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

FILE PHOTO: An Apple Store staff shows Apple's new iPhones X after they go on sale at the Apple Store in Regents Street London
FILE PHOTO: An Apple Store staff shows Apple's new iPhones X after they go on sale at the Apple Store in Regents Street, London, Britain, November 3, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

January 9, 2018

By Elizabeth Dilts

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Apple Inc said it “has always looked out for kids”, defending its technology policy for children, after two major investors urged it to address what they said was a growing problem of young people getting addicted to Apple’s iPhones.

Shareholders Jana Partners, a leading activist shareholder, and California teacher pension investor CalSTRS, one of the nation’s largest public pension plans, delivered a letter to Apple on Saturday asking the company to consider developing software that would allow parents more options to limit children’s phone use.

Jana and CalSTRS also asked Apple to study the impact of excessive phone use on mental health. They said they own about $2 billion of Apple stock.

Apple on Monday said that since 2008 the iPhone’s software has allowed parents to control which apps, movies, games and other content children can access.

“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. “We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids.”

It said it had new features in the works to make tools more robust.

The social rights issue is a new turn for Jana, which is known for pushing companies it invests in to make financial changes.

However, the issue of phone addiction among young people has become a growing concern in the United States as parents report their children cannot give up their phones. CalSTRS and Jana worry that “even” Apple’s reputation could be hurt if it does not address those concerns. Their letter was originally reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Half of teenagers in the United States feel like they are addicted to their mobile phones and report feeling pressure to immediately respond to phone messages, according to a 2016 survey of children and their parents by Common Sense Media.

The phone addiction issue got a high-profile boost from the former Disney child star Selena Gomez, 24, who said she canceled a 2016 world tour to go to therapy for depression and low self-esteem, feelings she linked to her addiction to social media and the mobile photo-sharing app Instagram.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts in New York, Stephen Nellis and Peter Henderson in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

  • Jack Green

    How about the adults have the smart phones surgically removed from their hands and set an example for their off-spring.

  • Pingback: Apple should address youth phone addiction, say two large investors – Techie.Buzz()

  • Neal and Beth

    Our local bike path has become a danger zone because the kids (oh, and “adults” too) insist on texting while biking and skateboarding. Talk about a mass case of attention deficit disorder.

  • Marilyn Bloom

    Here’s a novel idea: how about their PARENTS addressing their kid’s “phone addiction”? I guess Smirnoff & Jack Daniel’s should “address” alcoholism too? Smack a ” Warning Label” on the phones, if you must, & Move On fer cryin’ out loud.

  • Stan d

    Weapons of mass distraction.

    • Neal and Beth

      Good one!

  • JaySands1234

    The dumbing down of America is complete.These kids today don’t even know how to count back correct change if the cash register screws up..

    • All American

      How about communicating?
      Always felt that the bite of the Apple was very similar to the temptation in the Garden of Eden.
      Look what that gave us!

  • Legion

    Children under the age of 18 should not be allowed anything but a
    simple ‘flip-phone’ that can only call people within the immediate family.
    No internet and no text messaging capability.

  • drake

    “growing concern in the United States as parents report their children cannot give up their phones.” What’s wrong with this picture? Is the so called “Parent” the regulator of their “Minor’s” activities or is it the other way around? I forget. Yes it can be called an epidemic because parents stopped “Parenting” their kids, now they are just “Friending” their kids. Get a “F”ing life parents. YOU own the family environment, not your blessed Cherubs. When they die from distracted driving, depression, drug abuse as a result of the negatives brought on by this so called addiction, do not feel victimized by the world. You are the perpetrators for allowing it. It was the easy way out to let them have their way. Was it worth it??

    • All American

      It is dependence on being connected all of the time. On having immediate knowledge of everything and control.
      Where is the child, what is the child doing, who is the child with?
      If you haven’t noticed there are no longer any pay phones on every corner.
      Parents can block anything and everything on the phones as well as monitor everything.
      The problem is that the children don’t communicate verbally. I have a box by our front door. When any family member enters the cells go into the box!

  • jlsharks1

    The youth ! how about the adults.