Shareholders ask Apple to study impact of iPhone addiction on young users

Posted:
in iPhone
A pair of major Apple shareholders have issued an open letter asking the company to study the impact of heavy smartphone use by children and teenagers, as well as offer more parental restrictions on iPhones.




The letter, shared online by Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, suggests that there's a "growing body of evidence" that for youth with more intense habits, smartphones "may be having unintentional negative consequences." The groups argue that "growing societal unease" could eventually affect Apple, and that stemming the problem now will aid the company's shares.

In terms of restrictions, the letter proposes modifying initial setup on an iPhone to let parents set an age and appropriate limits on screen time, hours of the day, and which social media services a child can access. Likewise, parents could be given options to monitor how an iPhone is used.

Other suggetions include tasking an executive with monitoring the issue and producing annual progress reports, much in the same way the company documents its labor, environmental, and diversity concerns.

iOS already offers some parental restrictions, but these mostly affect the ability of kids to buy apps, access "offensive" content, or use built-in features such as location sharing.

While smartphones were once seen as an expensive luxury aimed at businesspeople, they have increasingly become de facto for all ages in richer countries. Some apps, such as Snapchat and Instagram, have heavily relied on young users for their success.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 45
    jdwjdw Posts: 586member
    I don't see the compelling need for such a study.  As a parent of a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old, I can tell you that 14-year-olds entering high school feel it's time we parents buy them an iPhone.  But ultimately, it is up to we parents to decide if that's really in the best interest of the child.  I also contemplate if it is in the best interest of my pocket book too, since the month fees cost far more than the iPhone in the long term.  

    I purchased an WIFI iPad Pro 9.7" for my daughter when it first came out since her school required either a tablet or notebook computer at the time, and the iPad was cheaper than a Mac notebook (we don't do Windows).  But an iPhone is altogether a different device than a tablet because of the never-ending and expensive monthly fees and because it is small enough to fit in your pocket and tempt you to glance at it throughout the day.  

    I grew up with tech, my first home computer being the Macintosh 128k in 1984 when I was 13, and prior to that I had used Commodore 64 machines and other computing devices owned by friends.  But I did not grow up with a mobile phone and I think perhaps that is a good thing.  As such, I don't feel compelled to give in to my daughter's wishes for an iPhone, especially since we really cannot afford the monthly fees associated with it.  Even if one does a study and finds iPhones are addictive (which most of us know already), the PARENT is ultimately the one responsible for either starting that addiction or preventing it from starting in the first place.  The best "parental restriction" is the decision by the parent NOT to buy their child an iPhone or give them a used iPhone.  That by no means prevents teaching them about tech, since computers and even tablets with WIFI are a reasonable alternative, albeit alternatives that still need some parental oversight.  
    edited January 7 macseekerzeus423fotoformatbaconstangboltsfan17digital_guymuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobraleavingthebigggatorguy
  • Reply 2 of 45
    Amen Jdw, amen.
    jdwmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobraleavingthebigg
  • Reply 3 of 45
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,531member
    Here’s an idea: hey parents, be a parent! You can take the idevices from your kid at anytime. In fact, you don’t have to get your kid an idevice until they’ve earned it. 
    zeus423baconstangbluefire1watto_cobraleavingthebiggentropysmacxpressdewmeigorskyviclauyyc
  • Reply 4 of 45
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,506member
    jdw said:
    I don't see the compelling need for such a study.  As a parent of a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old, I can tell you that 14-year-olds entering high school feel it's time we parents buy them an iPhone.  But ultimately, it is up to we parents to decide if that's really in the best interest of the child.  I also contemplate if it is in the best interest of my pocket book too, since the month fees cost far more than the iPhone in the long term.  

    I purchased an WIFI iPad Pro 9.7" for my daughter when it first came out since her school required either a tablet or notebook computer at the time, and the iPad was cheaper than a Mac notebook (we don't do Windows).  But an iPhone is altogether a different device than a tablet because of the never-ending and expensive monthly fees and because it is small enough to fit in your pocket and tempt you to glance at it throughout the day.  

