Two major Apple investors have raised concerns over the addictive nature of the devices among children and have asked the tech giant to do something about it.
"By doing so, we believe Apple would once again be playing a pioneering role, this time by setting an example about the obligations of technology companies to their youngest customers", wrote Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, which together own a $2 billion stake in Apple. This also includes parental education on the available research and options available to help them make more informed decisions on their child's device usage. Apple's iOS already offers limited parental controls, including restrictions on apps, use of features such as location sharing and access to certain kinds of content.
Jana, a leading activist shareholder, and CalSTRS, one of the nation's largest public pension plans, delivered a letter to Apple on Saturday asking the company to consider developing software that would allow parents to limit children's phone use, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Sunday.
"We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them", Apple said in the statement.
The investors cited several studies on the negative effects on children's mental and physical health caused by heavy usage of smartphones and social media.
The open letter reflects growing concerns on the long-term impact of technology such as smartphones and social media on children.
More recently, former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, said he felt "tremendous guilt" over the creation of the site and urged people to take a "hard break" from social media which he said was "ripping apart the social fabric of how society works".
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.
"CalSTRS has a long-standing, collaborative relationship with Apple, and we look forward to, and offer support, for their ongoing proactive technological developments which align with our investment priorities to reduce risk and increase the profitability of our portfolio".