According to a story from the Wall Street Journal, Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System sent a letter to Apple asking the iPhone maker to “develop new software tools that would help parents control and limit phone use more easily and to study the impact of overuse on mental health.”
The two groups control about $2 billion in Apple stock, which is a small chunk given the company’s market value is over $900 billion.
The iPhone already features certain parental controls, which help parents limit or block kids from using certain apps. But the pair of investors want the company to do more to limit usage and better understand the mental health effects of using smartphones, and they’ve enlisted Dr. Jean M. Twenge from San Diego State University to help.
Per the Journal:
The investors believe both the content and the amount of time spent on phones need to be tailored to youths, and they are raising concern about the public-health effects of failing to act. They point to research from Ms. Twenge and others about a “growing body of evidence” of “unintentional negative side effects,” including studies showing concerns from teachers. That is one reason Calstrs was eager to support the campaign, according to the letter.
Twenge wrote about the issue of smartphones and kids in a story published by The Atlantic in September.
I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet.
Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.
With the iPhone being the best-selling tech gadget of 2017, Twenge and her colleagues probably have a tall task ahead of them, but one that may turn out to be worthwhile.