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Apple just announced it plans to help parents manage their kids' cellphone use

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Apple just announced it plans to help parents manage their kids' cellphone use

Apple’s statement comes a day after a pair of shareholders argued that the company doesn’t do enough to tackle phone addiction among young people and children.

Apple plans to make changes to its iPhone to help parents control how their children use the smartphone, according to The Verge.

“We have new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make these tools even more robust,” the company said in a statement released to news outlets.

The company stressed it takes phone addiction seriously.

“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," the company said.

Apple’s announcement for change comes a day after a pair of shareholders argued that the company doesn’t do enough to tackle phone addiction among young people and children.

The two shareholders, California State Teachers' Retirement System and Jana Partners, who own about $2 billion in Apple stock combined, said the company needs to take a stronger stance against the mental health effects of smartphones, CNNMoney reported.

The two shareholders published an open letter online that called for Apple to play "a pioneering role, this time by setting an example about the obligations of technology companies to their youngest customers," the letter read.

"Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do," the letter read.

The shareholders encouraged Apple to improve its parental controls, too, since Apple’s devices lack controls that can limit a child’s use of a phone.

“It would defy common sense to argue that this level of usage, by children whose brains are still developing, is not having at least some impact, or that the maker of such a powerful product has no role to play in helping parents to ensure it is being used optimally,” the letter read.

Apple responded to the shareholders by saying the company is “committed to meeting and exceeding our customers' expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids," according to a statement sent to CNNMoney.

Recent research points to smartphones creating mental health issues. According to The Washington Post, a 2017 paper found that those suffering from anxiety or depression may be more likely to have smartphone addiction. Another study found that young people who are addicted to their smartphones have an imbalance in brain chemicals that could lead to insomnia.

In fact, another recent study found that 48 percent of teens who are online for more than five hours a day are at risk for depression or thinking about suicide. That number is 66 percent higher than teens who only use their phones for one hour a day, according to the Deseret News.

"Something is going on (with teens), and we need to figure out what it is so we can help them,” study author Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, told the Deseret News.

Twenge said companies should use recent research to find answers to help teens.

"What's the risk of doing nothing?" Twenge says. "If there’s even a chance that high levels of screen time have something to do with the rising teen suicide and depression rate, that’s a big risk."
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