APPLE IS BEING URGED to assess the impact that "harmful effect" that its iPhones are having on young people.
Activist investor Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (Calstrs) sent an open letter on Saturday that urged the Cupertino giant to tackle the growing issue of smartphone addiction among children.
"Apple can play a defining role in signalling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do," the letter stated.
"There is a developing consensus around the world, including Silicon Valley, that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility."
The letter cites a number of studies which show how the heavy usage of smartphones, along with social media, negatively affects children's mental and physical health. One example includes a "decreased ability" among students to focus on educational tasks, with one study showing that 67 per cent of 2,300 teachers observed that the number of students who are negatively distracted by digital technologies.
Another example includes a higher risk of suicide and depression, with research concluding that US teenagers who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 per cent more likely to commit suicide. The risk increases to 71 per cent for those who spend five hours or more.
The two investors, which combined control around $2bn Apple shares, are calling on Apple to establish an expert committee including child development specialists, offer its information up to researchers and to enhance mobile device software so parents have more options to protect their children's health.
Apple has yet to respond to the letter, but it's well known that the firm's late CEO Steve Jobs had been concerned about the negative impact that technology was having on young people. µ
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