The company says it plans to add new features to help you monitor your kid's iPhone addiction.

By Marisa Cohen
January 09, 2018
Hero Images/Getty Images

When you’re having that millionth argument with your child about putting down the iPhone and focusing on homework, conversation, cleaning their room, or anything other than Snapchat or YouTube, you be tempted to just grab the phone and scream, "Siri, please make this easier for parents!”

Siri may not be listening to parents, but it turns out she will listen to big-time investors.

Last Saturday, two major Apple shareholders (JANA Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which hold a combined $2 billion in shares) published a joint letter to Apple asking the media giant to step it up and help parents manage their children’s digital lives in a more active way. “…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.”

The shareholders did their research: Working with two of the biggest names in children and media, Dr. Michael Rich of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Jean M. Twenge, a professor at San Diego State University and author of the book iGen, the letter dropped some bombshell statistics, including:

  • 67 percent of teachers surveyed report than the number of kids who are negatively distracted by phones in class is increasing
  • 90 percent of teachers say that the number of kids with emotional challenges has increased since personal technology has entered the classroom
  • 50 percent of children feel “addicted” to their phone

The letter-writers went on to say that they believe a balanced approach is best—they were not advocating taking away phones entirely from kids—but that Apple’s current parental controls give only an “all or nothing approach, with parental options limited largely to shutting down or allowing full access to various tools and functions.”

The folks at Apple listened and responded, releasing their own letter late Monday defending their current system of parental controls, but also vowing to do better.

“With today’s iOS devices, parents have the ability to control and restrict content including apps, movies, websites, songs and books, as well as cellular data, password settings and other features. Effectively anything a child could download or access online can be easily blocked or restricted by a parent,” the company wrote. “Of course, we are constantly looking for ways to make our experiences better. We have new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make these tools even more robust.”

While we await these promised changes, here’s a refresher on how to block access to any apps your child may be addicted to right now:

  • Pry the phone out of your child’s hands.
  • Go to “Settings,” then tap on “General” and scroll down to “Restrictions.”
  • Tap on “Enable Restrictions” and create a passcode when prompted (don’t use anything your child can easily guess, like your birthday).
  • Finally, go through the list of apps and types of content you want to banish from your child’s phone and tap the slider next to it.
  • For even more options, consider investing in software such as Norton Family or Qustodio.