Jan 8 2018

CalSTRS Confronts Apple on Child Smartphone Issues

Powerful Shareholders Express Concern with Smartphones Negative Affects on Children’s Mental and Physical Health

CalSTRS (California State Teachers’ Retirement System) and Jana Partners, a New York investment firm, are major shareholders of Apple stock, controlling a combined total $2 billion worth of Apple shares.  In a letter released on Monday, these groups express concern about heavy usage of smartphones and social media negatively affecting children’s mental and physical health.

Letter to the Board of Directors of Apple from Calstrs and Jana Partners:

January 6, 2018

“As shareholders, we recognize your unique role in the history of innovation and the fact that Apple is one of the most valuable brand names in the world. In partnership with experts including Dr. Michael Rich, founding director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Professor Jean M. Twenge, psychologist at San Diego State University and author of the book iGen, we have reviewed the evidence and 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,” the letter said.

“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. As a company that prides itself on values like inclusiveness, quality education, environmental protection, and supplier responsibility, Apple would also once again be showcasing the innovative spirit that made you the most valuable public company in the world. In fact, we believe that addressing this issue now will enhance long-term value for all shareholders, by creating more choices and options for your customers today and helping to protect the next generation of leaders, innovators, and customers tomorrow.”   ………

In a 2015 survey Pew Research Center found that 73 percent of teens have access to a smartphone, and 92 percent of them say that they go online every day. The percentage has probably increased in the intervening years, especially in Piedmont.

Read it here.

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