We MUST BAN Smart Phones & Social Media use by Children


Dr. Jonathan Haidt's Must Watch Video that Explains How Smart Phones and Social Media have Destroyed and are continuing to Destroy our Youth and What WE ALL MUST Do to Stop the Destruction!


1) Get Your Child
a Flip Phone and take away the Smart Phone - NOW!
2) Cancel any Social Media Accounts they have
3) Start to Give your Kids Unsupervised Play time with Other Kids
4) Talk to your School about Banning Phones in School
5) Talk to your School about Opening the Playground an Hour Before School for Play
6) Talk to your School about after school play time once per week
7) Talk to your Legislators about repealing any Law the interfears with Unsupervised Play
8) Talk to your Legislators about Banning anyone under 16 from having a Smart Phone

 Click Here to Download the Text of the Bill Just Passed in Florida to do this!
9) Talk to your Legislators about Banning the use of ANY Social Media by anyone under 16 - with penalties for PARENTS!
10) Talk to your Legislators about fining Social Media Companies and Phone Carries who do not stop anyone under 16 for using social media in your state.
11) Talk to your Legislators about massive fines/penaties for PARENTS of anyone who distributes
DeepNude Fakes of anyone under age 16.
12) Sign up for "Let Grow" TODAY for Help and Ideas

READ: Governor Huckabee Sander's Letter to ALL 50 Governer Urging Them to Pass Anti-Social Media Legislation

READ: DeSantis Signs Bill in Florida Banning Social Media for Children Under 14

UPDATE 4/27/24: New report from the American Psychological Association warns that kids are particularly vulnerable to harm from social media.

Please watch this video or READ the Transcript below and the SHARE IT WITH EVERYONE you know using the Share Buttons on this Page! Then Take Action NOW!!!
Here is the Transcript:

Dr. Haidt: [00:00:05] It's really a pleasure to be here, to be back for a few reasons. One is that I have not heard so much reasonable talk about education since the 20th century, so I'm excited to be here in the land of normal people who think about education. Um, another reason is because I had a great time when I was here with you last four years ago, I came and gave a talk with that, that table of contents. Just from curiosity, how many of you were here for that? Raise your hand if you were here. Okay, good. So most of you, for most of you, this will be fresh material. Now, actually, it is all fresh material because I just finished or I'm just about to finish this book. I've got to go back to my hotel room and work on the the modifications to it, but it'll come out on March 26th. The anxious generation and I have a lot more to tell you now than I did four years ago. In fact, I'm going to try to lay out six six points about what has happened to to people born after 1995 or Gen Z. And I'm going to end with very specific asks of you. And what's so exciting about this conference is that you can actually do something about this. You can actually. Implement policies and change laws that will have a direct impact on mental health, and that will make it so much easier for the rest of us.

Dr. Haidt: [00:01:21] All of us parents are in a bind. All of us are in a trap. All of us feel pressure. Oh, if I don't give my my daughter a phone or a social media, she's the only one who's left. You can help us break out of these collective action traps. So here's here's the story and here's what I hope you can do. So let's start with just the basic facts about what has happened to young people in in the 20 tens. Gen Z people born after 1995 sort of snuck up on us. We, the students who arrived on campus in, uh, in 2014 were different from those who were arriving a couple of years before. They had higher rates of those things that you see there. But the really characteristic feature of Gen Z is very, very high rates of psychological disorders. And it's not all psychological disorders. It's mostly anxiety and depression. So if you look these were the rates reported by college mental health centers in 2008 2010. But as we go on in the 20 tens, this is what happens. And it's not that everybody was getting more anxious in the 20 tens. If we look at the differences by generation, they weren't very big in 2010. But over the course of the 20 tens, something hits Gen Z and the younger millennials, but it's really hitting Gen Z. It doesn't touch older people and it's not evenly divided between the sexes.

