Apple has been urged to address growing concerns over smartphone addition and the potential long term effects on younger users’ mental health.
Two Apple shareholders penned an open letter to the firm urging it to make changes to the iOS enabling parents to limit time children spend on the phone.
Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which together control 0.2% of Apple stocks, beleive Apple would be wise to set up an advisory board to monitor the effects of excessive smartphone use.
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“Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do,” the letter stated (via Telegraph).
“There is a developing consensus around the world, including Silicon Valley, that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility.”
The shareholders have been working with San Diego State University professor Dr. Jean Twenge, who authored the book iGen.
In the letter, she tells Apple there’s “a clear need for Apple to offer parents more choices and tools to help them ensure young consumers are using your products in an optimal matter.”
As part of her research Professor Twenge says teenagers who spend more than three hours a day using electronic devices are 35% more likely to become a suicide risk. If they spend five or more hours a day using digital devices, the risk rises to an alarming 71%.
iOS’s parental controls currently include the ability to place restrictions on using certain apps, but there’s no way for parents to limit the time children spend using the device itself.
Apple has not commented on the letter.
Its position at the very top of the tech tree often makes Cupertino a lightning rod for such issues. However, it undoubtedly holds more sway than any other company in the industry and any moves it makes would doubtless reverberate.
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