Apple Defends Its Smartphone Practices for Children After Investor Critique--Update

By Tripp Mickle Features Dow Jones Newswires

Apple Inc. defended its record of providing parental controls and other protections for children who use its iPhones and other devices, after a pair of prominent investors called on the tech giant to take more steps to curb the ill effects of smartphones.

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In a statement late Monday, Apple said that its mobile software includes extensive parental controls governing different types of content and applications, noting that it started offering some of them as early as 2008.

"We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them," Apple said in the statement. "We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers' expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids."

The statement didn't directly comment on a letter sent to Apple Saturday by Jana Partners LLC, a leading activist investor, and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, or Calstrs, a major pension fund. That letter, first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, urged Apple to develop new software tools to help parents control and limit phone use. They also asked the company to assist in studying the impact of overuse of smartphones on mental health.

In its response, Apple pointed to controls it provides in the Settings section of each iPhone, allowing parents to install and delete apps, control in-app purchases and restrict website access. It said it also makes sure its App Store and other content areas are clear of offensive material, such as pornography, and labeled so that users can identify age-appropriate music movies or songs.

The company added that it is "constantly looking" for ways to improve its devices and said that it plans new features that will make the tools it provides parents "even more robust."

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The letter to Apple comes as Jana is seeking to raise new multibillion-dollar fund this year to target companies it believes can be better corporate citizens.

The investor push highlights a subject of growing concern among academics, parents and others who worry that obsessive smartphone use is contributing to problems such as distraction and depression among teens.

Write to Tripp Mickle at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 08, 2018 19:56 ET (00:56 GMT)