A couple of Apple investors recently asked the company to do more to protect children from smartphone addiction. They say that iPhone addiction is not only real, but that it causes an increased risk of anxiety, depression and even suicide for Apples youngest users. Is Apple likely to listen to the preaching?
Likely, yes, considering the choir are big fish investors in Apple. The California State Teachers’ Retirement System and the JANA Partners Investment group together own more than 2 billion in Apple stock. In addition to authoring an open letter to Apple on January 6, 2018, the two groups also established a website where they published the Open Letter to the public.
The open letter cites some very alarming conclusions about smartphone addiction. For instance, the average American teen gets their first cell phone at the age of 10 and spends nearly 5 hours a day on it, the investors wrote. They added that 78 percent of teens check their phones on at least an hourly basis, while 50 percent admit to having an addiction to their phone. So the question arises, are makers of smartphones solely responsible for restricting access to kids, while at the same time other technology giants are doing the exact opposite? And where does parental responsibility begin and end in all of this?
The social media giant Facebook just recently launched a new messaging platform – and it’s targeting children directly. The app called Messenger Kids has recently put the social media giant at the forefront of this debate. Knowing the adverse effects of children’s phone addiction, should social media companies be targeting young children? Messenger Kids target market are children under the age of 13, and it encourages kids to to send photos, videos and texts to other children.
Is there a contradiction here? One tech company is being asked to limit kids usage, while the other is encouraging it. Do you blame the smartphone giant or the social media giant, both who highly depend on young consumers for their future market share.
In a dog eat dog tech world, maybe the best answer is that everyone is responsible. When it comes to children’s safety and technology, the best solution is likely a three pronged approach. Everyone including Apple, Facebook and parents should all work together to ensure that kids are safe from a tech overload.
The iPhone and the Facebook App should each provide parents with all the necessary tools to enable parents to properly monitor and regulate their children to ensure their well being. Parents should then proactively use those tools to prevent phone addiction before it starts. Here is some good information on phone addiction, treatment options and case studies that show how phone addiction can negatively impact brain development in our children. Let us know what you think about this important topic in our comments section.