Apple to Address Kids’ iPhone Addiction with Enhanced Parental Controls

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.

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 Face Time 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.

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