Tim Cook says Apple is working on new ideas for Screen Time to fight device addiction



The world has changed dramatically over the last ten years. Check out the pedestrians walking the sidewalk in any city and most are looking down at a phone screen. Inside a restaurant, a family dinner can turn into screen time for all, including tablets brought by the parents to keep their young ones entertained. ABC News magazine 20/20 recently did a show focused on the screen time compiled by a particular family and included an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Cook said that while Apple makes money by selling the iPhone to families, he doesn't want them to use the handset a lot. With one poll showing that half of all parents are concerned about their kids getting addicted to their gadgets, Apple last year added a new feature to the iPhone hoping to give parents more control. Screen Time measures how much time an iPhone user spends on each app, and how many notifications each app sends him or her. Once a profile is set, the user can limit the amount of time that is spent on certain apps. With a secret parent passcode (hint: don't use Dad123 or Mom123), parents can get a report on their kids weekly app usage and set limits on certain apps accordingly.


The executive pointed out that Apple isn't getting into the parenting business. He says that there are no standards for parenting, thus no standards on screen time. "People have different views about what should be allowed and not," he noted. But Cook did say that Apple is merely giving parents the controls to limit their kids' app usage if they feel that it is required. He added that Apple is working on a way to create age limits for apps and require parental approval for certain titles. The company also wants to label music with explicit language. The problem is coming up with a one-size fits all solution. "A fix is defined differently for you and I and everyone…you know, what might be reasonable for me might be totally unreasonable for my neighbor," Cook said. "I get notes from parents all the time. They have great ideas. And I'm sure there will be more things that we will do."

Once again, Tim Cook makes it clear that users of Apple devices are not the company's product


During the interview Cook admitted that he himself found out that he picked up his iPhone 200 times a day, twice as much as he thought. The executive admitted that knowing this figure hasn't led him to cut back on his iPhone use although he has cut the number of apps that send him notifications.

Besides screen addiction, the show discussed user privacy, another hot button issue. Apple's CEO repeated a line that he has used since Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal broke early last year. "You are not our product," stated Cook. He went on to add, "Our products are iPhone and iPads. We treasure your data. We want to help you, keep it private and keep it secure. We’re on your side." To back up that last statement, the executive has been calling for "comprehensive federal privacy legislation." Earlier this year he laid out a proposal for this legislation that would legally protect the right of a consumer to have companies collect the minimum amount of personal data needed, explain exactly the data being collected and why it is needed. Cook says that his proposed legislation should also give consumers the right to obtain, correct and delete their own personal data. "The people who track on the internet know a lot more about you than if somebody's looking in your window. A lot more," Cook said.

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