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  • Two major Apple shareholders recently wrote an open letter expressing concern about the addictive power of the company’s products.
  • A growing body of research has found kids are particularly vulnerable to overuse of tech products, often suffering mental health issues as a result.

Two Apple shareholders with a collective $2 billion stake in the company recently wrote a letter expressing concern that kids were developing addictions to products like the iPhone.

“We have reviewed the evidence and we believe there is a clear need for Apple to offer parents more choices and tools to help them ensure that young consumers are using your products in an optimal manner,” wrote the shareholders, Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.

Kids get their empathy back when they go tech-free

The research isn’t conclusive that Apple products — or any consumer tech, for that matter — creates addiction, but it does present a picture in which young people experience extreme side effects from heavy technology use.

Studies have also shown big leaps in empathy and mental health when kids stop using their smartphones and other devices. Psychology experts tend to view these effects as signs that technology dampens kids’ natural tendency to feel compassion for others.

In addition to a wide body of research on smartphones affecting sleep quality, there were three main studies the authors of the recent Apple letter leaned on to make their case.

teenagers kids phonesThe primary study was published in 2014 in Computers in Human Behavior. The study involved roughly 100 pre-teens, half of whom spent five days on a tech-free retreat. The other half served as the control, living their lives as they normally would.

After just five days, researchers saw huge gains in empathy and so-called “nonverbal emotional cues,” such Read More Here