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Two major Apple investors have urged the iPhone maker to help curb smartphone addiction among children, highlighting growing concern about the effects of gadgets and social media on youngsters.

Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) called on Apple to consider the impact excessive use of smartphones had on the mental health of young people.

In a recent piece for NBC News THINK, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington lamented how technology degrades the closeness between people in the same room and cited how heavy social media usage has been linked to higher rates of depression, especially in the young. "We have new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make these tools even more robust". "In an interview a year ago to celebrate Apple for (the) positive contribution it has made to the world, (Fortune) challenged Tim Cook to say what Apple was doing about the "bad social behavior" iPhones and iPads provoked, including 'children who stare for too long into a screen.' Cook changed the subject, talking instead about Apple's anti-distracted driving initiative and how the Apple Watch has a feature that reminds you to breathe".

The statement came in response to an open letter that published Saturday that asked Apple to take a socially responsible approach to helping parents navigate the tricky waters of phone ownership among kids.

IPhones (and other devices) are making it hard for students to stay focused at school, according to research touted in the letter.

Professor Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University and author of the book "iGen", found that U.S. teenagers spending three hours a day or more on electronic devices were 35% more likely, and those spending five hours or more were 71% more likely, to have a risk factor for suicide than those spending less than one hour, according to the letter.

Is your child addicted to their iPhone or iPad?

Such a policy may well have been met with approval by Apple's late cofounder Steve Jobs, who was said to have placed strict limits on screen time in his own home.

He wrote on Twitter: "Apple Watches, Google Phones, Facebook, Twitter - they've gotten so good at getting us to go for another click, another dopamine hit".

"There is a developing consensus around the world including Silicon Valley that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility", said the investors, who collectively control $2bn of Apple stock.

IPhones and other Apple devices running the company's iOS operating system let parents control and restrict what their children consume, including apps, movies, websites, songs and books, as well as cellular data, according to Apple. It also added that it's also making sure that the App Store and other digital content areas are clear of offensive material including pornography, while labels should help the user identify age-appropriate content.

Apple already responded to the letter, reaffirming the idea that it has parental controls built into iOS. Of course, we are constantly looking for ways to make our experiences better.


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