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Apple Shareholders: Protect Kids from iPhone Addiction

Apple Shareholders: Protect Kids from iPhone Addiction

Smartphones have become one of the most widely used consumer products in the last decade or so, and Apple’s iPhone (originally released in 2007) has played a significant role in letting that happen. But in the last few years, there has been plenty of discussion about the potential danger of too much smartphone use, not only for adults, for also when it comes to kids. Two Apple shareholders are recently asking Apple to do something about it.

The two shareholders are Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. When combined, they hold a $2 billion stake in Apple. In an open letter (read the full version here), both parties are basically asking the iPhone maker to make a conscious effort to address the issue of smartphone addiction, especially among the youth. 

The shareholders also took the opportunity to request Apple to adopt a more socially responsible approach when it comes to helping moms and dads be more effective in managing mobile usage for their little children. The two also cite the power and influence of Apple’s brand, and if the company decides to set a good example for the mobile industry, other phone makers and tech companies will almost certainly follow in its footsteps.

According to a report released by the social agency Influence Central back in 2016, the average age for kids who get their first handset is 10.3 years old. It is quite possible that this average age may go lower, as more and more mobile manufacturers release basic entry level devices that are designed to be used for those even younger than 10 years old. 

Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System have also pointed out in their open letter that there is an increasing amount evidence of a link between too much smartphone use among kids and various negative effects, which include the risk of developing mental health issues. 

Apple has some power in helping prevent these potential problems for kids later on. Both shareholders are recommending that the tech giant assemble an expert committee, or conduct research or educational efforts to address the issue of smartphone addiction among kids. Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System argue that Apple is perfectly capable of supporting various environmental and social causes, so it should have no problem adding the protection of kids from mobile addiction to its list.

Mobile addiction is still a fiercely debated topic. While there are those who are expressing their worries about too much smartphone use, there are others who are not so sure. For instance, the results of a Stanford University experiment seem to suggest that people are better off with their mobile devices within reach (but not necessarily being used) than not having any smartphone present at all.