Dr. Haidt: [00:02:46] So there's always been it's always been the case that girls and women experience more internalizing disorders and anxiety depression. But as we go through this period, it's the girls who really get hit. Now, boys are not doing well either, but the being depressed or anxious is now a normal part of being an American girl. And I want to point out something you'll see in a couple of the graphs. The 2020 data was collected in early 2020 before Covid restrictions. The 2021 data is after Covid restrictions, so you can see the effect of Covid, right? If you squint, you can see the effect of Covid. This was all baked in by 2019. Now, some said and still say that, oh, this is just another moral panic. The older folks, they always freak out about digital whatever communication technology the young people are using. And you know, this is not even a real epidemic. It's just self report. The young people are self-reporting that. They're anxious and depressed. That's a good thing, that they're they're not ashamed. But this is not true. And we know that because if we look at behavior that is not self-reported, we see the same thing. So this is the number per 100 in the US population, that of young girls 10 to 14, who end up in emergency rooms because they harmed themselves mostly cutting. And what you see is that the rate for boys didn't go up well. It went up somewhat, but the girls rate tripled, nearly tripled.

Dr. Haidt: [00:04:15] Pre-teen girls didn't use to cut themselves, and now they do. And tragically, we see it in completed suicides. So this is these were the rates for for for boys on top now and girls and again in this period. So this is not self-report. And there's a really striking shocking feature of this graph, which is a 67% increase in suicides in one year. What happened in 2012 such that many more girls were killing themselves in 2013? Well, 2012 is the year that all the girls got on Instagram. And it's not just here, it's happening in all of the English speaking countries. Here's self-harm data in the UK, same in Australia, New Zealand looking at a different way in Canada. Question is your mental health excellent or very good on a five point scale? And the top line there is the young girls, the teen and young young girls, young women. And what we see is they used to be the happiest. And then in the 20 tens, they plummet and now they're the least happy. So why why do you suppose this could be happening? At the same time, in many countries? It's happening in the Scandinavian countries too. I've looked at those as well. And why is it hitting girls and especially younger teen girls the hardest? Hmm. I wonder why that could be. I've been developing an explanation called The Great Rewiring of Childhood, and I keep asking people.

Dr. Haidt: [00:05:46] Whenever I write, I say, if you disagree, tell. Give me another theory. Is there a second place theory that can explain why this happens in so many countries? Because people say, oh, you know, school shootings, you know, Newtown was 2012. That must be why. Yeah, that's why all the numbers went up in New Zealand, right. And Canada and the UK and Sweden. So nobody has yet come up with another theory other than this one, which is that the play based childhood that we've had for millions of years basically ended around 2010 and was replaced by a phone based childhood. So let's talk about those. So, you know, if you think back, think what were your fondest memories of childhood, the most fun you ever had? Okay. For how many of you was there a screen present, including a TV screen? Raise your hand if you know your greatest memories. Were watching TV or some sort of screen. Okay, not many. For how many of you were you outside with other kids? Raise your hand. Okay, that's going to be most of you for how many of you was there some element of risk like there was some risk in your play? Raise your hand. Okay, okay. So this is what childhood always was because. Because if you give kids something to take risks on, they will do it. And we might think, oh well, that's terrible. We should stop them. No, no, you should not.

Dr. Haidt: [00:07:05] These are my kids. We were we were in Iceland and they saw this like wall. And there were some like, handholds. So they, you know, they they just called out the wall, called out to them, they just ran over and just started scrambling up. Um, kids need thrills. Kids literally need risk. There's a really interesting paper that came out in 2011. There's an update of it now, um, that we evolved childhoods in which young people are motivated to take risks so that they learn how to act in the world. They learn what the limits are, and they expand their limits. In fact, taking risks is how kids get over anxiety, as they say here, as the child's coping skills improve, these situations and stimuli may be mastered and no longer feared. Thus, fear is reduced as the child experiences a motivating, thrilling activation while learning to master age adequate challenges. And so if you block risk and thrills, you keep your child fragile and fearful. You prevent them from maturing. Um, so the the play based childhood, which almost everyone in this room had began to decline, especially in the 1990s. And there's a great book by Frank Furedi, a British sociologist called Paranoid Parenting. And he's a sociologist, which is great because he really brings in all these other factors. So much social change happening in the 80s and 90s smaller families, there are not so many kids outside anymore. Working moms, you don't have eyes on the street, as Jane Jacobs had put it.

