Two major Apple shareholders push for study of iPhone addiction in children

“Two big shareholders of Apple Inc. are concerned that the entrancing qualities of the iPhone have fostered a public health crisis that could hurt children — and the company as well,” Luke Kawa reports Bloomberg. “In a letter to the smartphone maker dated Jan. 6, activist investor Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System urged Apple to create ways for parents to restrict children’s access to their mobile phones. They also want the company to study the effects of heavy usage on mental health.”

“‘There is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent young users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences,’ according to the letter from the investors, who combined own about $2 billion in Apple shares. The ‘growing societal unease’ is “at some point is likely to impact even Apple,'” Kawa reports. “‘Addressing this issue now will enhance long-term value for all shareholders,’ the letter said.”

“The activist pressure is the latest in a series of challenges for the tech giant. Last week, Cupertino, California-based Apple said that all of its Mac computers and iOS devices, which include both the iPhones and iPads, faced security vulnerabilities due to flawed chips made by Intel Corp,” Kawa reports. “At the tail end of 2017, the company apologized to customers for software changes that resulted in older versions of its iPhones running slower than newly introduced editions.”

Read more in the full article here.

“The Apple push is a preamble to a new several-billion-dollar fund Jana is seeking to raise this year to target companies it believes can be better corporate citizens. It is the first instance of a big Wall Street activist seeking to profit from the kind of social-responsibility campaign typically associated with a small fringe of investors,” David Benoit reports for The Wall Street Journal. “Adding splash, rock star Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, will be on an advisory board along with Sister Patricia A. Daly, a nun who successfully fought Exxon Mobil Corp. over environmental disclosures, and Robert Eccles, an expert on sustainable investing.”

Apple's revolutionary iPhone
Apple’s revolutionary iPhone

“‘Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do,’ the shareholders wrote in the letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal,” Benoit reports. “‘There is a developing consensus around the world including Silicon Valley that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility,’ [the letter added].”

“Some have raised concerns about increased rates in teen depression and suicide and worry that phones are replacing old-fashioned human interaction. It is part of a broader re-evaluation of the effects on society of technology companies such as Google and Inc. and social-media companies like Facebook Inc. and Snap chat owner Snap Inc., which are facing questions about their reach into everyday life,” Benoit reports. “Apple hasn’t offered any public guidance to parents on how to manage children’s smartphone use or taken a position on at what age they should begin using iPhones.”

“The group wants Apple to help find solutions to questions like what is optimal usage and to be at the forefront of the industry’s response—before regulators or consumers potentially force it to act,” Benoit reports. “The investors say Apple should make it easier and more intuitive for parents to set up usage limits, which could head off any future moves to proscribe smartphones.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Making it easy and intuitive for parents to set up usage limits is a no-brainer and Apple most certainly would be smart to do so.

That said, good parenting is good parenting.

For even more proof that Steve Jobs was an unparalleled visionary (as if we needed any), from The New York Times, September 10, 2014, Nick Bilton recounts a conversation he had with Steve Jobs in late 2010:

Bilton: So, your kids must love the iPad?
Jobs: They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.

“Since then, I’ve met a number of technology chief executives and venture capitalists who say similar things: they strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends,” Bilton reported. “I was perplexed by this parenting style. After all, most parents seem to take the opposite approach, letting their children bathe in the glow of tablets, smartphones and computers, day and night.”

Bilton reported, “Yet these tech C.E.O.’s seem to know something that the rest of us don’t.”

Read more in the full article here.

Note: Currently in iOS, you can use Restrictions, also known as parental controls, to block or limit specific apps and features on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. More info here.

Has Steve Jobs’ iPhone destroyed a generation? – August 3, 2017
Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent – September 11, 2014


    1. I’m writing to Hostess to encourage them make them less enticing. I’m tired of their irresponsibility and lack of consideration for me.

  1. Mine have dumbphones (slide-out qwerty texting ones). They do have 3G data, and some rudimentary WAP browser, so they can in a pinch look something up, but it is a frustrating experience (compared to desktop or smartphone), so they don’t bother with the phones other than texting.

    It is extremely difficult to limit screen time unless you have iron grip on your child’s free time, and that then telegraphs to the child that you have zero trust. Effective parenting involves building responsibility and trust, which is quite difficult. As the child grows, we allow more and more autonomy as they progressively demonstrate responsibility (by doing the things they should, and not doing those they shouldn’t).

    Smartphones are unusually seductive and addictive. Most adults can admit that at one point or other, they struggled to resist all that content, whether it be news, social media, “life hack” videos, games or whatever. And most consider that screen time non-consequential (during the commute, after work, while waiting in line), which doesn’t make it any less of an addiction.

    For young brains, this lure is much more powerful, and ability to ignore it is not there yet. About the only way is really to rigorously practice that skill (refusing to pull out the phone during some downtime), and to enforce limits on actual screen time. Parental controls on the iPhone are much better than what Android offers by default, but they aren’t equipped for controlling this addiction.

    If a technological solution can be developed that can help parents with this, I’m sure Apple is the in the best position to deliver it.

  2. These “shareholders” did this to drive down the shares today. That is the purpose of their letter. They are a hedge fund which makes money by opportunistic purchases. They have the power to drive share prices down to take advantage of short positions or simply to get a lower purchase price on more shares. No rational investor in Apple would have written this stupid letter. This shareholder should be indicted for stock manipulation.

    1. Absolutely, This shareholder should be indicted for stock manipulation. Those morons are merely manipulated the stocks. It is frustrated to see FB, NFLX, AMZN, GOOG, surpassed Apple, while Apple is holding back for all of the nonsense negativity, manipulation news.

  3. The problem is social media. This is a blight on the social consensus. Kids are better off watching TV all day or playing video games. Parents need to get involved in what kids spend their time one with their smartphones.

  4. They’re right.

    Before the iPhone, we used to WALK five miles to the mall to hang out… and then we’d talk about astrophysics and philosophy.

    Now my kids don’t even have to walk to the mall, and they text about brainless crap. Double negative.

  5. First, when did Intel start making processors for iOS devices?

    Second, the activities in which kids are engaged on iOS devices is even more important than the total time that they spend on the devices. Overall, however, I agree that most people (adults and children) spend way too much time on mobile devices at the expense of personal social interaction.

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