Should Phone Manufacturers Bear Responsibility for Kids Getting Addicted to Their Phones?

Recently we published the news that after some investors were critical of Apple, concerned with the possibility of children and teens becoming addicted to their devices, Apple decided to do something about it and announced they would be adding more parental controls. Should they be responsible for kids’ use of of their devices? We asked our writers, “Should phone manufacturers bear responsibility for kids getting addicted to their phones?”

Damien thinks it’s “easy to put the blame on the phone manufacturers, but the biggest culprits are the parents who allow their children to get addicted by giving them access to phones at a young age.” He suggests that parents should take responsibility as well as precautions to prevent such things from happening.

Phil sees it the same way, noting, “It’s all too easy to use tech as a digital babysitter, but especially in the young it breeds a habit of boredom avoidance.” He doesn’t believe phone manufacturers should bear any responsibility, nor should the manufacturers of computers, TV sets, or satellite dishes. He believes this is a parent’s job to be sure their “kids can amuse themselves and have space in their young brains for their own ideas and output rather than constantly seeking passive input from outside.”

Alex puts it a little differently, explaining, “[Phone manufacturers] can and certainly should provide tools to empower parents, but they by no means bear responsibility.”

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Simon believes “a manufacturer should only be held accountable for making an addictive product if they deliberately put in tactics and tricks to make them more addictive,” such as loot boxes in games. But breaking down the reasons people become so addicted to their phones, he doesn’t believe it’s anything that the phone manufacturers are adding. He sees the reason for the addiction as “the apps, the services, and – in the case of children – the lack of parental guidance and care.” He thinks a wise action would be to see what could be done for the addiction rather than blame the manufacturers.

Robert sees it very similarly as the others, wanting to see “parents have control and awareness over what their children are consuming.” Adults can be affected the same way unless they exert self-discipline, and they need to teach that to their children. Since there are already apps that allow parental controls, it’s up to the parents to use such safeguards. He’d also like to see more attention directed toward specific apps, services, and games, with parents controlling their access.

Miguel falls right in line here, adding the analogy that “if a child smokes, I don’t blame Marlboro for it. If they get a scrape while playing basketball, I wouldn’t put the blame on Dunlop.” He doesn’t believe it’s always a parent’s responsibility and would like to see people take personal responsibility. “As a parent, I can either be the ‘tutor’ to my children, or I can let society and government take that role.” He prefers the former rather than the latter.

I wholeheartedly agreed with all of the above. It’s great for phone manufacturers to provide the help to parents, but it can’t be the only measure that is taken. It’s true what they say, it takes a village to raise a child, but the village can’t be the only ones raising the child. The brunt of that work needs to come from the parents.

Do you agree with everyone here that parents need to take a more proactive role in preventing children from becoming addicted to their devices? Or do you think more of that effort should fall on the shoulders of the phone manufacturers? Should phone manufacturers bear responsibility for kids getting addicted to their phones? Let us know in the comments section how you feel about this issue.

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