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Apple Should Address Youth Phone Addiction, Say Two Large Investors (reuters.com) 159

Two large Apple shareholders, Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, are urging Apple 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. From a report: 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. Jana and CalSTRS together control about $2 billion worth of Apple shares, the Journal reports.
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Apple Should Address Youth Phone Addiction, Say Two Large Investors

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  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Monday January 08, 2018 @10:28AM (#55885229)
    They already make their phones more expensive than anything a kid should have. What else can they do apart from this public-spirited action ;-)
    • Bury something in the EULA about not being allowed to hand down iPhones to your kids when you upgrade.

      • Bury something in the EULA about not being allowed to hand down iPhones to your kids when you upgrade.

        My daughter got a new phone for Christmas, and gave me her old iPhone 6. So that EULA wouldn't affect me.

    • Apple do have a reputation for selling overpriced stuff.

      E.g. the replacement for to buy machine with the same Ram (16GB) and half the SSD size(512GB instead of 1024GB) of my 2012 Macbook Pro would cost $1,899.00. Even though the original machine was around $1100 and buying 16GB of Ram and a 1TB SSD from Crucial only cost about $400. So rather than paying $1100 up front to Apple and $400 to a third party when the machine gets a bit slow I need to pay $1900 up front and can't upgrade. That's a hefty price inc

    • Sad day when parental responsibility has eroded to the point that benevolent corporations such as Apple are tasked with protecting kids from themselves.

      • Amen! What kind of jobs do these kids have that would let them buy their own iPhone? No, they get them from their parents and it's totally the parents' responsibility for limiting the use of the phones. Apple, as much as I hate them, bears no responsibility for raising your children.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      They already make their phones more expensive than anything a kid should have. What else can they do apart from this public-spirited action ;-)

      No they dont.

      Iphones are not priced to be exclusive in the slightest. They're like the Toyota Camry of phones, white, boring, old tech and so common even someone on benefits can get a contract for one.

      Parent's aren't paying £1000 a pop for one, they're paying £75 a month over 24 months for one (that's with a family discount).

      You cant really get more average and peasant than an Iphone these days.

  • by e r ( 2847683 ) on Monday January 08, 2018 @10:30AM (#55885245)
    Let me get this straight: some super rich people are looking around and decide that they don't like "how all those young'uns are spending a lot of time on them there phones (that I'm making a lot of money on...). T'ain't right. We gotta get them kids to go out an' play!"
    How is it any of their business how other people run their own lives? Why isn't there a counter news article saying "butt out and mind your own business"?
    • "We must signal our virtue by threatening to take our money out of a business that provides a product that some teens and children use to distraction and feel addicted to even though it is the parents' and not the business's fault unless the business does something about this thing that is not their fault or even their problem because they make money for us and have deep pockets!"
      • by DogDude ( 805747 )
        What in the fuck are you even talking about? Did you read the article?
        • Yes, I did read the article. It is a couple of activist investor groups virtue signalling.
        • Let me be a bit clearer.

          This is not a problem with Apple's products. Apple provides a device, one that is very popular as a way to signal affluence and hipness, which is why a lot of kids want an Apple device. But, they only make up 35% or so of the market. The real problem is the services and the parents. But, the groups who are doing this are taking aim at Apple instead of the services because Apple is high profile and something they have stock in right now. They would have to adjust their portfolios to

          • by DogDude ( 805747 )
            If they actually cared about the problem, they would have researched the issue and then applied pressure where it would do the most good. Instead, they applied the pressure where it would get the most eyeballs. In all reality, they are not doing anything about the problem, they are just putting on a show to signal how deeply caring they are about children while not actually doing what it would take to fix the problem. It is like praying for the victims of a disaster and not actually sending aid.

            What the
            • If you had actually read my comment you would have seen this:

              This is not a problem with Apple's products. Apple provides a device, one that is very popular as a way to signal affluence and hipness, which is why a lot of kids want an Apple device. But, they only make up 35% or so of the market. The real problem is the services and the parents.

