Corporate//

Two Shareholders Are Pushing Apple to Focus on Smartphone Overuse

A letter from two Apple shareholders urges the company to be more socially conscious.

The conversation about our relationship to technology and the potential dangers of our addiction to technology has hit a new level. The Wall Street Journal reports that two major Apple shareholders, Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs), have sent an open letter to Apple urging the company to exercise more responsibility for the impact of its products, especially on children and teens. Together, these shareholders control about $2 billion of Apple shares—a company with close to a $900 billion market value.

Apple currently offers limited parental controls, but these two shareholders are asking the tech giant to focus much more on the “growing public-health crisis of youth phone addiction.”

Jana and Calstrs are working with experts Jean M. Twenge of San Diego State University and Michael Rich of Harvard Medical School to push for this change. “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,” the letter states. “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.”

WSJ explains that Apple is only a “first target” for Jana, which is seeking to raise a several-billion-dollar fund to target other companies it believes are neglecting corporate responsibility.

On a hopeful note, WSJ points out that Apple’s Chief Executive Tim Cook has worked to make the company more socially responsible in the past, focusing on topics such as the environment, immigration, and the U.S. economy.

Read more about the shareholders’ letter to Apple here

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