Investors want Apple to look into the 'long-term health' of kids using its products

By the time they are teenagers, half of young adults say they are addicted to their phones.
(Image credit: iStock)

Apple investors Jana Partners and CalSTRS, which combined own about $2 billon of the company's stock, are ramping up pressure on the tech giant to study the effects of its products on children's health, The New York Times reports. "We believe the long-term health of [Apple's] youngest customers and the health of society, our economy, and the company itself are inextricably linked," said the investors in an open letter.

Concerns about young people's screen time stem from studies such as one in 2015 by Common Sense Media, which found that half of teenagers spend four hours or more a day looking at screens. Another 50 percent of teens said in a 2016 survey that they feel addicted to their phones. The managing partner of Jana, Barry Rosenstein, told the Times: "As more and more founders of the biggest tech companies are acknowledging today, the days of just throwing technology out there and washing your hands of the potential impact are over."

The investors additionally note that Apple makes its money through the sale of hardware primarily, and that the extent to which users actually spend time with the products does not affect the overall business model. Apple, for its part, said in a statement that "we think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them" and touted the parental controls it already has in place.

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Yet even some in the tech industry say things have gone too far. Early Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya said last year "the short term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works." Read more about the pressure on Apple to limit young adults' usage of its products at The New York Times.

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