Apple claims it ‘looks out for kids’ after investors voice fears over iPhone addiction in pupils

Apple said it will help parents limit children’s use of their products, after shareholders raised concerns over the effect their products might be having on young people’s mental health.

“We have new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make these tools even more robust,” an Apple spokesman said in a statement.

Amid criticism from investors, Apple claimed that the company “leads the industry” on child safety and said that it has, since 2008, made apps for parents to monitor usage.

Activist investor Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs), which control around $2bn of Apple shares or 0.2 per cent, published an open letter on Saturday urging the Silicon Valley company to respond to a phenomenon, which is widely described as smartphone addiction, among young people.

“Apple has always looked out for kids, and we work hard to create powerful products that inspire, entertain, and educate children while also helping parents protect them online,” Apple said.

Despite this, the activist investors have asked Apple to change its operating systems for younger users and invest in more research into the effect technology has on children.

They also recommended installing an advisory board who could monitor the issue.

“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 letter stated.

Fears over the impact technology might be having on younger generations are becoming more prevalent. In November last year, former Facebook executive Sean Parker said of the social network: “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains”.

Yet there is differing scientific advice on whether parents should limit children’s screen time.

Facebook last year admitted that people scrolling through its website were more likely to feel unhappy, yet they were given a boost if they actively engaged with others, like posting a comment or sending a message to a friend.