more tools and choices to help prevent harm.

"There is a developing consensus around the world including Silicon Valley that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility to an app designer, or more accurately to hundreds of app designers."

The letter cited several studies revealing the negative effects of smartphones and social media on children's mental and physical health. For example, one study found that 67 percent of over 2,300 teachers surveyed believe that the number of students who are negatively distracted by gadgets in the classroom is growing, while 75 percent say students' ability to focus on educational tasks has decreased. 

In another study, eighth graders who are heavy users of social media were shown to have a 27 percent higher risk of depression, compared to children who exceed the average time spent playing sports, socializing with friends, or doing homework, all of whom have a much lower risk.  

To counter the threat, the investors – who collectively control $2 billion worth of Apple shares – suggested that Apple set up an expert committee including child development specialists and make its information more available to researchers. The letter also proposed enhancing iOS and associated apps to give parents and guardians more resources to protect their children's wellbeing.

This is a complex issue and we hope that this is the start of a constructive and well-informed dialogue," said the partners. "As one of the most innovative companies in the history of technology, Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do."

Update: In a statement provided to The Wall Street Journal, Apple said that iOS devices offer extensive parental controls that allow parents to oversee the content and apps being used by children.

"We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them. We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers' expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids."

Apple also said that it makes sure the App Store is free from offensive material like pornography with clearly labeled apps that allow parents to find age-appropriate content. Apple also said that it is "constantly looking" for ways to improve its device and said new "even more robust" parental controls will come in the future.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
29 months ago
While we're at it, let's urge car makers to do more to curb teen pregnancy.
Score: 84 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago

If you see kids on smartphones and tablets nowadays, it's on some next level ****. They are kids, they don't know the difference between responsible usage and addiction.


... but is it the responsibility of the platform maker to govern that...

or maybe it should be the kids *parents*?
Score: 60 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago
Is this another "Caution; this drink it hot" type of nonsense?

Do you know how I control the social media for my 15 years old? She does not have social media because she does not need it. Few years ago when she asked for Instagram and Snapchat we let her use it under the conditions that she would not spend too much time on it. but she abused it and we deleted her accounts and blocked the iPhone to allow her to download any apps and restricted Safari. Same with her MacBook - problem solved and she is doing just fine without that garbage.
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago
If you don’t like what Apple is doing, sell your shares and shut up. It isn’t a company’s job to parent other people’s kids. Period.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago
This is so true, I have noticed this also with adults. It has affected my family greatly. When we go to family gatherings everyone is on their phones and it seems like we don't talk much.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago
If you see kids on smartphones and tablets nowadays, it's on some next level ****.

They are kids, they don't know the difference between responsible usage and addiction.

EDIT: I see many posts saying it is all down to the parents. Of course, parents have to be more responsible. But what about once the kid is older? Or out of sight? It could be to/from/at school. It could be on a sleepover. It could be "doing homework".

You can't police your child 24/7 or you end up like the recent Black Mirror episode "ArkAngel".

This is dialogue about enabling parents to remotely control limits on WiFi, data, certain app usage... Surely that's a good thing to talk about, especially when the MENTAL HEALTH OF CHILDREN is at stake.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Considering Delaying iPhone 12 Launch 'by Months'

Wednesday March 25, 2020 12:51 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple is preparing to delay the launch of the 2020 iPhones expected to be equipped with 5G technology, according to sources with knowledge of Apple's plans that spoke to Japanese news site Nikkei. Apple has reportedly held internal discussions about the possibility of delaying the launch "by months" over fears of how well iPhones would sell in the current situation, and supply chain sources...

Apple Helps Source Over 10 Million N95 Masks for Healthcare Providers in the U.S.

Wednesday March 25, 2020 10:25 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple over the weekend announced plans to donate millions of N95 masks to hospitals in the United States and Europe, and according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple has been able to source more than 10 million N95 masks in the U.S. and millions more in Europe. Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Saturday that Apple was aiming to donate supplies to healthcare providers fighting COVID-19, and clarified...

Hands-On With the New 2020 12.9-Inch iPad Pro

Wednesday March 25, 2020 2:10 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple last week announced new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, and as of today, the new iPads are arriving to customers. We picked up one of the new 12.9-inch models and checked it out to see just what's new and whether it's worth buying. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. When it comes to design, the new iPad Pro models are identical to the 2018 iPad Pro models, but ...

Kuo: Apple to Launch Several Macs With Arm-Based Processors in 2021, USB4 Support Coming to Macs in 2022

Thursday March 26, 2020 8:19 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple plans to launch several Mac notebooks and desktop computers with its own custom designed Arm-based processors in 2021, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Kuo believes that Arm-based processors will significantly enhance the competitive advantage of the Mac lineup, allow Apple to refresh its Mac models without relying on Intel's processor roadmap,...

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 13.4 With New Mail Toolbar, iCloud Folder Sharing, Trackpad Support for iPad and More

Tuesday March 24, 2020 9:56 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 13.4, the latest major updates to the iOS 13 operating system that was released in September. iOS and iPadOS 13.4 come two months after the release of iOS and iPadOS 13.3.1 with Screen Time Communication Limits. The iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.4 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to...

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.4 With Screen Time Communication Limits and Real-Time Apple Music Lyrics

Tuesday March 24, 2020 10:21 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released macOS Catalina 10.15.4, the fourth update to the macOS Catalina operating system that was released in October. macOS Catalina 10.15.4 comes a couple of months after the release of macOS Catalina 10.15.3. macOS Catalina 10.15.4 can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for free using the Update feature in the System Preferences app. The macOS Catalina 10.15.4 update...

Apple Says MacBook Air With Retina Display Can Exhibit Anti-Reflective Coating Issues, Unclear if Eligible for Free Repairs [Updated]

Thursday March 26, 2020 8:16 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple this week acknowledged that MacBook Air models with Retina displays can exhibit anti-reflective coating issues, as indicated in a memo shared with Apple Authorized Service Providers and obtained by MacRumors. "Retina displays on some MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro computers can exhibit anti-reflective (AR) coating issues," the memo states. Apple's internal service documentation ...

Hands-On With Apple's New Smart Keyboard Folio for the 2020 iPad Pro Models

Tuesday March 24, 2020 12:38 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple last week introduced new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, which are set to arrive in the hands of customers starting this week. Apple introduced a nifty new Magic Keyboard with trackpad alongside the new iPad Pro models that's coming in May, but it also debuted a new Smart Keyboard Folio, which is available now. We picked up the Smart Keyboard Folio for the designed for the 2020 iPad...

Hands-On With the New $999 MacBook Air

Thursday March 26, 2020 1:45 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Alongside new iPad Pros last week, Apple also refreshed the MacBook Air, adding more storage, faster 10th-generation processors, and an updated keyboard. We picked up one of the new machines to take a look at some of the upgrades added in the 2020 update. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, there are no real external changes to the MacBook Air's body,...

Mobile Networks in Multiple Countries Display 'Stay Home' Message When Users Connect to Cellular Instead of WiFi

Tuesday March 24, 2020 3:46 pm PDT by Juli Clover
iPhone users in several countries who disconnect from WiFi on their devices will see a "Stay Home" message at the top of the Control Center where cellular network information is displayed. Image via Matt Navarra According to reports on Twitter, the status bar messages are showing up in countries that include Germany, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Peru, Turkey, India, Luxembourg, Romania,...