              The problem is not with the company. Apple doesn't give away iPhones. Apple doesn't own or control SnapChat, Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, or any of the other services. Apple doesn't even make most of the apps available on it's phones, Demanding Apple do something about something it does not control is not just futile, it shows either a basic misunderstanding of the issue or, much more likely, not actually caring about the problem and just wanting

            • Maybe analogies will help:

              "Kids are addicted to using third party services/websites on their phones. Apple should do something about that"
              "Kids are addicted to watching reality shows on TV. Samsung should do something about that"
              "Kids are addicted to watching sports on TV. Samsung should do something about that"
              "Kids are addicted to watching movies on HBO. Comcast should do something about that"
              "Kids are addicted to watching porn on the internet. Dell should do something about that"
              "Kids are addicted

    • The super-rich often school their children in low-tech or anti-tech Waldorf Steiner and Montessori schools. This is especially true of the offsping of the wealthy tech elite.
      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I think this is right, my question is why? I've run across this more than once with really smart people from public school backgrounds who have made it in technology and decide that their kids should go to some touchy-feely alternative school.

        An overly romantic view of education tied to some kind of idyllic liberal fantasy?

        A kind of bias that assumes technology is inherently easy (because they succeeded in the tech field)?

        Some kind of political bias? Nearly all those kinds of schools are about a half-step

      • I'm curious what differentiates these low-tech schools from normal schools. I graduated high school 10 years ago, and we were taught computer skills in computer courses, which would typically take about an hour each day. Things like basic video editing, basic HTML. In our other classes, we'd often have to type up our papers in Word or make a slideshow in PowerPoint to go with our presentation. (After many years of hand-writing those things to get penmanship skills.) Technology was present and utilized, but
      • Wait, what? "anti-tech Montessori schools?" You guys have those?

        Here on the East coast we only have the regular kind of Montessori schools, that give kids an early jump on techie stuff like physics and numbers.

    • by sound+vision ( 884283 ) on Monday January 08, 2018 @12:21PM (#55885955) Journal
      There are people who think that kids spending all day on the phone might not be healthy. Some of these people are rich. You did get that part straight.
      The part you didn't get straight is when you assumed that someone is telling someone else how to run their life. What's being proposed is for Apple to put software on their phones to facilitate parents who, on their own, make the decision to limit their kids' screen time.
    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      It's not a matter of "rich people don't like kids on their phones". I don't know how you got that from this little article. It sounds to me like a couple of groups are concerned for the health of people addicted to their phones. Take your meds and calm down.
  • They do their damnedest to ensure people use their phones as much as possible.
  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Monday January 08, 2018 @10:45AM (#55885333)

    The iParent app.

  • by foxalopex ( 522681 ) on Monday January 08, 2018 @10:53AM (#55885369)

    I think these investors are missing the point. You can be addicted to *anything*. But something that they've long pointed out is many addictions are the result of some other gap or need that is missing in life. I often get the impression that online a lot of folks are quite literally lonely. As much as you can make do with a virtual social life, I suspect having a real social life is a part of being human. So parents throwing their kids a near $1000 phone because they don't have time to deal with them is not really making the situation better. Instead encourage your kids to be with other kids in person and better yet take a more active approach to the community you belong to.

    • It coudl also be the opposite way. What if what humans need is just something to occupy them? In the past we had to settle for a social life to do that, and had to be nice to shitty people and tolerate opinions differing from our own. Now that we have personal mother boxes, we no longer need the crutch of social life to stave off boredom.

      • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
        Idle hands are the devils playground.... but what if people are now not doing fruitful things they would otherwise have been doing? Creating works of art, reading, writing, getting exercise and developing meat space social skills? That is a problem that will rear it's ugly head in the future, IMO.
        • Why is it a problem?

          • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
            Well, I did add "IMO." In my opinion, when people stop creating works of art, when they stop exercising and stop interacting socially in person, it's a problem. Have you seen the movie "surrogate?" I didn't think it was very prescient at the time.
    • by gfxguy ( 98788 )

      I'd mod you up, but have already posted in this thread. I'm not against giving kids phones (although there's a limit... I'm not talking about 5 and 6 year old kids - maybe double digits or older), but it's been shown that "online" socialization actually makes people more lonely and distanced from actual meat-space social life.

      But while you can be addicted to anything, some things are more addicting than others. The gratification of ever increasing number of online "friends" and "thumbs ups" to posts feeds

  • by zifn4b ( 1040588 ) on Monday January 08, 2018 @10:55AM (#55885383)
    Oh think of the children! We should:

    - Address profanity in music by censorship (Tipper Gore)
    - Address video game addiction (think World of Warcraft)
    - Address violence in video games because it's causing crime to increase
    - And now... TADA! Phone addiction

    These so-called "values groups" do the same thing every now and then. They claim X is going to ruin society and some overarching entity needs to intervene and forcefully make people "behave appropriately".

    This claim has been made again and again and again and every prediction of society turning into a bunch of lazy, dangerous degenerates proves to be false because it's not supported by any evidence. Get off your high horse and worry about yourself instead of thinking yourself superior and others being too stupid to think for themselves thus needing you to think for them.
    • by PoopJuggler ( 688445 ) on Monday January 08, 2018 @11:27AM (#55885609)
      Can you cite where in TFA they claim iPhones are turning kids "into a bunch of lazy, dangerous degenerates" ?
      You can't, because it doesn't. All they're saying is that the phones should have better parental controls, which is a perfectly reasonable thing.
    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      Get off your high horse and worry about yourself instead of thinking yourself superior and others being too stupid to think for themselves thus needing you to think for them.

      The people are asking for Apple to provide "parental-control" software so that parents can, well, parent.

      I give my four-year-old daughter an iPad to use for half an hour a day because I think that Sesame Street, Mr Rogers and a few games are a good way to grow up. I think that "having an adult always hovering over her shoulder" is a bad way for her to grow up, and creates bad expectations on her part. Nevertheless it's the only way I have to stop her delving into iPad stuff that she shouldn't.

      I decided to s

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      If what they claim is valid or not I do not know.

      There is however a difference between addiction and censorship.Music and violence is censorship. When pointed to kids, we already have censorship. In some places they are not allowed to hear bad words or to see female nipples.

      Addiction is a different thing. People are warned about the issues with cigarettes and other addictive things are either regulated, age restricted or both or forbidden.

      When it comes to addiction, I could see that there are several things

    • by Zorro ( 15797 )

      WOW and Profane Lyrics never caused anyone to die.

      Cell Phone Addiction causes car crashes and pedestrians to walk out in to traffic.

    • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
      The only comparable thing in your list is game addiction - and really, what is the problem with allowing a parent to set limits to the amount of time one of their own children can play games or use a phone? And if that's actually acceptable to you - you know, actually allowing a parent to parent - then what is the problem with giving them a technological tool to make it easier?
    • You seem to be confused about what's being proposed here, because "forceful intervention" doesn't describe any part of it. What's proposed is for Apple to develop software that lets parents who have chosen of their own volition to limit their own kids' screen time, to do so. The people proposing this are Apple shareholders - part-owners of the company.
  • Another article that bleats about the evils, the dangers, the perils of kids addicted to the latest X technology that is ruining society, making people anti-social, homicidal maniacs incapable of holding a job.

    Fuck, Slashdot has joined the media-hoard and they aren't even bothering to hide it anymore.

    • Actually, the article is about how two groups of investors are bleating about the dangers of technology X and how kids get addicted to it and so are threatening pull their investment capital from a tech company. In this instance, Slashdot is simply reporting on what OTHER PEOPLE are doing and saying.
  • We don't like return on investment says two major investors.

  • When everyone involved is in fact addicted, no one sees an addiction problem.

    There are no caffeine addicts, the masses are merely supporting the coffee industry.

    There are no narcissists or attention whores, the masses are merely very interactive on Social Media.

    The more a problem becomes the norm, the less it is viewed as a problem.

    As far as a greedy investor worried about stock price? Hold up a mirror if you're wondering where to get started on your ethical cleansing mission.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Monday January 08, 2018 @11:11AM (#55885495)

    I have a 7 year old and 4 year old. They have devices (not phones) but we don't let them use them forever. This is definitely an issue though...if we didn't limit what they did on these devices they would be on them to the exclusion of everything else. I can definitely see how smart devices are more addicting that TV or video games were for us. With TV, it's a totally one-way medium and even with the most expensive cable package you can buy there's only so much content available. Video games when most of us were kids are laughably primitive compared to immersive experiences we have today. So parents have to be in control, but it's not entirely a matter of parents being lazy.

    Before parents throw stones, or worse, before non-parents throw stones, don't forget that not every family is alike. Some families have serious issues where parents are working 2 jobs, one parent isn't present or is totally checked out, or one or both parents is working an insane amount of hours because that's what their employer expects. And it's not about cost of devices either -- cheap Android tablets or phones are just as addicting as the iPhone X. I live in a reasonably decent neighborhood, and of course I've run into the zombie moms who are either addicted to their own smartphones or want to shut the kids up so mommy can have her wine or painkillers in peace. But, there is something to be said about instant access to all the content in the entire world hitting the same endorphin receptors that other addictive substances do.

    • There needs to be better ways for parents to limit *what* they can do on a device at any given time of the day. Being able to specifically lock down Instagram unless all homework and chores are done would be most welcome.
      • There needs to be better ways for parents to limit *what* they can do on a device at any given time of the day. Being able to specifically lock down Instagram unless all homework and chores are done would be most welcome.

        Exactly. It gets tiresome listening to the usual /. parenting experts (generally childless dudes living in Mom's basement) rant about "parents not doing their job".

        It's nice to have some good tools with which to do the job.

        It's not like these keyboard warriors generally support the "ok, no phones for the kids at all then" solution. But that's the only solution if there are no parental controls or limited functionality phones.

      • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

        There needs to be better ways for parents to limit *what* they can do on a device at any given time of the day. Being able to specifically lock down Instagram unless all homework and chores are done would be most welcome.

        I think that's called "putting the phone in a drawer and not taking it out until the child finishes their homework".

        • Then you run into a situation where you're going out and you want them to have their phone in some capacity so you can reach them. Or is everyone expected to keep a landline so they can reach their kids when their phones are taken away? Generally there should be no need for a landline if everyone has a mobile phone.
          • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

            Then you run into a situation where you're going out and you want them to have their phone in some capacity so you can reach them.

            So...your children are old enough, mature enough, and trusted enough to be left home alone but not old enough, mature enough, and trusted enough to use a phone responsibly?

            • Clearly you don't have teenagers. That's pretty much the definition of one. Nor are you fully appreciating how addicted these kids become to their phones or what addiction really means.
  • by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Monday January 08, 2018 @11:13AM (#55885503)

    There is a need - or if you prefer, a market - for phones with limited capabilities, parental controls, etc.

    It's been a few years since I looked, but this market was not being served well (or barely being served at all) when I did look.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      There is a need - or if you prefer, a market - for phones with limited capabilities....

      They have these phones with limited capabilities called flip phones, but I think buying one for a child is considered grounds for calling Child Services in some states these days.

  • At least the call is being made by Apple's own investors. That will have a much larger impact on corporate policy than if it were just "the people" griping about it.
  • Given how much effort the various platforms (ad and social) put into researching how to maintain and develop 'engagement' it isn't any surprise that younger minds would be susceptible before they have a chance to develop defense mechanisms.
  • Well, they are addressing it, the same way the Mexican drug cartels are addressing cocaine addiction: by assuring a steady supply.

  • People are addicted to their social media apps, not the hardware.
  • You have to be kidding me. Invent a problem that isn't real, just some bullshit some lunatics invented up, assign it to most successful provider of hardware (but definitely not sole, or even largest stakeholder), make an article.

    Slashdot needs to stop feeding the trolls.

    I am a parent, I limit my children's phone/pad/tv/computer use based on what I want from them academically (I don't give two shits about 'social', obviously). That's nobody else's job and I don't want "help" or even opinions.

  • ... like the War On Drugs and how successful that's been and stuff.

    We could also borrow from the War On Tobacco, you know, the whack-a-mole template.

    How about modeling after The War On Alcohol like we did from 1920 to 1933 and just pull the phones and have speakeasies where you tell them Vinnie sent you?

    The goddam 'problem' isn't the supply, it's the fucking demand. © 2018 CaptainDork

  • As a parent of 8 children... PARENTS, PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE DOING!
    Can not be understated... stay involved. Be an adult, not a "buddy". Say "no" when it's appropriate. Don't be afraid to punish bad behavior. Don't allow yourself to get bullied. It's ok to take away the devices
    Bottom line here is legislation can never make up for parenting, or you can't legislate morality. Some things require active involvement.

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