Dr. Haidt: [00:08:41] You have sex, real sex abuse scandals, and you have fake sex abuse scandals like the daycare sex abuse scandals. And the media loves all this. And both in the US and UK, we all get the sense that everyone out there is molesting children. And my god, I better keep my. I better be so careful. I better not trust anyone. And when adults stop trusting each other with their kids. This is a disaster because now you have to do everything yourself. You have to verify. You have to always be watching. You begin to put safety first. Safety above everything, safety above growth, safety above emotional development, safety, safety, safety. You can see this astonishing change happened in the United States. This is a time use studies. How much time do women spend parenting or engaged in whatever the definition was that was given in the survey? And what you see is that in the 1990s, suddenly mothers who are now they're moving ever more into the work world, so they have less time available. They have fewer children, but they're spending more time with each child. And it's the same pattern for fathers as well. So something happens in the 90s, we no longer have the idea that kids can just go out and play, and I'll do other stuff here at home. We have the idea that I have to be watching my kid at all times.

Dr. Haidt: [00:09:55] And I can prove it to you. Probably just with the people in this room. I did this demonstration four years ago. Let's see how it works. Now, I want you to all think about the age you were when you were let out. That is when you could go out the door, you know. Bye, mom. Bye, dad. I'm going over to Bobby's house. You know, Bobby lives five blocks away, and then the two of you are going to go down to to a park or a forest or the store or whatever, but you're out on your own. So if if that was you in first grade, then your number is six. If you didn't do that until seventh grade, then your number is 12. Okay. So everyone has everyone has their number. Don't say anything yet. Now we're going to do this by generation. So I'm going to first ask everyone who is born before 1981 to raise your hand. Okay. So just you you folks are Gen X and baby boomers. Okay. So just you put your hands down now. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to sweep my finger around the room. And when I when you see me pointing at your section radially here, I want you to yell out your number, you know, six, eight, ten, 12, whatever it is. Okay. Ready? Ready. Go. Okay, so there's a battle between the first graders and the third graders.

Dr. Haidt: [00:11:15] Okay, now let's try it with Gen Z. So that's what I. That's what I always find. Now let's try it with Gen Z. I'm going to skip the millennials. I'm sorry, but you're just not that interesting because you're transitional. You're just in the middle okay. So, um, okay, so I assume we have some Gen Z in this room. So if you were born in. Let's even make it 1995. If you're born in 1995 or later, raise your hand high. Okay. We don't have a lot, but we you know, we have, you know, a dozen or two dozen. Okay. So okay, so now Gen Z, we're relying on you to yell it out real loud. Okay, everyone, please be very quiet. Very quiet. Okay? Just Gen Z, just yell it out when I point to you. Ready? Go. Okay, so what happened is that we cracked down on drunk driving. The crime rate plummeted. We took perverts off the street and put him in jail. The world got really safe in the 1990s. Safer than it had ever been to be a child outside. And we just decided, you know what? You have to have two digits in your age before we'll let you outside. And so childhood completely changed. And look what we do to kids. Now, this was sent to me by a friend. Friend at Berkeley. This is an elementary school in Berkeley. And you see kids on a playground and there's a sign behind them, what does the sign say? Football rules.

Dr. Haidt: [00:12:42] And it gives you rules for how to play football. It resolve disagreements with rock, paper, scissors. The worst. Here's the worst one of all football. And this is touch football because it says only touch no tackle. Touch football can only be played if an adult is supervising and refereeing the game, because if not, children might learn skills of negotiation and conflict resolution that are necessary for democratic society. It gets worse. Tag how do you play tag? We have to tell kids how to play tag. Once again, resolve disputes with rock, paper, scissors. One finger touch because you don't want to hurt the person when you tag them. So one finger. The kids are delicate. And so what we are doing, what schools are doing when they do this nonsense is they are they are creating a cycle of incompetence which goes like this. Adults now assume social and physical incompetence of children. They can't do anything. They'll get hurt if they try. So we ban risky play and conflict. We don't understand that they're antifragile. They need risk. They need setbacks. They need conflicts. So we ban things that would help them grow. Guess what? This causes kids to be socially and physically incompetent. What effect does that have? It validates our assumption that they are socially and physically incompetent. And so you get things like this, which I recognize as a college professor. We've created a safe, non-judgmental environment that will leave your child ill prepared for life.

