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Apple vows new parental controls amid child addiction fears

iPhone maker promises features in response to two major shareholders' concerns over children's use of its smartphones.

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Apple said it plans to introduce new features to help parents manage their children's use of its smartphones amid two major shareholders' concerns of young people becoming addicted to the company's iPhones.  

"Apple has always looked out for kids, and we work hard to create powerful products that inspire, entertain, and educate children while also helping parents protect them online," an Apple representative said in a statement late Monday.

"We have new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make these tools even more robust," the Apple representative added.

The statement came in response to an open letter, published Saturday, that asked Apple to take a socially responsible approach to helping parents navigate the tricky waters of phone ownership among kids.

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"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," wrote Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, which together own a $2 billion stake in Apple.

"There is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent young users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences," the investors wrote.

A 2016 report by social agency Influence Central said that the average age for children to get a phone was 10.3. Many manufacturers make cheaper and more basic entry-level phones aimed at children, but Apple products are still highly prized by children and teenagers.

Apple didn't describe the new features it has planned, but said parents already have the ability to control and restrict content on iOS devices, including apps, movies, websites and music. "Effectively anything a child could download or access online can be easily blocked or restricted by a parent," Apple said.

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