Stanford computer-science students want Apple to make a mode for the iPhone that allows only calls, texts, and photos

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Stanford University students
Stanford orientation. Not the students leading the protest.
Linda Cicero via Facebook/stanford

  • Some Stanford students have started a group called Stanford Students Against Addictive Devices.
  • The group, led by computer-science majors, held a protest Saturday at an Apple Store in Palo Alto, California.
  • They recommend that Apple create an "essential mode" that would limit the iPhone to making calls, sending and receiving texts, and taking photos.
  • Read Business Insider's complete interview with the group here.
  • This is an installment of Business Insider's "Your Brain on Apps" series that investigates how addictive apps can influence behavior.

At a memorable commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005, the Apple cofounder Steve Jobs reminded students that their "time is limited."

Over a decade later, a group of Stanford students are doing something to take their time back — by protesting Apple for making addictive devices.

A new group called Stanford Students Against Addictive Devices held a protest at an Apple Store in the heart of Silicon Valley over the weekend, according to The Stanford Daily and Palo Alto Online.

It turns out the group is being led by Stanford computer-science majors — people who are learning the very skills needed to build the systems that many blame for device addiction.

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The Stanford students explained why they were protesting Apple specifically in a pamphlet on their website.

"iPhones are our gateway to addictive services (read: Facebook and company), so Apple is uniquely capable of helping us curb our dependence," they said. "Even though Apple's business model does not rely on device addiction, they fail to take common sense steps to address the issue."

The students leading the group, Sanjay Kannan, Evan Sabri Eyuboglu, Divyahans Gupta, and Cameron Ramos, are computer-science majors, according to The Stanford Daily.

The group has outlined a way for Apple to "take phone addiction seriously." It recommends that Apple build new features into the iPhone including one that tracks phone use, more nuanced control over notifications, and an "essential mode" that allows only calls, texts, and photos.

In the meantime, the students recommend users turn their notifications off and try using their phone in a gray mode "to minimize dopamine hits."

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It's unclear how many people attended Saturday's protest. Palo Alto Online said a "steady stream of friends and supporters" joined them through the afternoon. On a Facebook invite for the event, nine people were listed as attending and 28 were interested.

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