Dr. Haidt: [00:14:23] And that's why I think beginning in 2014, we had students on campus saying, we need protection from Shakespeare ASAP. Anybody who might say anything that might offend anybody because words are violence. Words can hurt. Literature can hurt. So that's the decline of the play based childhood. And that's that's the essential backstory to the really dramatic change that happens between 2010 and 2015. There has never been a social transformation as fast as this one. So this is a graph that shows technology adoption. And you know, when radio comes in there's always a period when everyone seems to be getting it. So the curve goes up very, very sharply until it gets to 90, you know, 90%. So radio came in very fast, color TV came in very fast. I'm showing you this because I didn't realize until I found this graph that the internet came to us in two distinct waves, and the first was amazing. So we got personal computers in the early 80s. But what could you do with them? Wordperfect, you know, WordStar, whatever it was called. But then once the internet comes in, wow, the internet is incredible. And now there's really a reason to get a computer. And do you remember how we all thought that this was going to be like, the best thing ever to happen to democracy, right. And this was going to be the best thing ever to happen to education.

Dr. Haidt: [00:15:45] Like, wow, this is going to be a golden age, the end of history, endless progress and prosperity. But then the second wave comes in social media, which begins around around 2004. All the platform major platforms and the smartphone. Now the smartphone is adopted faster than any technology in human history. In 2010, most kids didn't have one and by 2015 they did. And that's, I believe, why mental health plummets around the world. Between 2010 and 2015. We went from this a childhood where kids were out on their own. You know, in the 1980s, it was considered just normal for a nine year old kid to ride around on a bicycle with an extraterrestrial in his basket. That was just what kids did. But by 2015 that had become impossible because this is childhood today, a child sitting alone with a device. This decimates their social life. Again. Time. Use surveys. How do Americans spend their time? How much time do you spend with your friends in a typical on a typical day? And as you see, young people spend a lot of time with their friends until 2012, I mean, what else are they going to do? Older people were married. We have jobs. We're not hanging out with their friends all day. But, you know, 15 to 24, you're hanging out with friends until you all get iPhones and then you stop hanging out with friends. And here again, I want to point out 2019 was before Covid.

Dr. Haidt: [00:17:19] 2020 was collected after Covid began. Do you see the Covid effect? I don't because technology had already caused American children to be socially distanced before Covid arrived. Now, obviously Covid decimated. It was bad for many kids, but I'm pointing out is that in terms of their sociality, on average, the decline wasn't any bigger than it was the year before. And even if they're with their friends, they're not really with their friends. And it's not just the teenagers who are living this way. This is a video someone sent me last week, a video from TikTok. A father was very proud of his son. Look at the amazing things that his son can do. Watch this. He just sits there. He can play a video game. He can build a, you know, a minecraft thing. Now imagine a boy's brain hours a day doing that. That's going to change neural development. And we give our kids smartphones at very, very young ages. It keeps them quiet. It entertains them. We can do our work. A friend just sent me this in his child's daycare. They have toy iPhones, toy iPhones so the babies can do what mom and dad do. And then this is something that you'll find on the internet. This is a child in China, presumably, and he's. Yeah. He's been swiping all day long and his nervous system is rewiring around swiping. He can't stop and it's very upsetting to him.

Dr. Haidt: [00:18:55] Imagine doing this to children for their whole childhood. The damage that we're doing to kids goes far beyond mental health. I'm engaged in all kinds of debates with other psychologists who say, oh, the correlations are small. They're not big enough to explain the damage. And there's all kinds of complicated social science issues around around correlations and measurements and experiments versus correlational studies. And on my Substack, the After Babel Substack, I'm engaged in that debate. I hope you'll go check it out. I give all the geeky details there, but what I want to point out is that while the scientists are all off arguing about the connection between screen time and depression and anxiety, there's like 20 other kinds of harm that we're doing to the kids now here, I don't have time to go into them. I'm just, you know, just as I finish the book, I just made up this slide to show you what's in the book. In chapter five, I go through five foundational harms. These happen equally to boys and girls. They happen to everyone. So the opportunity cost my students spend, you know. Well, the research shows teenagers spend 7 to 9 hours a day on their phones or on, I should say, non-school related screen based activity. So leisure activities 7 to 9 hours. There's not a lot of time left in the day for anything else. Social deprivation. I already showed you sleep deprivation is up sharply since 2013.

