iPhone makers asked to own responsibility for kids mental status too

Shareholders send Apple open letter to evaluate smartphone addiction

Apple iPhon
Apple iPhon Reuters & Pixabay

Since the evolution of smartphones, tech giant Apple has been at the helms of the market. Mobiles have engrossed children, who have started treating the gadgets as their best friends. Now, two of Apple's shareholders have asked the Cupertino-based company to take some social responsibility.

Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), who together hold a total of about $2 billion in Apple shares, sent a letter to the tech giant and asked it to study the impact of these appliances on child development.

The letter, signed by Rosenstein and CalSTRS director of corporate governance Anne Sheehan, and the shareholders, has sought the iPhone makers to develop a new software tool, which will help parents to control and limit their wards' phone use. They also urged to the company "to study the impact of overuse on mental health."

Child development experts were consulted to review studies that observed the mental and emotional effects of using electronic devices on children, which include negative effects on concentration, emotional health, sleep and empathy.

The letter also cited research by psychologist and San Diego State University professor Jean Twenge titled, "iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy-and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood-and What That Means for the Rest of Us."

In the book, Prof Twenge has stated that American teens spend three or more hours a day on an electronic appliance, which triggers the risk factor for suicide.

However, everybody knows that when it comes to the relationship between an iPhone and a child, playing video games is the main priority. However, gaming was found to affect the brain so severely that WHO (World Health Organization) classified it as a mental illness and named the condition as gaming disorder.

Rosenstein and Sheehan wrote in the letter that the iPhone and iPad-friendly social media sites and applications are designed in such a way that a consumer or user will get addicted to it. According to an American Psychological Association's study, 94 percent of parents try to restrict the use of technology of their kids. Hence, it would be an unrealistic business strategy if the company does not help parents in the social development procedure, they argued.

Both the stakeholders have proposed several steps that Apple can take to deal with the problem, such as tasking one of their executives to work on the issue and deliver the annual report, which is quite similar to their Environmental Responsibility Report.

They have also asked Apple to create a committee of child development experts and an addition of a new setup menu and some other software which will help parents to take appropriate steps according to their child's age.

This article was first published on January 9, 2018