Sophie Hirsh
January 08, 2018 1:04 pm

It’s no secret that many adults have an unhealthy addiction to their iPhones. But now that children are becoming dependent on the devices, people are starting to worry. In fact, two of Apple’s largest shareholders wrote a detailed letter asking the corporation to take responsibility for the phone’s effect on children.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs) control around $2 billion of Apple shares. On Saturday, the two organizations teamed up and sent Apple a detailed letter, which can be found on a website created for this project called Think Differently About Kids.

In the letter, the companies explain that they conducted several studies on the topic. After analyzing the evidence, they concluded that children who are addicted to electronic devices are at risk for a variety of harmful side effects. And they are now urging Apple to do five things that could combat this issue.

The letter cites a variety of studies. The University of Alberta surveyed 2,300 teachers about screens in the classroom. Sixty-seven percent of the teachers said they have observed an increasing number of children distracted by digital technologies. Additionally, research by Professor Jean M. Twenge found that American teenagers who spend three to five hours or more on phones per day are 35 percent to 71 percent more likely to be at risk for suicide than those who spend less than one hour on phones per day.

And in a study conducted by UCLA, researchers found that children who spent five days at a device-free camp displayed better empathy than children in the control group.

After outlining these risks, Jana Partners LLC and Calstrs suggest five things Apple can do work on the situation:

Put together an expert committee of child development specialists who will observe and study the issue.

Financially support research efforts.

Create iPhone software that will allow parents to control their kids’ screen time.

Explain the research to parents so that they can make more educated choices about controlling their children’s phone use.

Keep the public educated by hiring someone to oversee the issue and report on it from Apple’s website.

Screen addiction is an important issue and undoubtedly one that will face many parents in the coming decades. Hopefully Apple — and all smartphone providers — will consider these ideas.

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