Two of Apple’s major shareholders, hedge fund Jana and CalSTRS, a retirement management company, sent an open letter to Apple expressing their concern about the growing addiction of children and teens to iPhones. These companies jointly hold about $2 billion in Apple shares.
Apple responded by citing the fact that since 2008 the iPhone software has allowed parents to control which movies, apps, and games children may access. However, experts and parents believe these controls are not effective enough. According to a 2016 survey half of American teens feel pressured to immediately answer their phone and text messages. Additional surveys have shown links between heavy use of such devices and negative mental health effects, including increased risk of teen suicide.
The shareholders proposed several steps Apple could take to start addressing this issue, mostly involving appointing an executive or committee to begin oversight and research. Another suggestion involved Apple adding new options to smartphones giving parents greater control over selecting age-appropriate material.