Dr. Haidt: [00:20:12] Attention fragmentation. Students can't sit and read. It's very hard for them because they have to always be checking, checking, checking, and the phones always buzzing in their pocket because they get hundreds of notifications. My students get get a notification, a buzz. Every time they get an email message, they just leave on all the notifications and I work with them, say, shut them all off except for three. You can pick three to keep on out of the 300 apps on your phone. And then behavioral addiction, which is really devastating and is clearest for boys, as I'll show you in a moment. So now there's all kinds of additional harms to girls. So the evidence of the harms of social media is much stronger for girls than boys. And it makes sense. Girls suffer from visual, social perfectionism. I mean, imagine imagine a 14 year old girl on Instagram, millions of comparisons. She's going to see over the course of a month or two perfectionism, relational aggression, emotional contagion. Girls share emotions. They catch each other's emotions more than boys do, and therefore girls catch mental illnesses more than boys do. You can catch a mental illness from TikTok in particular. Tiktok is is is leading to various sociogenic mental illnesses like TikTok, Tourette syndrome, and also girls are more subject to sexual predation. Can you imagine if 20 or 30 years ago we said to parents, hey, we're going to have this great thing.

Dr. Haidt: [00:21:28] It's going to allow your 13 year old daughter to talk to any man in the world without your knowledge. What do you say? Let's do that, huh? I mean, what are we doing? Then there's a whole chapter on boys because the story for boys is different now. At first I couldn't really I couldn't find the evidence linking any specific thing to boys mental health. But once I read Richard Reeves book and you're so lucky. I mean, he's he's wonderful. You'll see tomorrow. He's a friend of mine. We we co-edited a book together. Richard, really, I think, has laid out the evidence that boys have been just retreat from the real world since the 70s. You know, more power to girls and women. They're, you know, huge progress in education and the work and the work force. But boys are disengaging from from school and work and family and marriage and parenting. And this is, of course, a disaster for society. In the book, Richard doesn't talk a lot about digital technology. So in chapter seven I go way much deeper. And the story basically is the virtual world gets really, really attractive, you know, in the 70s or early 80s. Think about a kid who loved computers, think about a kid who could build hardware, who knew what a motherboard was. That kid was a boy, right? Almost always. Boys were attracted to computers in the early days, and then they get better and more visual.

Dr. Haidt: [00:22:47] And then you get video games. So boys are drifting off into the virtual world in the 80s and especially the 90s. Then we get these incredible, incredibly immersive online multiplayer games. So the boys are just retreating, retreating and treating. Oh, and then porn becomes not just available, but incredibly high definition, you know? So boys now have so much stimulation in their in their ancient evolutionary interest in coalitional violence or war or sports and pornography or sex. So the boys are sort of removing themselves from, from human life, and many are getting addicted, depending on how you count it, somewhere between 2 and 10%, I would say, of boys seem to become addicted or have behavioral, um, have, you know, have have a it's called problematic use where they become their their brain is habituated, their dopamine receptors have been reset because they spend so much time stimulating themselves on video games or porn. So then when they're not doing that now, life is painful and they become more surly and irritable and negative. Raise your hand if you've seen this in a boy that you know, okay, this is happening all around the country. It's not to most boys, but to a lot of boys. We would never allow a consumer product that damaged 2 to 10% of its users if they were children, especially. So that's the story. That's just a preview of the story for boys. Basically, boys are failing to do the things that would turn them into men.

Dr. Haidt: [00:24:17] What can we do? What can you do? You are in the best position to do something about it. Most of you are parents. We're all struggling as parents, and I've heard some stories from parents who just lay down the law. They just say, this is how it's going to be. And they and they stuck to it. But most of us are having trouble doing that. So what can you do that would really make it easier for us? Let's start with rolling back the phone based childhood, because there's no point in giving kids more freedom in playtime if they have all their devices, they're just going to sit outside and do Instagram. So you have to get them off the devices you have to give them. You have to first roll back the phone based childhood before we can restore the play based childhood. So what I'm trying to do in the book is lay out four norms that will solve collective action problems. A collective action problem or a commons dilemma is where if any one of us does the right thing, like I tell my daughter, you can't have a phone in seventh grade. And she says, but everyone else does. I'm isolated. I won't know what's going on. And so it's hard for me and my family because she's the only one. But what if half of the kids, what if half the families did it? Well, then it would be easy, because all she can say is.

