Apple investors push firm to address child tech addiction

Apple investors push firm to address child tech addiction
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Two of Apple’s largest investors are pushing for the company to address the harms of children spending large amounts of time on electronic devices.

Investing firm Jana Partners and The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) told Apple in an open letter on Monday that the technology firm needs to more seriously reflect on how its products can hurt children in the long term and that it should take action to prevent this.

“We have reviewed the evidence and we believe there is a clear need for Apple to offer parents more choices and tools to help them ensure that young consumers are using your products in an optimal manner,” the two wrote.

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“Apple can play a defining role in signaling 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.”

Jana and CalSTRS together own $2 billion worth of Apple shares, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The two investment groups urged Apple to bring on a team of experts to more closely examine the effects of extended screen time during childhood.

Based on this research, Jana and CalSTRS propose Apple should potentially make changes to their products, like introducing software that would better equip parents to monitor and limit their child’s use of electronic devices.

Jana and CalSTRS explained their push as not just an ethical one, but also as a move that could help Apple’s long-term revenue growth that “will enhance and protect value.”

“Increasingly today the gap between 'short-term' and 'long-term' thinking is narrowing, on issues like public health, human capital management, environmental protection, and more, and companies pursuing business practices that make short-term sense may be undermining their own long-term viability,” they wrote.

“In the case of Apple, we believe the long-term health of its youngest customers and the health of society, our economy, and the Company itself, are inextricably linked.”

The letter to Apple comes as some groups and individuals in Silicon Valley are beginning to acknowledge warnings from academics about technology’s impact on children’s health.

Former Facebook President Sean Parker explained in November that the platform benefited from exploiting human psychology.

“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he said.

Another former top Facebook employee, Chamath Palihapitiya, similarly criticized social media.

“I can control my decision, which is that I don’t use that shit. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use that shit,” he said.