Who is responsible for the vast amount of hours that kids spend using technology today? Should parents be held responsible? Should schools? Or should the creators and distributors of that technology have a part of the responsibility? These are tough questions, and certainly there is much room for debate. One organization, JANA Partners, together with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, is offering their opinion to Apple, Inc. JANA Partners and Callstrs own approximately $2 billion in shares of Apple.
In the letter called Think Differently About Kids, JANA admits that they aren’t looking for an “all or nothing” approach to technology. They recognize that there are many benefits to today’s technology. As they explain,
“More than 10 years after the iPhone’s release, it is a cliché to point out the ubiquity of Apple’s devices among children and teenagers, as well as the attendant growth in social media use by this group. What is less well known is that there is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent young users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences.” They list many of the consequences and the research that points to the many difficulties dealing with children today and their use of technology in educational, social and family settings.
They are asking Apple for a number of important steps that Apple can follow. These include creating an expert committee, offering Apple’s information resources for research efforts, creating new tools and options, educating the public and reporting.
In response, Apple explained that it already had extensive parental controls that govern the content and applications. They said that,
“We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them. We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids.”
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Certainly, opening channels of communication about technology is the first step in helping today’s kids (and tomorrow’s) to approach their use of technology in a different way.