In an unprecedented move, major Apple shareholders Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (AKA, CalSTRS) are pressuring the tech juggernaut to address the growing concern of smartphone addiction.
In an open letter to Apple, the shareholders (who collectively own $2B of Apple shares) listed numerous studies linking cell phone obsession to feelings of addiction (particularly among teens) and criticized Apple for lacking the necessary mechanisms on their devices to help curb overuse.
They urged the company to design more intuitive ways for parents to safeguard their children’s devices, and called for them to build a committee of experts “to assist additional research efforts.”
Tech addiction is real…
The World Health Organization recently classified video game addiction as a mental health condition, and a large number of health professionals believe device addiction is going to get worse as technology gets faster and smarter.
Aside from correlations to mental health disorders like social anxiety and depression, recent studies have shown that smartphone addiction costs corporate America around $54B annually in lost productivity.
It’s not just Apple
Apple might be in the hot seat right now, but the US, on the whole, has been late to the game on preventative measures to curb overuse.
Australia, China, Japan, India and many others already treat tech addiction like a serious disorder, naming it a public health crisis and investing in in-patient treatment facilities.
But, Apple claims they’ve always taken it seriously
In response to concerned shareholders, Apple said they are “committed” to protecting their customers, especially kids, and have “new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make [parental control] tools even more robust.”
Regardless, a smart device company attempting to curb the use of its smart devices seems kinda like Marlborough telling people to ease up on the cigs…” there’s a pretty obvious conflict of interest.