Apple says it looks out for kids, as investors cite phone 'addiction'

  • Apple says it looks out for kids, as investors cite phone 'addiction'

Apple says it looks out for kids, as investors cite phone 'addiction'

In an open letter to Apple on Monday, New York-based Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) said the firm must do more to help children fight addiction on its devices.

"However, there is also a growing societal unease about whether at least some people are getting too much of a good thing when it comes to technology, which at some point is likely to impact even Apple", the letter, dated January 6, stated.

The letter goes on to suggest Apple make amends by funding studies into technology overuse, and put together an advisory board of researchers and child development professionals that would help Apple design its parental controls to provide more choices for parents about how the device can be accessed by children in various age groups.

As more studies look into the short and long-term effects that technology and smartphones have on children's mental development and wellbeing, tech giants have attempted to make their products more suitable for children.

The American Psychiatric Association does not consider heavy internet use a true mental addiction and says more research is needed. Former Facebook president Sean Parker described the site as made to exploit human vulnerability, saying: "God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains".

The shareholders said they did not want to stop children from using smartphones entirely, and cited Twenge's findings that teenagers who use their electronic devices for up to an hour a day are more happy than their peers who do not use their devices at all.

"We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them", Apple said in the statement. This includes shorter attention spans in class, insufficient sleep and being at a higher risk of depression and suicide.

But Steyer said a bigger problem is with social media companies "designing platforms to grab and retain your children". Their letter was originally reported by the Wall Street Journal.

As one of the leading activist investors in the U.S., Jana is known to advocate for change in companies it is invested in. The idea is that responsible companies can produce better long-term value not just for shareholders, but for society.