Apple’s Board Acknowledges Adverse Effects of Excessive iPhone Use in Kids

According to a recent article in The Washington Post; two significant shareholders of Apple have encouraged the company to take action on countering the ill effects that excessive screen time can do to children. An open letter to Apple’s board of directors this month from Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which combined control $2 billion worth of Apple stock, presented scientific research showing the harmful consequences to young people from the pervasive presence of tech devices and social media (Board, 2018). The article went on to cite “decrease in ability to focus on educational tasks, difficulty with social interactions, loss of empathy, links to stress, and higher risks of depression and suicide” (Board, 2018) as potential harmful side effects of excessive screen time. The article went on to ask thought-provoking questions such as, “what is the right balance?”, “do makers of the devices need to do more to build in protections?” or “do parents need just to do their job in setting limits for their children?” (Board, 2018) The letter provided some helpful suggestions on how to manage children’s time with devices. Some suggestions include creating a committee of child-development experts to study the issue and developing better ways for parents to limit screen time (Board, 2018). Parents are the gatekeepers to tech use and must establish and enforce parameters to limit their children’s use of tech. The article concluded with Apple working on ways to strengthen existing controls as well as more options to customize controls.

By Zach Simms

Response by Dr. Joe Roszkowski: Excessive and obsessive use of the phone is a problem we are seeing with increased frequency. Children are presenting as if they are addicted to their phones, and this is creating significant conflicts between parents and their children. Consistent with emerging research on the topic, excessive phone usage seems to increase irritability, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. I have been encouraging and supporting parents in following the recommendation of the American Medical Association and limit their child’s ‘screen’ time to two hours a day.

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