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iPhones + Kids = Addiction?

written by Dominic Gomez January 10, 2018
Group of kids on phones not playing

Apple’s two biggest investors want them to do a little bit more to help curb what seems to be a growing issue with today’s youth. I might date myself a little here but back in my day, we played outside. When we played video games our friends actually had to, wait for it, come to our house and play. My curfew was, ‘your butt better be on this porch when those street lights come on’. We lived. We did things we weren’t supposed to, nothing horrible, but boxing with winter gloves probably isn’t the best idea. I digress.

JANA Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Apple’s two biggest investors) have written an open letter to Apple. In the letter, they cite some pretty damning evidence that kids need to get out and socialize. I don’t mean Facebook and Twitter. I mean outside. With actual people. If you want to read the entire open letter to Apple you can do so here, but here are a few points.

A study conducted recently by the Center on Media and Child Health and the University of Alberta found that 67% of the over 2,300 teachers surveyed observed that the number of students who are negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom is growing and 75% say students’ ability to focus on educational tasks has decreased. In the past 3 to 5 years since personal technologies have entered the classroom, 90% stated that the number of students with emotional challenges has increased and 86% said the number with social challenges has increased.


Professor Twenge’s research shows that U.S. teenagers who spend 3 hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35% more likely, and those who spend 5 hours or more are 71% more likely, to have a risk factor for suicide than those who spend less than 1 hour.


A study by UCLA researchers showed that after 5 days at a device-free outdoor camp, children performed far better on tests for empathy than a control group.

I know this isn’t conclusive by any means, but it does point out a need for our kids to unplug. I get it, I have a 7-year old that keeps begging me for an iPhone (ain’t gonna happen), but he does have an iPad. Yes, parents need to parent, but we can’t be there all the time right? Tools like Family Link from Google are invaluable. You can set your child’s screen time, see what apps they use most, and more, all from the convenience of your phone. When the time limit is up, their phone becomes just a phone, nothing else. Apple needs something more than the ‘Restrictions’ option in settings on the child’s device.

We’re busier than ever as parents, but we need to make sure our children are socializing in real life. Not just on Facebook. Do you think kids spend too much time on their electronic devices? What do you think can be done to help? Let us know in the comments.

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