If you’ve been around children and teenagers in the last five years or so, you know exactly what the problem is. They never put down their smartphones. At any given time their thumbs are tapping away on a game or social media, and they have headphones plugged into their ears continuously.
A couple of Apple investors are concerned with the addiction aspect among children and teens in relation to their devices, specifically iPhones. They’d like iOS to come packed with features that will limit use among younger users.
Apple listened to their pleas, and they have set plans in motion to add more parental controls to deal with their investors’ concerns.
Two investment groups – Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs) – that have a combined $2 billion in Apple shares wrote a letter – a public letter – asking the tech company to to look into studies that suggest a growing addiction problem among children and teens with regards to smartphones.
A 2016 report states that the average age for children to get their first phone is now 10.3. Many phones are even aimed directly at children to keep them safer and perhaps stave off addiction, but the kids want what they see others use. They want iPhones.
They requested that Apple add safety features to iOS that would allow parents to set limits on their children’s use of their phones.
Studies were quoted in the letter showing negative outcomes from this smartphone addiction, such as a higher amount of distraction in the classroom and an even larger risk of depression and suicide. But the letter asked Apple to conduct their own research to look into how children’s mental health is affected by heavy use of phones.
The two groups want to see Apple put their known innovation to good use and initiate solutions to this product before the problem gets any worse.
The timing of this public letter also comes into play. It was published just before this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, which is sure to introduce a whole new line of gadgets that will appeal to a younger demographic.
Apple is already stepping up to the plate to help curtail this problem. They are setting plans in motion to add features to iOS that will help parents control their children’s smartphone use.
“Apple has always looked out for kids, and we work hard to create powerful products that inspire, entertain, and educate children while also helping parents protect them online,” said an Apple rep in a statement.
“We have new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make these tools even more robust,” added the rep.
It’s unknown exactly how Apple plans to combat this problem, but their solution will add to the current parental controls already installed in iOS, such as controlling and restricting apps, websites, movies, and music.
It Takes Parental Diligence
The saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and this is certainly true, and is the reason the investors needed to step in here.
But that doesn’t mean that parents are completely off the hook. They still need to exert some type of rules and control of their children’s mobile devices, and even their own mobile devices.
Young children see their parents playing on their smartphones, and they of course want to do the same. Sometimes to placate their children and keep them busy, parents will open a game or movie on their phone and then hand it to their child.
It’s easy to see how this addiction problem starts. It will probably be more difficult to solve than it was to start, but at least it seems Apple and its investors are on the right track. Hopefully, parents will be as well.