Apple: What We Parents Need is Choice — Screen Times Comes in All Different Shapes and Sizes…
Screen time is now one of the top parenting concerns today. For years, we parents have muddled through how to give our children the benefits of technology while managing the risks. When Apple offered no suitable means for parents to manage their children’s devices, we found alternatives–thankfully, there were developers who were attuned to our digital parenting issues. Following your guidance and app development protocols, these parental control app companies were encouraged by you and flourished. Relationships were built on trust and mutual understanding–both between you and these developers, and between these developers and parents.
As you convene developers from around the world this week to revel in Apple’s latest triumphs, I wonder if you might pause to consider how your technological achievements continue to affect what is surely an underrepresented, but important, constituency. In your drive toward innovation and building momentum around your forthcoming product releases, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t give much thought to the ongoing impact your engineering feats have on children.
‘Parenting Technology’ is hard. As the founder of a company that helps parents to manage in their newfound role of Family CTO, I can tell you that screen time comes in all different shapes and sizes. There is no one parental control solution that works for everyone–parenting philosophies differ greatly and children vary in their proclivities. What parents need is choice.
So when you bar 11 of the most popular parental control apps from the App Store, it can feel like a breach of trust. Not only are the livelihoods of these companies at stake after years of providing solutions for a problem that has affected millions of parents and children, but also parents are caught in the crosshairs yet again. Many parents are beyond frustrated when they hear that Mobicip or OurPact are no longer available.
Yes, we understand that at Apple, you are impassioned about privacy. We appreciate your vigilance when so many other Silicon Valley companies have faltered. Of course we care deeply about protecting our children’s personal data, but, when it comes to third-party parental control apps, your concerns are misguided.
Even if these app developers were collecting data on our kids through the Mobile Device Management System (which they have convincingly refuted), I trust them. I trust that our interests are aligned. I trust that they understand my needs and care about my children. There may be some outside risks involved, but parenting comes with all kinds of tradeoffs. I want the option to continue entrusting these companies to help me parent technology.
While you may think you’ve solved the parental control problem with Screen Time, setup remains far from intuitive. Plus, it lacks several key convenience features, and several design flaws make it easy for wily kids to circumvent.
Again, I’m calling on you to make the right decision. Not because there’s the whiff of anti-competitive behavior or the fear of reprisal from angry parents, but because of trust.
It’s time that you start demonstrating to parents that we should entrust you to help us manage technology for our children. This trust has yet to be earned.
Founder, Heard It From A Friend