Investors have recently called on Apple to add more parental controls to its devices to help in limiting things such as use time for young children. Following the company’s announcement that it would add more “robust” controls in a future update, Tim Cook has addressed the topic in an interview…
Speaking in the United Kingdom today regarding Apple’s Everyone Can Code curriculum, Apple CEO Tim Cook briefly addressed the topic of iPhone addiction, seemingly casting blame on social media, and the “overuse” of technology.
“I don’t have a kid,” said the 57-year-old Cook, “but I have a nephew that I put some boundaries on. There are some things that I won’t allow; I don’t want them on a social network.”
A debate has raged over whether smartphones, social media, or a combination of factors is leading children — and many adults — to stay glued to their devices, awaiting text and other communications. Earlier this month, shareholders called for Apple to address what they deemed childrens’ iPhone addiction, and in response, Apple rapidly pledged to enhance iOS’s parental controls.
According to The Guardian, Cook said that he does not “believe in overuse” of technology, noting that “I’m not a person that says we’ve achieved success if you’re using it all the time,” he said. “I don’t subscribe to that at all.”
He also explained that technology should not have a major role in academic subjects where it’s not needed. “In a course on literature, do I think you should use technology a lot? Probably not.”
The comments come ahead of the company’s Q1 2018 earnings on February 1, where Apple is expected to report record-breaking device sales numbers. Apple recently announced plans to inject billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, including product support and manufacturing efforts for the next five years.
iPhones and other smartphones truly are addictive, and we’re spending more time staring at them than ever. Meanwhile, Q4 smartphone sales utterly eclipsed PC sales. But where is this going?
Summarizing current analysis:
- PC sales have fallen from their 2011 365 million per year peak to 263 million in 2017.
- Smartphone sales have grown from a figure hovering around nothing in 2007 to 1.5 billion last year.
- China is the biggest smartphone market, followed by India and then the U.S.
“Soon consumer PCs will be extinct (only used by pro and semi-pro users),” claims mobile industry analyst Tomi Ahonen.
(Reuters) — Apple shareholders Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System are urging the smartphone maker to take steps to address what they say is a growing problem of young people getting addicted to Apple’s iPhones, Jana partner Charles Penner said.
Jana, a leading activist shareholder, and CalSTRS, one of the nation’s largest public pension plans, delivered a letter to Apple on Saturday asking the company to consider developing software that would allow parents to limit children’s phone use, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Sunday.
Jana and CalSTRS also asked Apple to study the impact of excessive phone use on mental health, according to the publication.
CalSTRS and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Jana and CalSTRS together control about $ 2 billion worth of Apple shares, the Journal reports.
The social rights issue is a new turn for Jana, which is known for pushing companies it invests in to make financial changes.
However, the issue of phone addiction among young people has become a growing concern in the United States as parents report their children cannot give up their phones. CalSTRS and Jana worry that Apple’s reputation and stock could be hurt if it does not address those concerns, according to the Journal.
Half of teenagers in the United States feel like they are addicted to their mobile phones and report feeling pressure to immediately respond to phone messages, according to a 2016 survey of children and their parents by Common Sense Media.
The phone addiction issue got a high-profile boost from the former Disney child star Selena Gomez, 24, who said she canceled a 2016 world tour to go to therapy for depression and low self-esteem, feelings she linked to her addiction to social media and the mobile photo-sharing app Instagram.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
Apple has a response of sorts to activist shareholders concerned about kids’ addiction to iPhones: Enhanced parental controls are coming to iOS.
Ahead of Apple’s annual shareholder meeting next month, Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) asked Apple this week for new software to let parents limit kids’ iPhone use, and to conduct a study on the effects of excessive phone use on mental health. With roughly $ 2 billion in Apple stock, Jana and CalSTRS were able to get Apple’s attention, leading the company to issue a statement reproduced in full below.
In short, Apple states that it has “always looked out for kids,” leads the industry in OS-level parental controls, and thinks “deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have.” Without providing any details or committing to the mental health study, Apple says that it has “new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make these [parental control] tools even more robust.”
The issue of iPhone addiction — and portable device addiction in general — has been in the background for years, but recently benefited from additional attention. As noted in an earlier Reuters report, former Disney star Selena Gomez revealed that she’d canceled a tour due to depression she attributed to social media addiction, and a 2016 survey suggested that half of teenagers felt addicted to their mobile phones and were pressured to immediately respond to phone messages. The issue of how much parents should control their kids’ viewing habits — and thus their kids — has continued to percolate in popular media such as the TV show Black Mirror, without reaching a conclusive answer.
Enhanced parental controls are likely to offer only a partial solution to the issues raised by Jana and CalSTRS. Present iOS controls, found in the General > Restrictions section of Settings, include a collection of switches to disable web browsing, camera and FaceTime functionality, file sharing, Siri, the News app, and various types of media acquisition. Parents can also prevent iOS devices from displaying content with explicit language, sexual content, or limited by age-specific ratings across movies, TV shows, and apps.
What iOS’ parental controls do not enable are meaningful time limits or granular oversight over specific pieces of content displayed on the device. A Guided Access feature enables the device as a whole to be time-limited for accessibility or gallery purposes, but not with separate times for separate apps. Similarly, parents cannot easily screen or approve of web content that might skirt certain rules; they can either whitelist a narrow collection of sites one at a time, or blacklist “adult content.” Perhaps most importantly, stronger parental controls won’t address underlying issues such as the erosion of in-person socialization and lowering of self-esteem currently being caused in part by social media.
Any major improvement to the parental controls in iOS is unlikely to debut until at least June, when Apple holds its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, and it could come later given the company’s standard development cycles for new features. The lag also gives Apple plenty of time to undertake a mental health study for kids, should it want to.
Apple’s full statement is as follows:
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. We lead the industry by offering intuitive parental controls built right into the operating system.
With today’s iOS devices, parents have the ability to control and restrict content including apps, movies, websites, songs and books, as well as cellular data, password settings and other features. Effectively anything a child could download or access online can be easily blocked or restricted by a parent.
We began delivering these controls for iPhone in 2008 with the introduction of the App Store, building on what we’d learned from offering similar features for the Mac a few years before iPhone was introduced. We also have a long history of curating our content platforms to make sure they are free of offensive material, such as pornography, and clearly labeled so parents can determine if an app, movie or song is age-appropriate. Of course, we are constantly looking for ways to make our experiences better. We have new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make these tools even more robust.
We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them. We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids.