Stanford Students Call on Apple to Combat Phone Addiction

Stanford Students Call on Apple to Combat Phone Addiction
Susan Dutca-Lovell

A new Stanford Student group, the Stanford Students Against Addictive Devices (SSAD) led a student-protest over the weekend asking Apple for help in getting its users to put their phones down. Led by computer science majors, the group wants to bring awareness to the public health issue which, research shows, "can have serious implications for people's mental and physical health."

Though excessive phone use is "not unique to Apple," the group decided to target the company "because where they lead, other companies will follow." The group is asking Apple to "make it easier for users to track how much they are using their phones"; a health tracking device similar to the one that counts users steps but instead "could track how much time you spend on Snapchat or Facebook." Additionally, they want to see an "essential mode" that would "limit phone use to just basic functions." According to the group's research, "50 percent of teens are addicted to their phones, and 69 percent of adults check their phone hourly." Furthermore, "a growing body of evidence" indicates that individuals who frequently use digital devices are more prone to addictive behavior.

During their demonstration outside of Apple HQ, Apple engineers were "empathetic to their cause and took home leaflets." One Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University offered another solution: automatically shutting down phones at night for better sleep, "with exceptions such as permitting emergency calls." Professor Twenge claims that getting social media companies to engage in the conversation would be a "tougher sell." Do you support this group's initiative? Why or why not?

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