Citing the popularity of Apple's phones and tablets among children and teenagers, two large investors say the company should do more to help parents protect their kids from the risks of digital addiction and the side effects of social media.
Together, California's teacher pension fund, or CalSTRS, and the Jana Partners investment group own more than $2 billion in Apple stock. In a letter to the tech giant's board, they're calling on Apple to give parents options beyond a "binary" system in which tools and functions are either freely available or closed off.
Warning against handing a child or teenager "the same phone as a 40-year-old," the investors had these suggestions for Apple:
"For example, the initial setup menu could be expanded so that, just as users choose a language and time zone, parents can enter the age of the user and be given age-appropriate setup options based on the best available research including limiting screen time, restricting use to certain hours, reducing the available number of social media sites, setting up parental monitoring, and many other options."
Better controls, CalSTRS and Jana said, could help minimize "unintentional negative consequences" of overusing digital devices and spending too much time on social media. They urged Apple to apply its knack for innovation to help protect the physical and mental health of its youngest users.
"The average American teenager who uses a smart phone receives her first phone at age 10 and spends over 4.5 hours a day on it (excluding texting and talking)," the investors wrote, adding that "78 percent of teens check their phones at least hourly and 50 percent report feeling 'addicted' to their phones."
To spread awareness of the issue, CalSTRS and Jana created a website, Think Differently About Kids.