Tech Investors Are Concerned About Our Kids – Is It Just A Marketing Strategy?

The advancements in technology – especially with cell phones — in recent years have proven to be both a blessing and a curse to parents.

We are now able to stay in contact with our children at any time but have also seen these products overused by kids and teens, putting them at risk both physically and emotionally, and even exposing them to dangerous situations.

Now, two investors in one of the biggest tech companies in the world are demanding some accountability for kids’ overuse of smartphones – not from parents, but from the company itself.

But in doing so, are they overstepping their bounds?

LifeSite News reported:

Two significant Apple investors have asked the tech giant to design software that allows parents to control how their kids are using iPhones in order to better “protect their health and well-being.”

“We believe there is a clear need for Apple to offer parents more choices and tools to help them ensure that young consumers are using your products in an optimal manner,” stated Barry Rosenstein, Managing Partner of JANA Partners LLC, in an open letter to Apple on the weekend. The letter was also signed by Anne Sheehan, Director of Corporate Governance for The California State Teachers’ Retirement System. 

The two organizations, who together control $2 billion worth of shares in the technology firm, list a number of concerns about the damage Apple’s products are causing children and teenagers when they are used inappropriately. 

The investors have significant influence over Apple and claim they have families’ best interests in mind.  But is this a clever marketing strategy — or worse — a way to further control how these products are used?

While parents are frequently warned about the dangers of smartphone use, both for health and safety reasons, monitoring their use can be a large burden to bear alone with so many other parenting responsibilities to handle. However, the more these companies are able to monitor our activities and screen-time use, the more personal information they may gather to analyze their marketing.

The investors’ letter to Apple states that “94% of parents have taken some action to manage their child’s technology use, but it is both unrealistic and a poor long-term business strategy to ask parents to fight this battle alone.

Imagine the goodwill Apple can generate with parents by partnering with them in this effort and with the next generation of customers by offering their parents more options to protect their health and well-being.”

This particular portion of the letter is of concern.  Stating that 94 percent of parents try to manage their child’s technology use is a large majority – in fact, it appears as if most parents are aware of the dangers and working to keep their kids safe.

And the reference to “generating goodwill” with parents seems to imply that this goodwill will boost sales.  By making their concern public – and, in fact, releasing this letter at all —  these investors seem to be playing a hand to test the waters of how these changes may increase their sales.

After all, Apple products and iPhones in particular, are a hot commodity with today’s youth.  When parents control the purse strings, clever marketing will target concerned parents, not kids.

The investors were advised by physicians and educators on the “unintentional negative consequences” that smartphones like iPhones have on children and teens who use them several hours each day.  But without our heavy dependence on these devices, their retail sales would sharply decrease.

Apart from well-known online safety issues, continuous use of these devices can cause physical and mental health issues like sleep deprivation, high blood pressure, obesity, inattentiveness, or worse.  Some physicians warn that being constantly “plugged in” can lead to anxiety, depression or suicide.

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These are frightening statistics for any parent, and we often read these very reports from concerned physicians and educators.  It appears the company would be playing into our fears if these recommendations were implemented — and would boost their sales in the process.

LifeSite News continued:

 “It would defy common sense to argue that this level of usage, by children whose brains are still developing, is not having at least some impact, or that the maker of such a powerful product has no role to play in helping parents to ensure it is being used optimally,” the investors wrote. 

Their recommendations to Apple include assembling a committee of experts to study the psychological effects of its technology on children and teens; assisting the experts’ research; developing new, child-focused versions of phones with age-appropriate setup options, like screen time limits and parental monitoring; educating parents about the new options so they can make more informed decisions; and hiring a “high-level executive” to monitor these issues and report on them, just as Apple has for environmental and supply chain issues. 

While the intentions of the investors may be good, it is hard to believe they are willing to risk their investment if Apple refuses their recommendations.  And if these new options are implemented, it can only mean that our children are being further monitored by a corporate giant.

What do you think of the recommendations given to Apple?  Do you think the new monitoring setups would take control away from parents and enable the company to further target our kids in order to boost sales?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments.