iPhones Pose Suicide Risk to Teenagers, Apple Investors Warn

By Elliot Bullman

A pair of investors who say they hold about $2 billion in Apple stock are pushing the company to do more to protect its youngest users from the effects of digital technology.

Two major Apple shareholders have taken the unusual step of warning the Cupertino company about the potential dangers of their most popular product.

Iphone suicids 1© Getty Images

In anopen letterto Apple, published on Saturday, Barry Rosenstein and Anne Sheehan cited studies linking the use of iPhones and other devices to increased suicide rates amongteens.

Writing on behalf of hedge fund JanaPartners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)—who collectively own around $2 billion in Apple shares—the pair highlighted the need for more research into the impact of smartphone use among young people.

Iphone suicids 2© gknmission.org

The investors cited research from Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital and San Diego State University which found children using digital technologies , such as the laptops, tablets and smartphones Apple makes, are more prone to depression, suicide, being easily distracted and displaying a lack of empathy.

Addressing the issue now could help Apple avoid an impending reckoning as unease grows over the role technology and social media play in our daily lives, the shareholders wrote.

“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,” the investors wrote.

Iphone suicids 3© tctechcrunch2011

The solution, they argued, is not to banish such devices from children’s hands, but to help parents help them understand how to use technology with care.

To achieve that goal, they said, Apple should form a committee of experts, fund research, improve parental controls in its products, educate parents and regularly report on the company’s progress.

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