Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Shareholders urge Apple to address child addiction (audio)

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UNITED STATES: Two major Apple investors have urged the iPhone maker to help curb smartphone addiction among children, highlighting growing concern about the effects of gadgets and social media on youngsters.
New York-based Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System said in open letter to Apple that the company must offer more choices and tools to help children fight addiction to its devices.

The two investors collectively control about $2.5 billion worth of Apple shares.
“Apple can play a defining role in signalling 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 letter said.
Among their proposals to Apple: establish a committee of experts, including child development specialists; offer Apple’s “vast information resources” to researchers; and enhance mobile device software so that parents have more options to protect their children’s health.
The letter cited various studies on the negative effects of smartphones and social media on children’s mental and physical health.
Examples include distractions by digital technologies in the classroom, a decreased ability of students to focus on educational tasks, and higher risks of suicide and depression.
A study published in November suggested that heavy smartphone use and social media exposure among teens may contribute to depression and other traits linked with suicide.

But that and similarly designed research cannot rule out that already troubled teens may be more likely than others to be frequent users of smartphones and social media.
The addiction issue gained notoriety when former Disney child star Selena Gomez said she cancelled a 2016 world tour to go to therapy for depression and low self-esteem, feelings she linked to a social media addiction.
Fears about smartphone addiction have already kicked off regulatory backlash. In December, the French education minister said mobile phones would be banned in schools, and draft legislation in France would require children under 16 to seek parental approval to open a Facebook account.
Even tech insiders are among the vocal critics of social media and its addictive potential.
“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.

-ABC news
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