Dr. Haidt: [00:25:24] But, daddy, some of the kids have phones. That's not a very compelling argument. So if we could if we could just establish these as norms, guidelines. These are minimum standards. No smartphone before high school. It is insane to give a distraction device an experience blocker basically to a child, especially when they're just beginning puberty. Now, yes, you want to be able to text your child. You want to be able to communicate, give them a flip phone. Flip phones are great. They're made for communication. The millennials went through puberty on flip phones, and that's why they're okay. Gen Z went through puberty on iPhones and Instagram, and that's why they're not okay. Second norm. No social media before 16. I'm not saying 16 is a safe age. It still will cause some damage, but not nearly as much as at 13. Right now in the US, the law says the age of internet adulthood is 13. That was set in Coppa had nothing to do with mental health. It was about when kids can make can sign contracts with tech companies to give away their data. So it was set to 13 with zero enforcement. As long as meta doesn't know that you're underage, they're fine. In fact, until recently when you go to open an account, they suggest that you were born 13 years ago and then you can change that. So let's raise the age to 16 and then enforce it.

Dr. Haidt: [00:26:46] And thank you to the states that are doing that. Third, and this is the easiest one and the most urgent. This is the one you can get done by September, which is phone free schools. It's completely insane to allow phones in schools. I'll show that in a moment and then I'll get to the next. The more free play we'll get to in a moment. So I wrote an article in The Atlantic called Get Phones Out of Schools. Now, I reviewed all the evidence on what happens when kids have phones in schools. I mean, if some kids are texting, everyone has to check. Otherwise they're left out and they and everybody else will know something that they don't know. That's why, as we heard Ian say, kids used to go to the bathroom a lot more when they when you know, when they're not supposed to take out their phones, but they had them. The only way to stop kids from checking their phone is a yondr pouch or a phone locker. If you just say as as my kids schools did, oh, we have a phone band. You're not allowed to use your phone during class. You have to keep it in your pocket. You know, that would be like a, you know, a heroin recovery clinic. That said, you can take your heroin in to the to the facility, but you must not shoot up in the bathroom.

Dr. Haidt: [00:27:57] So there are all kinds of harms that come from kids having a phone in their pocket. So already it was referred to this morning. I think Ian referred to it that nape scores dropped off because of Covid. You can see that drop there right. We're all concerned about that. And that is a big drop. But actually the drop began after 2012 because once kids have a distraction device in their pocket, they're not going to they're not capable of paying full attention to a teacher. They're not capable of paying full attention to the kids sitting next to them in the lunchroom because they have their phone in front of them. They're all multitasking. Nobody is fully present. There's a beautiful line, um, uh oh from Sherry Turkle at MIT. She said, because of our phones, we are forever elsewhere.

Dr. Haidt: [00:28:48] And it's not just academic progress that tanks when kids have phones in their pockets, it's also social belonging and inclusion. So buried within the Pisa survey, a friend in New Zealand alerted me to the fact that there are six items about like loneliness and belonging in school. And what you see there is that from 2000 to 2012 administration, there was no real change in how students responded to that. This is the percent who responded above a certain threshold on six items like that. But then what do we see by 20? By the 2015 administration, most of the kids have smartphones and now they do feel lonely in school. So if you care about mental health or education by show of hands, who here cares about either mental health or education? Raise your hands. Okay, so this is all of you. Please, if you have the power to do this, either mandate phone free schools. I know in some states that can be done. I was talking with some representatives from Pennsylvania last night where you have local control you can't mandate, but what you could do is just say, we'll pay the, you know, the $7,000 per school that it costs to have a contract with yonder. We'll pay that. So any school that wants to go, go you know, do yondr pouches we'll pay. Or if you want to buy phone lockers, which is even better because the under pouches can be defeated. Just go on YouTube.

