Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Stanford students demand Apple make smartphones less addictive

Here at the Legal Skills Prof Blog, we've been tracking the growing movement among educators and other affected groups publicizing the problem of mobile device addiction including a call to cut back on using the devices and for manufacturers to redesign them so they're less addictive (here, here, here and here). I know there are many teachers who believe we should take students as we find them in terms of conforming to their expectations when it comes to the use of smartphones and other digital devices in the classroom.  But that's always struck me as a little crazy insofar as our classroom decisions should be first and foremost driven by sound pedagogy and what best serves the interests of effective learning, not student habits, behaviors or their predilection for digital devices (though both interests are not always mutually exclusive).  Rather than enable habits that undermine the attentional skills needed to do intellectually demanding work, we should instead be teaching students about the many physical and mental health benefits associated with "putting down the damn phone" every once in a while (here too). 

In light of that, it's good to see this article from Inside Higher Ed reporting on a group of Stanford students demonstrating outside Apple's Palo Alto headquarters to demand that the tech giant redesign its smartphones in ways that make them less addictive by helping to curb use. From IHE:

Stop Me Before I Text Again 

Few universities have closer ties to Silicon Valley and more love for technology than Stanford University. Walk around its beautiful campus and it's hard to find a student who isn't using or carrying a smartphone. But students there -- computer science majors, no less -- have started a protest movement urging Apple to help its customers put down their phones.


The student group, called Stanford Students Against Addictive Devices, recently held demonstrations outside Apple’s headquarters and its Palo Alto, Calif., store to draw attention to the issue of smartphone addiction.


The students held signs such as “Honk! If you’re addicted to your iPhone.”


Led by four computer science majors, the group said they were inspired to act after taking a mandatory course in ethical issues in computer science.


Though the class encouraged students to engage with the public, the students said they weren’t protesting for credit.


“We realized that we ourselves, and many of our friends, have issues with device dependence,” said Cameron Ramos, one of the students leading the group. “We thought that reaching out to Apple and engaging with consumers directly would be the best way to raise awareness about this issue.”


On the SSAAD website, the students point to research that shows excessive use of smartphones can have serious implications for people’s mental and physical health.


“It’s an important public health issue, and something that we think needs to be addressed,” said Ramos. “We want people to start talking about this in Silicon Valley and beyond.”

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Continue reading here.


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