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.

ringing bells L

"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

deeddawg Avatar
62 months ago
While we're at it, let's urge car makers to do more to curb teen pregnancy.
Score: 84 Votes (Like | Disagree)
deeddawg Avatar
62 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)
mlody Avatar
62 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)
cocky jeremy Avatar
62 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)
jlluna Avatar
62 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)
JaySoul Avatar
62 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)

Popular Stories

AirPods Max 2022 Colors

Ten Things AirPods Pro 2 Tell Us About AirPods Max 2

Saturday September 24, 2022 1:00 am PDT by
Upon the release of the second-generation AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max became the oldest current-generation AirPods product still in Apple's lineup. Introducing several new features like Adaptive Transparency and the H2 chip, the second-generation AirPods Pro may provide some of the best indications yet of what to expect from the second-generation AirPods Max. Almost two years later, rumors...
apple watch series 7 aluminum colors yellowbg

Don't Want the Apple Watch Ultra or Series 8? Amazon Has Record Low Prices on Series 7 Models This Week

Friday September 23, 2022 6:56 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra are now available to purchase, but if you aren't interested in these updates you can save a lot of money on Series 7 models right now on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. The best deals are on cellular...
iOS 16

Apple Releases iOS 16.0.2 With Bug Fixes for iPhone 14 Pro Camera Vibration, Copy/Paste Issue and More

Thursday September 22, 2022 1:04 pm PDT by
Apple today released iOS 16.0.2, addressing a number of bugs that iPhone 14 owners have been experiencing since the new devices launched. iOS 16.0.2 comes two weeks after the launch of iOS 16, and it follows iOS 16.0.1, an update made available to iPhone 14 owners on launch day. The update is available for all iPhones that are capable of running iOS 16. The iOS 16.0.2 update can be...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

New 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pros Reportedly Launching Later This Year

Friday September 23, 2022 7:08 am PDT by
Apple plans to release new MacBook Pro models in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report does not mention specific models, but it very likely refers to the next-generation 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros given that the 13-inch model was already updated earlier this year. There has been uncertainty surrounding the timing of new 14-inch and...
Tim Cook Apple Event

Gurman: New iPads and Macs May Be Announced Through Press Releases, No October Event

Sunday September 25, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Apple may decide to release its remaining products for 2022, which include updated iPad Pro, Mac mini, and 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, through press releases on its website rather than a digital event, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that Apple is currently "likely to release its remaining 2022 products via press releases,...
Dynamic Island For Android Users Feature

Android App Copying iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island Released on Play Store

Thursday September 22, 2022 7:57 am PDT by
A copycat version of the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island has arrived on Android's Google Play Store in the form of an app called "dynamicSpot." The app, still in beta, offers customers several different experiences at the top of their smartphones. In its current form, dynamicSpot offers playback control for songs, timers, battery status, and more features coming soon, according to the app's...
AirPods Pro Second Generation 2 Pairing Feature 1

AirPods Pro 2 Engravings Appear in iOS During Pairing and Connecting

Friday September 23, 2022 9:40 am PDT by
Customers who personalize their second-generation AirPods Pro charging case with an engraving will now have that engraving reflected directly on iOS as they pair and connect their AirPods Pro. Apple allows customers to personalize their AirPods Pro charging case with a special engraving that can include select emojis and Memojis. Unlike before, starting with the second-generation AirPods...
Apple Watch 6 New Features Feature 2

Six New Apple Watch Features Coming Later This Year

Friday September 23, 2022 8:12 am PDT by
With new Apple Watch Ultra and Series 8 models now in the hands of customers, Apple has brought a host of smart new features to many people's wrists. But there's more to come. Apple has a handful of additional features in store for Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra owners before the year's end, and some of them are watchOS 9 functions, which means they will even work on older Apple ...
new airpods pro ear tips

Apple Explains Why Second-Generation AirPods Pro Ear Tips Are Incompatible With Original AirPods Pro

Thursday September 22, 2022 3:12 pm PDT by
Apple today explained why the new silicone ear tips for the second-generation AirPods Pro are not officially compatible with the original AirPods Pro. In an updated support document, Apple said the original AirPods Pro ear tips have "noticeably denser mesh" than the second-generation ear tips. Apple did not provide any additional details, but the mesh density could result in acoustical...