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Apple Announces Software to Keep Smartphone Addiction in Check

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Oct. 31 2019, Updated 12:38 p.m. ET

Digital health

Apple (AAPL) has announced it will roll out its much-anticipated “Digital Health” feature in the new operating software iOS 12. The tool aims to help users control smartphone addiction and improve parental control over children’s smartphone usage. Earlier this year, shareholders Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System urged Apple to develop more tools to curb smartphone addiction among children.

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Features to check smartphone addiction

Apple has expanded the “Do Not Disturb” (or DND) functionality, which will now allow users to have more control over notifications. The DND features aim to help users avoid disturbances from notifications. The feature will eliminate midnight notifications and dismiss group notifications that distract users.

App limits allow users to set a time limit for individual apps. The feature is expected to be effective in restricting the amount of time kids spend on smartphones. Users can also have better parental controls and can track their kids’ time and create allowances for chosen apps and time limits. After users reach limits, the device will become inactive.

Rising smartphone usage among kids

There have been increasing cases of distraction and rising depression and suicide risk among kids and young children who spend more time on smartphones and use social media and other apps, as the above USA Today chart shows. Social media platforms like Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) have also been accused of having negative effects on mental health. Thus, enhanced parental controls could prove to be important.

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