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

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.

    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.
    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.
    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.

    Article Link: Investors Urge Apple to Do More to Protect Children From Smartphone Addiction [Updated]
  2. JaySoul, Jan 8, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018

    JaySoul macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2008
    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.
  3. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    While we're at it, let's urge car makers to do more to curb teen pregnancy.
  4. jlluna macrumors 6502

    Apr 21, 2010
    Holly Michigan
    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.
  5. deeddawg, Jan 8, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018

    deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    ... but is it the responsibility of the platform maker to govern that...

    or maybe it should be the kids *parents*?
  6. mlody macrumors 6502a

    Nov 11, 2012
    Windy City
    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.
  7. Wanted797 macrumors 6502


    Oct 28, 2011
    Yep. I remember when I was 16-18 my Mum getting annoyed at me for being on the computer to long or my first iPhone. Now I go somewhere and she’s the one staring at her phone while mine is being left.
  8. chinito77 macrumors member


    Nov 2, 2015
    #8 about Apple just includes a sticker that says "Blame my parents for my lack of control".
  9. Wahlstrm macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2013
    It would probably be better to have the "parental control" work the other way..

    "Are you sure you want to use your smart device as a babysitter, again?"
  10. radiology macrumors 6502


    Feb 11, 2014
    Westlake, OH
    I agree that Apple should get involved, but the responsibility lies primarily on parents, and it all starts with iPads, not iPhone. Kids get hooked up first with the ipads, which parents use to distract them while they go about their own businesses. I’m a parent myself and I also do that, but I am constantly policing myself to prevent them from spending too much time with electronics.
  11. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    The problem here is that the phone is a mere vessel. These investor's are chasing the wrong suspect. They should be going after Facebook/Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media apps.

    But also, one of these investors is the CA state teacher's. If they are concerned they should organize seminars with PTAs to teach parent's how best to rein their kid's use of social media. Social media, like anything else, is fine in appropriate amounts -- even necessary to have a social life, but also unhealthy if it's the bulk of one's daily activities. Every generation has its "social media" type activity -- radio, comic book, tv, computers. It's up to parents (and to a smaller degree, teachers, to foster interest in diverse activities).

    But the issue here is specific apps, not the phone itself. To put in more artificial controls is not the best way to teach kids to be responsible. Plus they'll just find a work around if there is a barrier.
  12. cocky jeremy macrumors 68040

    cocky jeremy

    Jul 12, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    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.
  13. OriginalAppleGuy macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2016
    Figures it came out of California. It is the PARENTS responsibility to ensure their children do not adopt habits that are bad for their health or success in life. It is NOT the manufacturer of any products that can be "abused" to do anything about it. There are already parental controls available on said devices. Use them. Pay attention to what the kids are doing and maybe have an actual relationship with them.

    As an investor in Apple, this is an asinine request.
  14. itsmilo macrumors 68000


    Sep 15, 2016
    Surely thats the parents job? Those probably love to blame teachers too
  15. asdavis10 macrumors 6502


    Feb 3, 2008
  16. Schwyz macrumors regular


    Apr 6, 2016
    Up a tree
    Yes, it’s the parent’s job, but Apple should still add a Timelimit option to restrictions that parents could set.
  17. recoil80 macrumors 68000

    Jul 16, 2014
    My daughter is only 14 months old, she'd like to use the iPad but the only time I let them interact with it is when I make facetime calls with her grandparents. While the iPad is on the couch I see her looking for it frequently, but I always tell her "no, it is off now" and she quickly loses interest.
    Many friends of mine call the iPad their "babysitter" and I don't want to end up like them. Their kids are too dependent on the iPad to have supper or to stay quiet in the car or on public transit.
    I know it will be hard to stop her from using the iPad in the near future, eventually she'll find out how to unlock it and even if I put a longer passcode she'll get annoying until I'll unlock it. The key is to let the kids play with something useful, as an app developer I'm thinking of developing some sort of game, like a quiz, to let her use the iPad to learn something not just play with stupid games or watch videos on youtube.
  18. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Haven't these investors ever heard of parents? Apple literally has zero responsibility in this area, this falls on the parents plain and simple.
  19. Wowereit macrumors 6502a

    Feb 1, 2016
    Remember the teenage girl that died in a car accident because she was typing on her iPhone?

    Same **** all over again.
  20. usarioclave macrumors 65816

    Sep 26, 2003
    Apple should also have a built-in babysitter available via FaceTime so that Apple can supervise the kids 24/7.
  21. JosephAW macrumors 68000


    May 14, 2012
    It's not up to Apple, it's up to the parents to control their children.
  22. nwcs macrumors 65816


    Sep 21, 2009
    It’s a complex problem and no one party can solve it. Throwing everything on the parent is not a solution because parents are out-maneuvered and out-spent by advertising and such. The controls on many smartphones are poorly implemented and documented and can be bypassed by clever children. And those who do set things up right are usually subverted by other children who act as “mules” for the addiction.

    Throwing everything on Apple isn’t a solution because Apple can’t dictate what people do and not do. They can make it easier for parents to manage a device, though, and they do a fair job at that. More rests on the social media themselves as they are, at their very heart, a manipulative engine. It’s very carefully orchestrated to keep people on and engaged. The more people pour into it, the more it has to manipulate. Their entire revenue is based on getting people to stay on and engaged.

    Still, in reality people have always been addicted to stupid things. It’s just easier and the people are lazier with it. Eventually something worse than social media will come up and this upcoming generation will look back longingly at when today’s social media was considered real interaction...
  23. apolloa, Jan 8, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018

    apolloa macrumors G3


    Oct 21, 2008
    Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
    Well studies are showing that IAPs and children are demonstrating traits similar to gambling addiction. So their is that.
    And Parents won’t always be aware of this.

    Hmm with this report though I guess anything that helps, I mean a lot of social skills are learnt through face to face interaction so we don’t want those lost. We’ll end up in a world like the film Surrogates.

    If the investors are requesting this then it must be a bad situation.
  24. mgauss7 macrumors regular


    Apr 23, 2009
  25. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    Parents can also help with some of this too. I could have become addicted to TV, Video games, DVDs, and “classic” computers had my parents let me.

    Regardless, I think the tech change is already in the works. Smartphones are essentially now a mature market, Apple (like Samsung and others) is already working on the next shift in tech. Just will take a bit of time to see what catches hold, and then we can worry about additction to that too.

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