Apple investors seek protections against iPhone addiction among kids

HARTFORD --  Two major Apple investors are calling on the tech giant to up their protections for kids and teens against becoming addicted to their iPhones.

The California State Teachers Retirement Systems and Jana Partners posted a letter online urging Apple to do more to fight iPhone addiction for children and teens.  The letter stated the investors see a “clear need for Apple to offer parents more choices and tools” to help ensure young people are using Apple products in an optimal manner.

The letter cited a list of studies highlighting the negative impacts of digital device overuse, including lack of sleep, depression, and suicide.

Amy Alamar, an educator and author, said there are some telltale signs to know when your child has become dependent on their device.

“When you’re child can’t be without the device it’s gone too far.  If you’re seeing that they’re sneaking away and they’re doing a lot of things kind of covertly that’s a sign, if they’re saying ‘I just need this, or just a couple more minutes’,” Alamar said.

She stressed when a device is lacking specific parental controls it is time for parents to step in.

“You need to limit the time and model it, you show them how to do it.  You keep the devices in a common place, a lot of people like the kitchen drawer,” Alamar said.  She went on to say this is not an all or nothing issue as many smartphone and tablet devices are important to extracurricular activities and homework.

“This is who they are this is part of their generation and this is part of what they’re going to have as their tool in this world, so we don’t want to alienate them from devices we just want to teach them responsible use if it,” Alamar explained

The two shareholders calling on Apple for more sophisticated parental controls own roughly $2 billion in Apple stock.

FOX61 did reach out to Apple for a comment, but have not yet heard back.  The company did send a statement to USA Today on Tuesday saying there are parental controls already available on its devices, but that they do plan to introduce tools to make them more “robust.”  The company stated:

"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.  We lead the industry by offering intuitive parental controls built right into the operating system."