    I grew up with tech, my first home computer being the Macintosh 128k in 1984 when I was 13, and prior to that I had used Commodore 64 machines and other computing devices owned by friends.  But I did not grow up with a mobile phone and I think perhaps that is a good thing.  As such, I don't feel compelled to give in to my daughter's wishes for an iPhone, especially since we really cannot afford the monthly fees associated with it.  Even if one does a study and finds iPhones are addictive (which most of us know already), the PARENT is ultimately the one responsible for either starting that addiction or preventing it from starting in the first place.  The best "parental restriction" is the decision by the parent NOT to buy their child an iPhone or give them a used iPhone.  That by no means prevents teaching them about tech, since computers and even tablets with WIFI are a reasonable alternative, albeit alternatives that still need some parental oversight.  
    Well said, and well done. 


    jdwmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobraigorskyjony0
  • Reply 5 of 45
    CalSTRS being SJWs rather than improving the funding for retirement for California Teachers.
    macseekerwilliamlondon
  • Reply 6 of 45

    Both my kids have iPads, but what they do with it and how much time they spend with it is solely controlled by my wife and I.

    As far as iPhones go, I fully agree with @JDW and I will give them an iPhone when they can afford a plan for it.

    baconstangwatto_cobraigorskyjony0jdw
  • Reply 7 of 45
    CalSTRS being SJWs rather than improving the funding for retirement for California Teachers.
    You got that one right! Right between the eyes.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 45
    They should be barking at the companies that make the apps.  That's what they're addicted to.
    digital_guywatto_cobrachristopher126wlympatchythepirateigorsky
  • Reply 9 of 45
    tex210tex210 Posts: 11member
    Mostly around here I see kids running around or being bored while the parents are on their phones. I feel this is even worse (more detrimental to the child).  A study into parental habits of iPhone users should be demanded now!  Think of the children. /s
    macseekerwatto_cobrachristopher126williamlondondewmespice-boyjony0baconstang
  • Reply 10 of 45
    lukeilukei Posts: 309member
    My youngest get 10 mins morning and afternoon each on a shared iPad. They set the alarm timer and stick to it. 
    christopher126baconstang
  • Reply 11 of 45
    When my niece got old enough to want a phone, my sister said great, but you’ve got to pay for it and I’ll monitor what’s on it. 
    It took quite a while after that for it to become important enough for her to save and prioritise the spend. 
    I expect I’ll do the same with my daughters, as well as have really clear limits around ‘screen time’ - which we’ve had from day 1. Got to lead by example on this one though :)
  • Reply 12 of 45
    Let’s impose another layer of complexity in development. Great idea.  Each of these ideas are a minuscule additional cost, but they add up. And they probably think the phone costs too much too.
  • Reply 13 of 45
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,111member
    jdw said:
    I don't see the compelling need for such a study.  As a parent of a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old, I can tell you that 14-year-olds entering high school feel it's time we parents buy them an iPhone.  But ultimately, it is up to we parents to decide if that's really in the best interest of the child.  I also contemplate if it is in the best interest of my pocket book too, since the month fees cost far more than the iPhone in the long term.  

    I purchased an WIFI iPad Pro 9.7" for my daughter when it first came out since her school required either a tablet or notebook computer at the time, and the iPad was cheaper than a Mac notebook (we don't do Windows).  But an iPhone is altogether a different device than a tablet because of the never-ending and expensive monthly fees and because it is small enough to fit in your pocket and tempt you to glance at it throughout the day.  

    I grew up with tech, my first home computer being the Macintosh 128k in 1984 when I was 13, and prior to that I had used Commodore 64 machines and other computing devices owned by friends.  But I did not grow up with a mobile phone and I think perhaps that is a good thing.  As such, I don't feel compelled to give in to my daughter's wishes for an iPhone, especially since we really cannot afford the monthly fees associated with it.  Even if one does a study and finds iPhones are addictive (which most of us know already), the PARENT is ultimately the one responsible for either starting that addiction or preventing it from starting in the first place.  The best "parental restriction" is the decision by the parent NOT to buy their child an iPhone or give them a used iPhone.  That by no means prevents teaching them about tech, since computers and even tablets with WIFI are a reasonable alternative, albeit alternatives that still need some parental oversight.  
    Interesting...  But that does nothing to address the problem.   A child can become addicted/obsessed with an iPad even easier than a phone.   Because you eliminated data charges doesn't change the impact on the child.

    With your approach, the only solution is to eliminate all electronics from the child which becomes increasingly less possible.
  • Reply 14 of 45
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,111member
    jungmark said:
    Here’s an idea: hey parents, be a parent! You can take the idevices from your kid at anytime. In fact, you don’t have to get your kid an idevice until they’ve earned it. 
    You apparently aren't a parent of a teenager...
    ... While sounding easy-peasy, it is impractical in today's world.
    wlymwilliamlondonMacsplosion
  • Reply 15 of 45
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,111member
    All the people saying "He can have an iPad but not an iPhone" -- as if there was some inherent difference in how they can be used and abused cracks me up....

