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Indicating that they hope Apple will implement new iOS features designed to curb the “smartphone addiction epidemic,” a passionate group of Stanford University students gathered over the weekend to rally outside the company’s Palo Alto, California Apple Store. There, with their flashy signs and empirically derived statistics in tow, they demanded that the company should be doing more to address the issue.
The group, who goes by Stanford Students Against Addictive Devices (SSAAD), allegedly staged the protest on Saturday outside Apple’s University Avenue Store in downtown Palo Alto, chanting how they hope Apple will ultimately “adjust software features to mitigate users’ constant focus on their devices,” according to a report published by The Stanford Daily News.
“We felt that this is the kind of change that a lot of consumers have to demand before Apple takes sustained action,” said Sanjay Kannan, Stanford Class of 2018. “We did some research into how prevalent the problem was, and we realized that 50 percent of teens are addicted to their phones, and 69 percent of adults check their phone hourly.”
SSAAD summarized their findings into a flyer, ironically suggesting that ‘Apple Holds Us Captive’, which was displayed proudly both at the scene of the protest and uploaded online. It contains the aforementioned statistics — along with a wide range of talking points including how phone addiction can have adverse consequences on stress, relationships, and productivity, while going on to outline what smartphone users can do to help combat the issue.
While Apple is certainly not the only smartphone maker in the world, the group asserts that Cupertino is culpable, specifically, because “iPhones are our gateway to addictive services,” such as social media sites like Facebook, and, for that reason, “Apple is uniquely capable of helping us curb our dependence.”
“Even though Apple’s business model does not rely on device addiction, they fail to take common sense steps to address the issue,” SSAAD concluded in their analysis.
Humorously, SSAAD proposed some iOS features of their own which Apple could implement to help combat the issue, including a so-called “Essential Mode” — described as a way of limiting iPhone to performing only “essential functions” like placing a phone call, sending a text, or browsing photos, for example.
This weekend’s protest is ironically the latest in a string of recent events which have thrust the issue of smartphone addiction into the limelight. Earlier this year, an outspoken group of Apple investors penned an open letter to the company and its board of directors, citing similar, smartphone addiction concerns and statistics.
Apple, for its part, has in response pledged to implement new features as part of a future iOS software update, which will likely be designed to give users more insight into their usage patterns.
In a Bloomberg report published earlier this month, Mark Gurman highlighted what we can expect to see in Apple’s upcoming iOS 12 software update. Specifically, with regards to SSAAD’s concerns, the long-time Apple analyst pointed to the iPhone’s impending ‘Digital Health’ tool, which will address some of the group’s concerns by providing parents with clear insight into their kid’s usage patterns.