Apple plans more features for parents to control kids' phone use

Tech firms should care about your kids getting addicted to their phones

In this December 17, 2017, photo, a baby girl plays with a mobile phone while riding in a NY subway.

At the weekend, an open letter from a group of investors expressed concern about the overuse of Apple devices by children and teenagers. It was written ahead of next month's annual shareholders' meeting and says the investors believe "there is a clear need for Apple to offer parents more choices and tools to help them ensure that young consumers are using your products in an optimal manner".

"We note that Apple's current limited set of parental controls in fact dictate a more binary, all or nothing approach, with parental options limited largely to shutting down or allowing full access to various tools and functions", the letter explained.

The company stressed it takes phone addiction seriously.

"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", the investors wrote.

Apple is defending itself this week after some of its largest shareholders went public with a request for the company to make technology that would empower more parents to control smartphone use among kids.

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The two shareholders published an open letter online that called for Apple to play "a pioneering role, this time by setting an example about the obligations of technology companies to their youngest customers", the letter read.

Following accusations that children are addicted to iPhones, Apple has said that it will introduce improved parental controls in iOS.

While conducting research on the situation, CalSTRS and Jana partnered with experts Dr. Michael Rich, founding director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Professor Jean M. Twenge, psychologist at San Diego State University and author of the book iGen.

Citing findings from studies, the group added: "Research shows that USA teenagers who spend 3 hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35% more likely, and those who spend 5 hours or more are 71% more likely, to have a risk factor for suicide than those who spend less than 1 hour". That number is 66 percent higher than teens who only use their phones for one hour a day, according to the Deseret News.

He says if Apple has data that researchers could use in terms of health outcomes such as depression and suicide, that would be beneficial.

"What's the risk of doing nothing?"

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