Two Big Investors Ask Apple To Address Youth Phone Addiction

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Two big Apple shareholders have asked the company to help curtail phone addiction among children. The investors are concerned that the iPhone’s entrancing qualities are fostering a public health crisis, which could be negative for kids and the company as well.

Apple investors concerned over excessive iPhone use

In a letter (shared online), Apple Inc. (NASDASQ:AAPL) investors Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), said there is evidence that the smartphone habit could impact the health of youth.

“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,” the letter read. The “growing societal unease … at some point is likely to impact even Apple.”

The investors further argue that this social unease could impact Apple as well, and addressing the phone addiction now could help company’s shares.

“Addressing this issue now will enhance long-term value for all shareholders,” the letter read.

Jana is a leading activist shareholder while CalSTRS is one of the nation’s largest public pension plans. Together, both the investors own about $2 billion in Apple shares. In the letter delivered Saturday, Apple investors have asked the company to develop some software which would allow parents to restrict the use of smartphones among children, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Further, the letter proposes that Apple should introduce software changes like allowing parents to set a limit on the number of hours, and/or the social platforms that the kids can access. Parents could also get an option to monitor how the iPhone is used.

Apple investors have also asked the company to study the impact that excessive use of the smartphone has on the mental health of the young. Other suggestions include active monitoring of the issue by Apple executives, and producing an annual report on the topic, similar to how the company does for the diversity and labor.

Apple already gives users some parental restrictions. However, these restrictions mostly control the ability of the kids to purchase the apps, access offensive content, or use of features such as location sharing.

Phone addiction – a growing issue

Smartphone addiction among young people is a growing concern in the U.S. as more and more parents report the issue with their children. A 2016 survey of children and their parents by Common Sense Media claims that half of the teenagers in the U.S. feel they are addicted to their phone and always feel the urge to respond to phone messages immediately, notes Reuters.

“It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades,” said Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, in an article in The Atlantic last year. “Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.”

The issue was highlighted after the former Disney child star, Selena Gomez, said she went to therapy for depression and low self-esteem. Gomez, 24, linked those feelings to her smartphone addiction. Also, governments in several countries are taking the issue seriously, notes Fortune. For example, in France, use of the smartphone is banned in the primary and middle schools.

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