Top Investors: Apple Must Tackle Smartphone Addiction Among Kids

Kids iPhone Credit: Inverse
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Two of Apple’s most prominent investors are calling on Apple to do more to tackle and educate youngsters about the effects of technology addition.

According to the Guardian, New York firm Jana Partners and California-based State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) have penned a letter to the tech giant calling on it to help fight smartphone addiction among children.

Previous studies show that children are becoming addicted to their devices, especially mobile phones. A poll from Common Sense Media, conducted in 2016, found that nearly half of teens believe that they use overuse their smart devices.

The investors currently control $2 billion in stock at the company, so they clearly have an important voice. And they’re certainly looking to exert their influence on such an important issue.

“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,” they said.

“Apple can play a defining role in signalling 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.”

They believe that Apple should not only educate children and parents about the risks posed by smartphone addiction, but that it should also provide them with tools and options to prevent this.

In particular, they recommend that Apple implement solutions so that parents can monitor usage. These could be released alongside the parental controls and restrictions that are already available on iOS.

Apple should also create an “expert committee” comprised of health professionals and “child development specialists”, who’d provide the firm with ways it can tackle smartphone addiction.

One of their other suggestions is the introduction of an age setting when the user first gets the phone. They’d also like to see Apple offer screen time limits, as well as the ability to block social media.

To add evidence to the letter, the investors cited recent research. They said: “Some may argue that the research is not definitive, that other factors are also at work, and that in any case parents must take ultimate responsibility for their children.

“These statements are undoubtedly true, but they also miss the point. The average American teenager who uses a smart phone receives her first phone at age 10 and spends over 4.5 hours a day on it (excluding texting and talking).”

“78% of teens check their phones at least hourly and 50% report feeling “addicted” to their phones.

The investors added: ” It would defy common sense to argue that this level of usage, by children whose brains are still developing, is not having at least some impact, or that the maker of such a powerful product has no role to play in helping parents to ensure it is being used optimally.”

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