Apple Skirts Tech Addiction Issue in Response to Worried Investors | Smartphones

By John P. Mello Jr.

Jan 10, 2018 5:00 AM PT

Apple on Monday responded to an open letter from traders who known as for the company to handle the unfavorable affect of the iPhone on kids and youths. Though the company listed a variety of controls supplied to assist dad and mom display content material, it provided little to handle the traders’ chief concern: the period of time teenagers and youthful kids spend on telephones.

Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which collectively have invested about US$2 billion in Apple, on Saturday printed the letter, which urges Apple to offer dad and mom extra decisions and instruments to assist make sure that younger customers are utilizing the company’s merchandise “in an optimal manner.”

There is a rising physique of proof that frequent use of Apple’s merchandise by younger individuals could possibly be having unintentional unfavorable penalties, notes the letter, which is signed by Jana Managing Partner Barry Rosenstein and CalSTRS’ Director of Corporate Governance Anne Sheehan.

The common American teenager who makes use of a smartphone first obtains a cellphone at age 10 and spends greater than four.5 hours a day on it — excluding texting and speaking, Rosenstein and Sheehan identified.

Seventy-eight p.c of teenagers test their telephones not less than hourly, and 50 p.c report feeling “addicted” to their telephones, they added.

“It would defy common sense to argue that this level of usage, by children whose brains are still developing, is not having at least some impact, or that the maker of such a powerful product has no role to play in helping parents to ensure it is being used optimally,” Rosenstein and Sheehan wrote.

Apple Responds

Apple touted its efforts to take care of the pursuits of each children and fogeys inside its ecosystem in a press release launched to the press on Monday.

The company’s working system has built-in controls in its working system that allow dad and mom to manage and limit content material, Apple mentioned, together with apps, motion pictures, web sites, songs and books.

Parents can also block or limit mobile information utilization, management passwords, and block children from accessing or downloading something on-line.

Apple retains offensive content material resembling pornography out of its curated platforms, and it clearly labels apps, motion pictures and songs to permit dad and mom to guage age-appropriateness, the assertion maintains.

Further, the company promised so as to add new, extra strong options and performance to its mother or father controls sooner or later.

Kudos for Investors

The Apple traders who known as on the company to handle the potential unfavorable penalties of its cell merchandise gained reward from James P. Steyer, CEO of
Common Sense Media.

“We are very pleased to see that leading shareholders have spoken out about their concerns for the health and safety of kids on cell phones and online,” he mentioned. “It is a hugely important development for shareholders to take public action like this on digital addiction and inappropriate cellphone behavior.”

Apple ought to take a extra proactive stance in addressing the problem of dependancy, tweeted
Tony Fadell, coinventor of the iPod and iPhone.

‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’

Although Apple has broad shoulders, dropping the total weight of expertise dependancy on it could be a bit unfair.

“The iPhone is not any more problematic than other handheld devices that provide access to social media and games,” mentioned Timothy A. Pychyl, an affiliate professor within the psychology division at
Carleton University.

“We are, as Neil Postman said, ‘amusing ourselves to death’ across many platforms,” he instructed TechNewsWorld.

“We waste a considerable amount of our lives playing with technology. By that, I don’t mean gaming per se, but in mindless clicking to view content that has no consequence to us other than entertainment,” Pychyl mentioned. “These constant distractions are undermining our ability to move forward on our own goals and, as other researchers have pointed out, typically undermine our well being.”

Jonesing for a Screen

As earnest as Apple could also be to offset the unfavorable affect of expertise on kids’s lives, it could be an uphill battle.

“I don’t know if we can make technology less addictive,” noticed
Gregory Jantz, creator of Ten Tips for Parenting the Smartphone Generation.

When tech addicts test in at Jantz’s treatment middle, each system with a display is quarantined, he instructed TechNewsWorld.

“About the second day, people start getting sweaty palms, headaches, upset digestion — their heart rate increases. They’re going through physical withdrawal, and they demand to have their devices back,” Jantz mentioned.

“I don’t think it’s a fair expectation to expect Apple to deal with addiction,” he added. “Apple has done some great things with parental control on devices, but that’s not going to make them nonaddictive.”

A Software Problem

Use of the time period “addiction” to explain obsessive smartphone conduct will be problematic, cautioned Joseph Lee, youth continuum medical director on the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

“Obsession with video games and Internet pornography is a closer parallel to what we see with substance use than text messaging or using an app,” he instructed TechNewsWorld.

“You can be conditioned to be compulsive about a lot of different behaviors, but addiction only starts to surface when those compulsive behaviors and preoccupation start to take you away from life priorities,” Lee defined.

Compulsive conduct is extra a software program than drawback, he added.

“It’s not about battery life or a fancy screen. It’s the things within that technology, like social media, that become very rewarding and habitual,” Lee mentioned. “Those things come with strings attached. They influence people’s thinking, and they influence our national culture, and we’re not fully aware of the ramifications from that yet.”

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter
since 2003. His areas of focus embrace cybersecurity, IT points, privateness, e-commerce, social media, synthetic intelligence, large information and shopper electronics. He has written and edited for quite a few publications, together with the Boston Business Journal, the
Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government
Security News
. Email John.

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