Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images
Apple Plans More Features for Parents to Control Kids' Phone UseBy
IPhone maker responds to investor concern about health impact
Jana, Calstrs have called for study on mental health effects
Apple Inc. said it plans new features to help parents control how children use its smartphones, responding to criticism from two shareholders about the entrancing qualities and potential mental health impact of the company’s iPhone.
"Apple has always looked out for kids, and we work hard to create powerful products that inspire, entertain, and educate children while also helping parents protect them online," a spokeswoman said late Monday in a statement.
IPhones and other Apple devices running the company’s iOS operating system let parents control and restrict what their children consume, including apps, movies, websites, songs and books, as well as cellular data, according to Apple.
"We have new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make these tools even more robust," the Apple spokeswoman added.
In a letter to the smartphone maker dated Jan. 6, activist investor Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System urged Apple to create more ways for parents to restrict children’s access to their mobile phones. They also want the company to study the effects of heavy usage on mental health.
“There is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent young users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences,” according to the letter from the investors, who combined own about $2 billion in Apple shares. The “growing societal unease” is “at some point is likely to impact even Apple.”