Apple should address youth phone addiction, say two large investors

The Verge

The Verge

Two Apple investors want the company to do more to keep kids from becoming addicted to smartphones. Together with CalSTRS, the companies sent the iPhone maker a letter, urging it to develop a software that would provide parents significantly more control over the devices of their children. Smartphone addition is surging on Google trends, and research is showing when we're on more social media platforms, we experience more stress.

The American Psychiatric Association does not consider heavy internet use a true mental addiction and says more research is needed.

The open letter reflects growing concerns on the long-term impact of technology such as smartphones and social media on children.

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While tech companies have not acknowledged openly that their gadgets may be addictive, some Silicon Valley insiders have begun to speak about how gadgets, mobile applications and social media sites are created to be addictive and to keep users' attention as long as possible. Former Facebook president Sean Parker described the site as made to exploit human vulnerability, saying: "God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains". Once they have their phones, teens average almost seven hours of screen media use a day, according to a 2015 study from the Common Sense Census.

"It's the beginning of a much bigger conversation about these issues and it's great that shareholders care about it", he said".

In a statement provided to the Wall Street Journal, a spokesperson for Apple said, "We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them".

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The shareholders said they did not want to stop children from using smartphones entirely, and cited Twenge's findings that teenagers who use their electronic devices for up to an hour a day are more happy than their peers who do not use their devices at all.

Other side effects include disrupted sleep cycles and an inability to pay attention in class. He said Apple can also design addiction-prevention features, such as an automatic shut-off after an hour.

"We believe the long-term health of its youngest customers and the health of society, our economy, and the Company itself, are inextricably linked", they write, saying that the change they advocate for "will enhance and protect value".

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This is just one example of this wellness trend coming to life.

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