Image of 2 little girls using a smartphone

In his latest work, "The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness," social psychologist Jonathan Haidt proposes a controversial yet compelling solution to protect teenagers.

Haidt has been making waves with his radical approach to tackling the growing mental health crisis among American teenagers. In this article, we delve into a conversation with him and will dissect his methodology and discuss why his recommendations might just be the solution to protect teenagers.

The Underlying Issue: Smartphones And Social Media

Haidt suggests that children should be practically devoid of smartphones and social media until they reach the age of 16. See the ins and outs of this theory below.

  • Haidt's theory, backed by years of research, points to a significant increase in mental health issues among American tweens and teens.
  • The American Psychological Association recently endorsed his concerns, criticizing social media platforms for being "inherently unsafe for children."
  • However, they argue that the responsibility should fall on the platforms' developers rather than solely on parents or young users.

Haidt's conclusion asserts that if adults do not intervene, the mental well-being of all youths could be indefinitely jeopardized. The professor has been tirelessly promoting his book's message since its publication in late March.

The Eye-Opening Interview: Haidt's Perspective

In an interview with CNN, Haidt discusses his findings, his book, and what the future holds for parents and teenagers. Check out the main points below.

  • Haidt claims that lost play-based childhoods and the subsequent rise of technology saw children spending most of their day on screens.
  • The surprising data point is a significant decrease in the number of broken bones among teenage boys since 2010 as they spend more time on screens.
  • The crisis affects boys and girls differently, with boys gravitating towards video games and YouTube while girls prefer Instagram.
  • Haidt believes we're at a tipping point in this crisis, with data on mental health showing a significant increase even before Covid-19.

His solution is four simple norms, including no smartphones before high school and no social media until 16.

What If We Don't Act?

Haidt warns of rising rates of mental illness, self-harm, and suicide, along with significant social and economic implications. Therefore, it seems vital to heed his call to action and rethink our approach to smartphone and social media usage among teens.