Dr. Haidt: [00:30:05] You'll find out how. But but they do make a difference. They're not perfect, but they are good. But phone lockers are the best because, you know, the kids can't get the phones out. So. So you state reps, senators, you can actually make this easy for schools to do. Second, if you have the power to introduce or enact laws that there are a few ways to do this, either raise the age for social media to 16. That's what I'm advocating in my book, that we have that as a norm, even if we get never get help from Congress or from from from state legislatures, that the norm should be 16. So if states can mandate that that will really that will really help it become a national norm. But I think the Utah approach of saying, you know what, if you're a minor, you need your parent's permission. I think that's also good. So saying that until you're 18, you need parental permission. Either approach I think is good, but I think we need to have a national consensus that social media is a product designed for adults, zero safeguards for children. It was never thought about it. Now is known to be very dangerous for children. We just should not have children on social media. Okay. And then the last part of my talk. So this is how that was how you can roll back the phone based childhood. But and I really want to emphasize this.

Dr. Haidt: [00:31:15] If you just take away all your kids devices and say, oh, this NYU professor told me this would be good for you, so I'm taking away your devices. Go ahead, have fun. Look at the wall. Okay, so you can't just do that. You have to give them back a play based childhood. You have to really help them spend time with friends, with other kids. That's what they need to be doing. So how can you do that? So of the four norms, how do we give far more free play and independence? Now everything I'm about to say was either written or developed by my friend and colleague Lenore Skenazy, who wrote the wonderful book Free Range Kids. I urge you all to read it. It really changed the way my wife and I raised our raised our children. We trusted them more. We let them out in, you know, in parks in New York City. They had a great time. Um, and so Lenore and I co-founded an organization called Let Grow. I hope you'll all go to it. Let grow. Org. And we have some very, very simple programs and they cost essentially nothing like zero. Um, so here's what we put in the book. Lenore helped me write these chapters on what schools can do. So if we want a playful school, that is, the kids are starved for play. Kids get very little play. Convicts in in high security prisons get more yard time than children in school do, even in first grade.

Dr. Haidt: [00:32:32] Um, so there's some very simple things you can do. Please give or mandate or encourage longer recess. Think about when you were a kid. How would you how would you, would you be fine with one 20 minute recess? That's horrible. Kids need a lot more resistance than they're getting. And if you think, well, they need to work on their academics too. Well, yeah. Give them more recess, give them more play, and they'll be able to focus more. They'll be able to learn more. And it really easy way that costs again almost nothing and doesn't take away from academic time is open the playground 30 minutes before class. Let them run around before class rather than rushing to school, getting in their seat homeroom so you can add play in the morning. You know you need one person to be around now, don't. They should not supervise. You don't want someone out there blowing the whistle saying, no, you you know, you you don't. You touch him. Don't you? You just want someone in case someone gets hurt. But the kids need minimally or unsupervised playtime. Um. Another program it's so simple, is we call it the Play Club. Most kids are stuffed full of after school activities, piano lessons on Monday, soccer practice on Tuesday, you know, math tutoring on Wednesday. In other words, we're turning into Korea, where kids have no childhood. They just study all day long.

Dr. Haidt: [00:33:46] And this is really bad. Of course, there are some after school activities and learning some things after school. That's good, but what they most need is to play. They need to play with each other. But how do I find other kids? They're all on their video games at home, so we have a manual on how to do this. It's very simple, but you identify one. Let's start with Friday. Friday is the best day. Start with Friday. On Friday, your school offers play club and parents can sign up for it. It's a regular after school activity every Friday after school, your kid and you know 25 other kids have play club. They're just on the playground and you put out, you know, loose parts play. You put things out for them to play with, not just the swing set, and they will invent stuff. If you just give them stuff, junk boxes, they'll invent stuff. They'll have an amazing time, and they'll have such a good time on Friday that they're going to say to each other, hey, what are you doing tomorrow? And then they'll meet up and play on the weekend rather than just doing video games all weekend. So it's so simple, but we need a central coordinating device to help the parents do this together. And finally, our most powerful program is called the Let Grow Experience or the Let Grow project originally. So again go to Let Grow org you'll find the instructions.

