Activist hedge fund Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System sent a letter to apple over the weekend, asking the company to offer more tools for parents to show children how to use its devices.
"Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do", the shareholders wrote in the letter.
Collectively, the two investors hold approximately US$2 billion in Apple shares, according to the letter, which expresses concern that if left unaddressed the negative publicity stemming from this issue will harm the value of that investment. Examples include distractions by digital technologies in the classroom, a decreased ability of students to focus on educational tasks, and higher risks of suicide and depression.
Another example includes a higher risk of suicide and depression, with research concluding that United States teenagers who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to commit suicide. As well, USA teenagers spending five hours or more per day on electronic devices are 71 per cent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide than those who spend less than an hour. Creating child-friendly software will convince concerned parents that their products are safe to use.
The letter goes on to suggest Apple make amends by funding studies into technology overuse, and put together an advisory board of researchers and child development professionals that would help Apple design its parental controls to provide more choices for parents about how the device can be accessed by children in various age groups.
"By doing so, we believe Apple would once again be playing a pioneering role, this time by setting an example about the obligations of technology companies to their youngest customers."