Apple investors sound alarm over iPhone addiction risks for children

Investors are issuing a warning to tech giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to curb its smartphone marketing strategy amid fears the iPhone is a mental health hazard to children.

Activist investors Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), which own about $2 billion worth of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock combined, expressed their concerns in an open letter, saying the iPhone is designed to be “as addictive and time-consuming as possible.”

DivaMoms CEO Lyss Stern told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto Monday that the excessive use of smartphones among children is what keeps parents up at night.

“It is toxic, especially for their brains that are developing so fast. Their full frontal lobes aren’t even developed yet, and there’s just too much information being thrown at them so fast all the time,” she said.

Investors point to several studies that suggest the attachment of digital devices is associated with lack of sleep, higher stress levels that may lead to a greater risk of depression and suicide.

“They’re talking about it from a point of view of an investor, particularly Jana just saying, ‘Listen, if this is found to be true that these link kids to more anxiety, more depression, even in extreme cases suicide, that’s going to be bad for the stock,’” FOX Business’ Deirdre Bolton said.

The activist investors are urging Apple to develop software that limits time use of its digital products and to fund research to look into links between anxiety levels and excessive smartphone use. The letter calls for Apple to enhance its limited parental controls to provide a more balance approach.

“I would never just give my kids the keys to a car and say, ‘Go drive,’” Stern said. “We’ve taken steps to train and teach our children, especially the youngest boy, about social media, about what you can and cannot do.”