Dr. Haidt: [00:34:55] Basically it's a homework assignment. And this is important. The teacher assigns this to the kids. The kids go home and they say, mom, dad, I'm supposed to do something new on my own. Something I haven't done before, and I'm supposed to do it without you? Let's think of something. You know, I think I'm ready to walk the dog. Or I think I'm ready to go to the store down the street and buy a quart of milk. What do you think? And then so the parents and the children agree. The kid does it. They almost always succeed. And if they fail, they learn even more. And then they try it again. So they do it and they come back and they're just jumping with joy. I did this with my own, with my own daughter. They're just jumping with joy. It's very exciting. Then they go into school and they just write, write down what they did. It's a leaf on a tree and they're building a tree. And if you do this, if you when kids do this multiple times, like if you just do this ten times ten weeks in a row, what happens? Lenore and a colleague wrote an essay in the New York Times about about what happened. This actually reduces anxiety. It was a very small sample size. Camila Ortiz was the the colleague who did the research. It was a small sample size, but it's very promising. And this is what the parents all say that.

Dr. Haidt: [00:36:05] Their kid is less anxious. But here's the most important part the parents are less anxious. The first time you let your kid walk six blocks to get a quart of milk. You're going to be like, oh my God, is she ever going to come home? Like, what if, what if, what if? And then she comes home and then you do it again. And by the third or fourth time you do it, it's like, oh yeah, can you go get us? You know, go get some orange juice? Sure. And that's normal childhood. And then the last resource I want to give you is I want to ask you to pass a reasonable childhood independence law, because in the United States, it is not technically illegal to let your child out, but it's ambiguous. And if you send your 8 or 9 year old kid down the street to the store and a neighbor calls because she hasn't seen an unaccompanied child since the 90s, what is that thing? Quick call 911. And once the police get involved, then they're going to refer it to Child Protective Services. And before you know it, you are under supervision for years to come because you let your kid out. And so a lot of parents are afraid to do this, especially in suburban areas. And so the safest thing is just keep them home, stunt their growth. So Utah was the first state we worked with Utah.

Dr. Haidt: [00:37:18] Obviously Spencer Cox is fantastic on all these issues. He really wants to make Utah a family friendly state. Do you want your state to be family friendly, a good place to raise kids? Pass one of these laws. It says that giving your child independence cannot be taken as evidence of neglect. On its own. There has to be evidence of neglect. So Utah was first and then six other states have have joined. And I hope that your state will be next. And then finally one other, one other program I want to offer you. So everything I've been talking about has been really targeted at K through eight especially. And I haven't said much as much that's relevant to high school high schools and to parents of high school kids. Um, so in my other life, I worry about, uh, political polarization, the left right culture war, America coming apart. And so, Caroline, Mel, a really brilliant millennial who was working with me on some other projects, she and I came up with this project of, of of teaching students how other people think. And it originally it was just what are the best ideas on the left and the right? But let's make you understand why people think that. So it's designed to bridge the partisan divide, and it's developed much further than that. It's now, you know, it's automated. It's it's a it's six half hour modules. They're really fun. I do them with my students at NYU.

Dr. Haidt: [00:38:39] And the students say afterwards, like, wow, now I don't feel so afraid to talk about politics with other students. So visit Constructive dialogue org. And the program is called perspectives. So to conclude, this is the story that I've told you about the international epidemic that just emerged out of nowhere around 2012, 2013. Um, I've suggested that the reason is because our kids were weakened by the loss of play. This happened in all the English speaking countries, not as much in Scandinavia. So, but they still have the same problem. So I think this is a big part of it. But the phones, as you'll see, are the phones I think are harmful on their own. In any case, in the United States, we've weakened our kids by depriving them of the play based childhood. It's as though we said, how about if you never have any more vitamin C? Let's just take away vitamin C? Um, and instead we give them phones and the birth of a phone based childhood. I've shown you that there is damage not just to mental health, but to all kinds of social and cognitive development and academic performance. And I've shown you how you, especially those involved in legislation and policy at the state level, can do a lot to reverse this. If we can all embrace these norms and legislation and policies to support them, I think that we actually can restore adolescent mental health for almost no cost. Thank you.


Haidt Video about Social Media Affect on Kids by Tom Zawistowski is licensed under

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