IT&Software

Apple plans more features for parents to control children's phone use

Apple plans more features for parents to control children's phone use

In an open letter to Apple on Monday, New York-based Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) said the firm must do more to help children fight addiction on its devices.

In an interview Tuesday with CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report,"Jana's Barry Rosenstein and Charles Penner explained why Jana - a leading activist shareholder - and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, or CalSTRS - one of the nation's largest public pension plans - are putting pressure on Apple to address this issue".

Half of teenagers in the USA feel like they are addicted to their mobile phones and report feeling pressure to immediately respond to phone messages, according to a 2016 survey of children and their parents by Common Sense Media.

"Apple is just the delivery device", said Mr Forrest, who said Fort Pitt has limited Apple holdings.

The call came from two investment groups that hold $2bn (£1.48bn) of Apple stock between them. "I can control my kids' decisions, which is that they're not allowed to use that s--" he told The Guardian.

Chamath Palihapitiya, vice-president for user growth at Facebook before he left the company in 2011 is likewise disavowing the very products and customer-retention techniques he used to spearhead. He said he feels "tremendous guilt" about the company he helped make. Apple did not say when these features should debut, but it's likely they'll only arrive later this year at best, once iOS 12 rolls out.

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With many apps, sites and devices being created to be as addictive as possible to grow user numbers and maintain eyeballs on screens, children are increasingly being either seen as collateral damage or specifically targeted as the next generation of users.

Apple did not provide a timeline for the release of its updated parental control features. Restrictions can also be placed on access to some apps, content and data usage.

"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 wrote.

"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 investors wrote in a letter dated January 6.

"Apple Watches, Google Phones, Facebook, Twitter - they've gotten so good at getting us to go for another click, another dopamine hit", Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive, said on Twitter. The company also says, however, that it has "new features and enhancements" planned for the future to improve parental controls. Apple isn't exclusively to blame, given the availability of social-media apps, but it was also urged to conduct research into heavy use on young mental health.

- Research showing 8th graders who are heavy users of social media have a 27% higher risk of depression, while those who exceed the average time spent playing sports, hanging out with friends, or doing homework have a much lower risk. The studies show personal devices distract kids in school, and affect children's physical and mental health.