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Stanford Students Call on Apple to Combat Phone Addiction


March 6, 2018 1:56 PM
by 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.

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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Marie D.  on  4/15/2018 11:12:16 PM commented:

So I assume no one understands what personal responsibility means anymore? It's not Apple job to help you deal with your obsession with your phone, it's your job. Apple isn't a babysitter, it's a company that wants to make money.

Jeniel Z  on  3/7/2018 11:42:45 PM commented:

These issues are legitimate, yes. However, it's not the obligation or even right of a company to directly interfere with what a person can or cannot do with their phone. Of course, optional features that would assist those who DO wish to take greater responsibility for their phone usage could definitely have benefits, but automatic shutdowns would (beyond the resistance of social media companies) coerce people who have the autonomy to be irresponsible with their phone usage to comply with opinions that a company has no right to enforce. For the sake of the students' argument, however, non-invasive features to help deal with these problems are perfectly acceptable and, based on my personal experience, could certainly assist in reducing phone addiction and other complications. As Hallie so wonderfully explained below, breweries are not responsible for reducing alcoholism, and phone companies are not responsible for reducing phone addiction. Ultimately, the liability falls to the consumer

Hallie  on  3/7/2018 12:41:06 PM commented:

This is asinine. As much as phones may be addictive, it's up to the individual to restrain themselves from their devices, not companies. You don't tell breweries to limit the alcohol they sell; it's not their responsibility to prevent alcoholism. Proposing new features for the devices is one thing, sure, but ultimately I think these people will be laughed at.

Garrett F.  on  3/6/2018 5:48:43 PM commented:

Awkward considering Samsung already has the features they want, haha. Samsung has both a mode that allows only basic functions (call, text, camera) and a way to view how much time and battery is spent on each app during a day and a week.

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