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Published: Thu, January 11, 2018
Tech | By Dwayne Harmon

Apple will combat iPhone addiction with more parental controls

Apple will combat iPhone addiction with more parental controls

Two of the largest investors in Apple are urging the iPhone maker to take action against smartphone addiction among children over growing concerns about the effects of technology and social media on the youth.

In an open letter to the technology giant, New York-based Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, highlighted increasing concern about the effects of gadgets and social media on youngsters. Smartphone addiction is one element, another is social media use. "In an interview past year to celebrate Apple for (the) positive contribution it has made to the world, (Fortune) challenged Tim Cook to say what Apple was doing about the "bad social behavior" iPhones and iPads provoked, including 'children who stare for too long into a screen.' Cook changed the subject, talking instead about Apple's anti-distracted driving initiative and how the Apple Watch has a feature that reminds you to breathe".

Connection, happiness, what could be more important for healthy childhood development? The two shareholders, which between them own about $2 billion in Apple shares, urged the company to develop additional means for parents to restrict the use of mobile phones by their children.

"In the case of Apple, we believe the long-term health of its youngest customers and the health of society, our economy, and the Company itself, are inextricably linked, and thus the only difference between the changes we are advocating at Apple now and the type of change shareholders are better known for advocating is the time period over which they will enhance and protect value", they wrote.

IPhones (and other devices) are making it hard for students to stay focused at school, according to research touted in the letter.

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.

Is your child addicted to their iPhone or iPad?

He wrote on Twitter: "Apple Watches, Google Phones, Facebook, Twitter - they've gotten so good at getting us to go for another click, another dopamine hit".

He added that tech companies would probably face government regulation if they didn't provide better tools for people to manage the time they spend with their devices.

Creating a committee of child development experts to study the issue.

Even if Apple doesn't have a direct responsibility to parents, it's not surprising that the company quickly committed to doing more, says Neil Bearse, director of marketing at Queen's University's Smith School of Business.

The company pointed to existing parental controls built into iOS that help parents moderate content including apps, websites, movies, songs, and books. "Effectively anything a child could download or access online can be easily blocked or restricted by a parent".

You used to be able to rip your kid out from in front of the TV and say, 'Come on, we're going grocery shopping, ' but now they won't even get in the auto without saying, 'Can I play with your phone?'

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