The California State Teachers’ Retirement System and U.S. investment manager Jana Partners have sent an open letter to Apple Inc. encouraging the company to address the problem of phone addiction among young people.

Collectively, the two investors hold approximately US$2 billion in Apple shares, according to the letter, which expresses concern that if left unaddressed the negative publicity stemming from this issue will harm the value of that investment.

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Citing multiple studies that suggest a balanced approach when it comes to young people’s smartphone use, the letter states excessive use can have severely harmful effects.

For example, the research of a psychology professor at San Diego State University shows that children in grade eight who are heavy users of social media have a 27 per cent higher risk of depression, according to the letter. As well, U.S. teenagers spending five hours or more per day on electronic devices are 71 per cent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide than those who spend less than an hour.

In developing a solution, the letter suggests parents should be involved in helping their children spend a developmentally optimal amount of time using such devices. In addition to aiding with further research on the topic, the letter notes Apple should enhance mobile device software to ensure parents have more control “so that their child or teenager is not being handed the same phone as a 40-year-old, just as most products are made safer for younger users.”

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Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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