Pushing Back on Teen Anxiety

Last month, I read social psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s new book, “The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness.” Over the past few years, I have found Haidt to be a trustworthy voice of reason regarding those issues that foster healthy growth and development in our kids, and those practices that are harmful. In his latest book, Haidt provides clear evidence of how smartphones have contributed in major ways to the teen mental health crisis. He offers these four common-sense rules that could change the narrative and help our kids. First, kids should not have a smart phone before high school. They are not ready for the addictive nature of smartphones. Second, no social media before the age of sixteen. It is addictive and fosters harmful comparison. