SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Apple is facing new pressure to help curb what’s being called child and teen addiction to its smartphones.
Two influential investors — Jana Partners and the California State Teachers Retirement System — have asked the tech giant to make changes to its smartphone software so parents can limit their children’s access.
According to a recent survey, 58 percent of the parents who responded said they were worried about the impact of social media on their child’s physical and mental health.
“Like all kids, they are glued to their smartphones as much as possible,” Mark Lowe told CBS of his children.
After noticing his children spending so much time on their smartphones, Lowe created a simple wooden box that he uses to block access to the phones during certain hours of the day.
“For 20 minutes or an hour or whatever, they’re (the phones) not in sight,” he said.
Lowe decided to market his box — The Be Present Box — and has sold 1200 of them worldwide. Despite its popularity, Lowe doesn’t think the box is an end-all solution.
“I really hope that a company like Apple or Google can find a way out or another path,” he said.
Love is not alone.
In a letter send to Apple, Jana Partners and the California State Teachers Retirement System also demanded that Apple offer parents choices and tools to help limit their children’s use.
Wall Street Journal reporter David Beniot said concerns over cell phone use by children could ultimately impact Apple’s bottom line.
“The way that Jana would hope it works is Apple does respond,” he said. “And Apple says — ‘We’re well aware that this could be an issue, we are going to tweak the phone. We’re going to make it the best phone you can buy your kids.'”
Jana and CALSTRS together only control about $2 billion stake of Apple’s nearly $900 billion market value. But that’s not stopping them from also asking Apple to study the impact of excessive phone use on mental health.
Apple has not responded to a CBS New request for comment.