    I suspect it dates back to when you either had a "cell phone" or nothing.   So, cell phones became toxic to parents -- who now buy their kid an iPad while he's in grade school or earlier and think nothing of it.
  • Reply 16 of 45
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,111member
    I agree with the investors:   Apple can do more and should do more...
    One of those things is to add hours of operation to Parental Controls so parents can, say, have the device shut down at bed time on week nights without having to physically confiscate the device.

    It's easy to shout out that parents should "take responsibility".  But, quite obviously, that is not working for most.   Kids are spending far too many hours and late nights obsessing over this app or that app....

    And, like all serious sociological problems, there is no one single magic bullet solution.  Yes parents need to take responsibility -- including enabling their kids to do other things (like go outside to play) instead of video games and such.  

    So yes:   While Apple can't cure the problem, it can do more than its doing to help solve it. 
  • Reply 17 of 45
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,232member
    jungmark said:
    Here’s an idea: hey parents, be a parent! You can take the idevices from your kid at anytime. In fact, you don’t have to get your kid an idevice until they’ve earned it. 
    You apparently aren't a parent of a teenager...
    ... While sounding easy-peasy, it is impractical in today's world.
    What makes it impractical? Is it because they need a phone, or think they do? Is it because all of their friends have one so why not them? Bottomline, if the child cannot show they can be responsible enough when using the device whatever it may be, then they shouldn't have one and if lose it, they should have to earn the right to get it back. It doesn't matter if all of their friends have one. Just because their friends parents don't care doesn't mean I shouldn't either as a parent. Having a phone is a privilege, not a right, even in today's world. 
    edited January 8 macseekerbaconstang
  • Reply 18 of 45
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 4,998member
    Frankly I could do with parental controls for myself. No Netflix past 11pm
    randominternetpersonpatchythepirateGeorgeBMaclkallianceStrangeDays
  • Reply 19 of 45
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,078member
    jungmark said:
    Here’s an idea: hey parents, be a parent! You can take the idevices from your kid at anytime. In fact, you don’t have to get your kid an idevice until they’ve earned it. 

    That requires people to be responsible for their own actions. Haven't you been watching the news the last few years, people lack self control and discipline so we need governments and companies to tell them what is the right thing to do.

    To your point, we gave our kids computers and phones when mom and I felt it was appropriate and required. The cell phone was more about convenience to us as parent than anything else. However, My kids learn real fast having these devices did not absolved them from doing the right things and beginning responsible for their actions. When I found my kids were online all hours of the night I disable the internet after 10 at night, when my kids did not do what was required I went on to AT&T website and disable their phones. The kids learn the lesson what I giveth I can taketh away. I did these things a few times and they became very responsible with their technology.

    williamlondonpatchythepiratebaconstang
  • Reply 20 of 45
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,274member
    Is it really the devices that are the problem, or is it social media apps and services and web sites that are the real problem? Handheld gaming devices have been around for many years but it's not like you'll ever be in a restaurant and see every member of a family heads-down, intensely focused on their personal Game Boy device. Nothing sadder than seeing people, families especially, sitting around a dinner table together and some or all of them are silently staring at their phones in their laps. I've seen this sadness everywhere I've traveled, from China to Germany and especially in the US.

    It's also not fair to imply the problem is only related to children when the parents of many children are often just as "addicted" to their devices as the children are. Children emulate their parents. Some parents give kids devices to shut them up and get them out of the way so the parents can focus on what's most important to them - their own personal devices. When parents show no self restraint and are not really "present" when being in close physical proximity to their kids and spouse it sends a message that the handheld device is more important than face to face human interaction. If you're a parent and you're on your device before completely backing out of your garage - you have a problem. If you drive your car one-handed so you can yack on the phone and you have a child in a car seat (or worse, roaming freely) in the back seat - you have a problem. If you're totally oblivious to the presence of a turn signal in your car because it's on the "phone hand" side of the wheel - you have a problem. If you're a parent and you take phone calls at home from work at all hours of the night  - you have a problem.

    Parents and adults in general should quit blaming children for adult inflicted problems. Perhaps adults could get their own acts together and try setting good examples for children to follow. And it's time to quit asking Apple to fix problems that you own. Apple is a business, they're not your mommy.  
    muthuk_vanalingammacseekerpscooter63baconstang
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