Apple powerless in the face of the dependency of children

Photo: iStock
Apple has long been highlighted as a company which gives importance to family values and who manufactures the products “safe” in which parents can be proud of.

Toronto — consumers should not rely on Apple to make its phones and tablets less eye-catching for children, say experts, who warn that a good parenting is probably the best solution to limit the screen time of the younger generation.


Even if two of the largest shareholders of the american giant of the computer requested new features that would help to limit the amount of time children spend in front of screens, these experts have also pointed out that there is no simple solution to this problem. In addition, they write, the responsibility remains that of the parents when it is time to determine what is best for their children.


“I think that the only source of control is possible is that of limits on parent direct,” said Aimee Morrison, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, who studies the impact of technology on culture.


The most recent debate over how technology companies can prevent the dependency has been launched by an open letter sent by the investment firm new york-based Jana Partners and the pension plan of the teachers of the State of California, who hold in the aggregate to US $2 billion of shares in Apple.


“Apple can play a decisive role in indicating to the industry that pay particular attention to the health and development of the next generation is both a good business decision and the right thing to do “, one can read in the letter.


“We believe that addressing this problem now by giving parents more tools and choices could improve the activities of the Apple and push up the demand for its products. “


Apple quickly responded by saying that a number of parental controls were built into its iPhone and iPad, and that ” new features and improvements were planned for the future.”


But the experts do not agree to say that the children can really develop an addiction to screens, reminiscent of the director of education with MediaSmarts, Matthew Johnson — even if there is no doubt that an “excessive use” of mobile phones and tablets may impair the mental and physical health.


A ” curfew of use “


He would like to see Apple put in place a tool that would establish a “curfew” use to limit the capabilities of a device in the evening, when the children should prepare to be put to bed. These controls should be more sophisticated than a simple switch ” open-closed “, he adds, so that parents can adjust as they see fit.


But consumers can’t count on technology companies to make devices that do not pose any risk and do not require educational component of the part of the parents, said Mr Johnson.


“It is important that [the characteristics of parental control] should not be seen as a complete solution. This is really important, is that we can give gradually more responsibility to our children as they grow up. “


“This would be really useful is a [tool] with which we do not make very strict limits as parents, with which we do not actively monitor directly [children], but that does not give them total freedom not more. Perhaps we might be able to put boundaries where we believe they are necessary, we might be able to make callbacks, and perhaps we might be able to adjust this period of curfew. “


One of the first designers of the iPhone now has reservations about the level of dependence that cause this device — for children and for adults. Tony Fadell, who left Apple to focus on the digital thermostat Nest, wrote on Twitter that “addiction to devices is very real, “and that” we need to know where to draw the line and when we switched in dependence “.


He suggests “rules on screen time, to live in the present moment, to avoid screens during meals, reconnecting with the past-time analogue such as books, writing and drawing, to the days without technology as a family, to be together” as strategies to combat the addiction to screens.


The portability, a distinguishing factor


If some have asked if the phones and tablets accounted for children an attraction stronger than the tv or the video games in their early days, Ms. Morrison, is rather argued that the portability is the most distinctive of these new technologies.


“In the first golden age of tv in the 1950s, when households installed these devices in their living room — and found that three channels —, the parents could enter the room and close the tv. And the first video game systems, as well as the consoles, branchaient on the tv in the main room, ” she recalled.


“The problem with the iPhone and the iPad, is that they go everywhere with us. Before, it was possible to remove her child from in front of the tv, and say to him, “come on, we’re going to do the groceries”, but now [the children] not going to even get into the car without asking : “Is it that I can play with your phone ?” “


“I believe that this is the extent of use, its ubiquity and invasiveness. “


Even if Apple has no direct responsibility towards the parents, it is not surprising that the enterprise will be quickly committed to doing more, said Neil Bearse, director of marketing for the Smith School of Business, Queen’s University s.


Apple has long been highlighted as a company which gives importance to family values and who manufactures the products “safe” in which parents can be proud of, said Mr. Bearse.


“[Former chief executive] Steve Jobs has basically stated publicly that there would never be porn in the App Store, ” he pointed out.


“We could see this through the lens of the cynicism of the commercial, saying that they want to recruit iPhone users as early as possible in their lives […] But for a parent who is wondering [what is the iPhone offer to her child for Christmas this year], the angle family is certainly consistent with these values. “