Investors Demand Apple Tackle Phone Addiction

John Lister's picture

Two of Apple's big investors want the company to tackle 'smartphone addiction' among younger users. They say failing to address the problem now could hurt the company's value in the long term.

The call comes from investment management company Jana Partners, along with the managers of retirement plans for teachers in California. Between them they hold around $2 billion of Apple Stock, though that is only around one fifth of one percent of the entire company. (Source:

They cited research that says using smartphones too much can mean students don't get enough sleep and pay less attention in class. They also noted that heavy social media use could affect self-esteem. Although the groups noted that many factors affect mental health in youngsters, they said it was obvious that phone use played a role.

Parental Controls Too Simplistic

One study claimed the average teenager in America spends more than 4.5 hours a day using a smartphone, and that figure doesn't include time spent making voice calls or exchanging text messages.

According to an open letter from the investors, the big problem is that parental control systems don't offer enough flexibility, effectively having simply an on or off setting for particular functions. They called for more tools such as the ability to limit the time a child can use the phone for each day. (Source:

The letter also suggested that the phone set-up process included an option to input the child's age and automatically select a range of age-appropriate setting such as the hours during which the child can use the phone and the services they can and can't use.

Investors Call For More Research

The investors also called for Apple to set up a committee of experts on child development, research the topic further, and provide annual reports similar to those Apple makes on its environmental programs and the employment practices of its suppliers.

They added that "we believe the long-term health of its youngest customers and the health of society, our economy, and the Company itself, are inextricably linked."

What's Your Opinion?

Are the investors right to raise this topic? Do you think such pressure will cause Apple to take action? Can parental control settings be effective or will they always be outwitted by tech-savvy teens?

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