In another blow to the Silicon Valley elites, two big shareholders of Apple Inc. are concerned that the entrancing qualities of the iPhone have fostered a public health crisis that could hurt children — and the company as well.
In a letter to the smartphone maker dated Jan. 6, activist investor Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System urged Apple to create ways for parents to restrict children’s access to their mobile phones. They also want the Cupertino, Calif., company to study the effects of heavy usage on mental health.
“There is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent young users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences,” says the letter from the two investors, which combined own about $2 billion in Apple shares. The “growing societal unease” is “at some point is likely to impact even Apple.”
The letter cited early research showing some negative effects phone usage has had on children, such as being distracted in the classroom, higher risks of depression and suicide, and sleep deprivation.
France has moved to ban the use of smartphones in its primary and middle schools.
Meanwhile, Android co-founder Andy Rubin is seeking to apply artificial intelligence to phones so that they perform relatively routine tasks without needing to be physically handled.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the activist pressure is the latest in a series of challenges for the tech giant.