The first thing Alfredo Santos does when he wakes up each morning is check his iPhone. The rest of the day, the 16-year-old from New York City can’t seem to put the device down, whether he’s in class, at the dinner table, or lying in bed trying to fall asleep.
“If I can feel my phone in my pocket, I just want to take it out and check it,” says Santos, a 10th grader at New York Harbor School. “It’s just tempting.”
Santos is far from alone in succumbing to the constant itch to check an Instagram feed, view a friend’s latest Snapchat story, or play another round of Word Cookies. On average, Americans check their phones once every 12 minutes, according to a recent study by the tech company Asurion.
Many psychologists, teachers, and parents have long worried that teens are spending too much time on their phones. But now, even some people within the tech industry are saying that their products, which were designed to get you hooked, are too difficult to put down.
In January, two of Apple’s largest investors wrote an open letter to the company, pressuring Apple to do more to combat what many people see as a growing health crisis among young people: phone addiction. Together, these investors—JANA Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System—own about $2 billion worth of Apple stock.
“The days of just throwing technology out there and washing your hands of the potential impact are over,” says Barry Rosenstein of JANA Partners.