If “smartphone” was a language, anyone who’s witnessed a toddler deftly maneuvering through an iPhone will realize that kids grow up fluent, possibly at the expense of their social development. As such, USA Today reports that two major Apple investors — who control $2 billion of the company’s shares — are calling upon CEO Tim Cook to help curb this growing problem.
Although it’s not clear how Apple can take effective action when children’s parents are equally addicted to gadgets (and can use them as “babysitters”), the two investors, Jana Partners LLC (based in New York) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), penned an open letter:
“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. Apple can play a defining role in signaling 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.”
It’s a valid cause, but Apple certainly isn’t the only main contributor to the epidemic. Facebook ex-founder Sean Parker recently admitted that their platform was designed to exploit “vulnerability in human psychology,” which means that they knew people would enjoy that mini-dopamine hit every time someone sees a “like” on their status or photo. Although Facebook technically bans anyone under age 14 from signing up for their service, kids are still sneaking onto the platform with few checks and balances. And while Apple can lead by example, perhaps the tech industry as a whole needs to do some more (virtual) soul searching.