Apple should address youth phone addiction, say two large investors

Shareholders urge Apple to look into smartphone addiction in kids

Two Apple investors want the company to do more to keep kids from becoming addicted to smartphones. "Doing nothing risks these mental health issues continuing to be at these historically very high levels".

With many apps, sites and devices being created to be as addictive as possible to grow user numbers and maintain eyeballs on screens, children are increasingly being either seen as collateral damage or specifically targeted as the next generation of users.

Specifically, it details that young owners and users of smartphones, who spend four hours or more on their phones each day, are at a greater risk of suffering from depression when they're older, when compared to those who use their phones for one hour or less, each day. "I can control my kids' decisions, which is that they're not allowed to use that shit", said Palihapitiya.

Among their proposals to Apple: Establish a committee of experts, including child development specialists; offer Apple's "vast information resources" to researchers; and enhance mobile device software so that parents have more options to protect their children's health.

The letter cites a handful of recent studies, including an American Psychological Association survey in which 58% of parents said that they worry about the influence of social media on their child's health and that they feel their child is "attached" to their phone.

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"It would defy common sense to argue that this level of usage, by children whose brains are still developing, is not having at least some impact, or that the maker of such a powerful product has no role to play in helping parents to ensure it is being used optimally", the investors said in their letter.

The letter also advises Apple to educate parents about the changes and study the issue of young people over-using smartphones. The 2 groups also want the company to install a high-level executive whose job it is to monitor the situation "just as Apple does for environmental and supply chain issues".

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

The letter is also clear that Apple is not exclusively to blame for the growth in smartphone use among children, nor the increase in addiction of them.

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