In fact, two of Apple’s major shareholders published letters in January, asking Apple to develop a socially responsible approach towards children’s smart-device usage.
Apple’s new offering—a suite of apps called Digital Health—is rather curious. The company’s not really known to market anything that does not lead to greater attachment with its products. But, with Digital Health, it wants to enable users of its smart devices to track the amount of time they utilise their devices for—the goal is to encourage them to limit their ‘screen-time’. It could be a response to the criticism that tech companies, including Apple, routinely draw, that they do not give adequate attention to technology addiction among users, especially children.
In fact, two of Apple’s major shareholders published letters in January, asking Apple to develop a socially responsible approach towards children’s smart-device usage. Parents/users can now use applications such as ‘Screentime’, and ‘Downtime’ to observe a summary of how long a device has been used, including a log of time consumed on various apps. A daily and weekly summary report containing an agglomerated set of the same data will be generated, as well.
Given that tech addiction is emerging as a legitimate mental and physical health concern—research shows links to attention deficit disorders, obsessive behaviour, etc—limiting smart device usage is undoubtedly key to policy for a truly ‘smart’ world. Forrester, the global research firm, predicted that smartphone penetration hit 50% last year and would reach 66% in 2022.
IAB’s On Device research survey further predicts that 63% of worldwide smartphone users use their phones at least once every 30 minutes, with nearly half of all users using their devices for more than three hours every day. However, in today’s connected world, there are also genuine reasons, including professional compulsions, to stay active on the internet. Apple did right to put the ball in the users’ court—giving them the tools to prompt intermittent ‘log-offs’. But, staying on top of possible tech addiction will depend on whether users choose to heed the prompts.