GM Thought of the Week: Investors take a bite into Apple over addicted children

On Monday investors have written an open letter to Apple asking the firm to do more to fight child addiction to their devices.


I doubt anyone would disagree with the statement that kids are spending more time on their smartphones than they were 10 years ago. But are companies such as Apple doing enough to combat the addictive activity of kids being glued to their mobile screen? Two of the largest investors in the company believe not….


On Monday Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, who between them hold $2bn of Apple stock, penned an open letter saying the firm ‘must do more to help children fight addiction on its devices.’


Whilst there are currently restrictions on apps, location sharing and access to inappropriate content, the investors say that Apple should provide more. They have stated that ‘Apple should allow parents to be able to set the age of the user of the phone on setup and implement limits on screen time, hours of the day the phone can be used and block social media services.’ Citing several studies the investors have also brought up the negative impact that heavy smartphone use can have on a child’s physical and mental wellbeing. According to the reports these can range ‘from distractions in the classrooms and issues around focusing on educational tasks to higher risks of suicide and depressions.’


Even though there is clearly pressure being put on Apple to find a solution to this issue for heavyweight investors, will they bow to the pressure? In my opinion I don’t think they will as moves such as banning social media apps on phones for certain age groups could alienate a core audience who want to grow up with the iPhone and this will therefore shift responsibility onto parents to find a solution that works for their child. Whilst they are clearly not prioritising solving this issue at the moment, do they even see it as theirs to solve? Only time will tell…


Dan Chrystie, Associate Director of AV Investment