Cellphone makers pressured to respond to addiction issues

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System want Apple to do more about young people getting addicted to their iPhones.

It’s worth noting because they own $2 billion of Apple stock, and are basically asking the company to make its product less attractive to consumers.

Yes, $2 billion is only a tiny fraction of Apple’s $900 billion value, but the California company attempts to pride itself on its social responsibility.

Half the teenagers in the United States feel like they are addicted to their mobile phones and said they feel pressure to immediately respond to phone messages, according to 2016 survey.

Online bullying is a growing problem, with suicides and attempted suicides attributed to comments shared on social media.

Former Disney child star and Justin Bieber flame Selena Gomez canceled a world tour to go into therapy for depression and low self-esteem, blaming her addiction to social media and the photo-sharing app Instagram.

Of course, there are many other issues connected to widespread smartphone use, from reduced ability to memorize and process information — why should you when you have Google? — to renewed concerns about prolonged exposure to radio frequencies.

What responsibilities do cellphone manufacturers bear in fighting cellphone addiction — is it similar to the relationship between drug companies and opioids?

Those are issues to be hashed out by the courts, regulators and lawmakers.

There are things we can do as individuals to combat the cyber blues, however.

* Limit the number of social networks you use to only those most relevant to your work and personal life.

* Cull your connections. If you really don’t know someone well or at all, don’t feel obligated to friend or follow them.

* Use lists and filters to limit what you are exposed to.

* Visit social sites only at appropriate, convenient, set times.

* Set a timer to limit the amount of time you invest in social networking.

In short, control your phone, don’t let it control you.

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