"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" on their health, said Jana Partners LLC and California State Teachers' Retirement System (Calstrs) in a letter sent to Apple dated January 6 and made public Monday.
In a statement, Apple said it has a "long history" of parental controls.
In an open letter to Apple on Monday, the investors suggested the company goes a step further and allow users' ages to be inputted into phones, screen time to be limited, as well as a restriction on use to certain hours.
- An American Psychological Association survey that found that of over 3,500 USA parents, 58% say they worry about the influence of social media on their child's physical and mental health; 48% say regulating their child's screen time is a "constant battle"; and 58% say they feel like their child is "attached" to their phone or tablet. "We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids". We have new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make these tools even more robust.
As one of the leading activist investors in the U.S., Jana is known to advocate for change in companies it is invested in.
David Benoit, the Wall Street Journal reporter who broke the story, says there might be a benefit in doing so.
Now, half of all teens report that they feel "addicted" to their smartphones, according to the Common Sense Census.
Selena Gomez cancelled the European leg of her world tour in 2016 to seek therapy for depression and low self-esteem, which she linked to the autoimmune disease lupus - as well as her addiction to social media and the mobile photo-sharing app Instagram. "They now have a responsibility & need to start helping us track & manage our digital addictions across all usages - phone, laptop, TV etc".
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. Of course, we are constantly looking for ways to make our experiences better. "In fact, we believe addressing this issue now by offering parents more tools and choices could enhance Apple's business and increase demand for its products".
"We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them", Apple said in a statement.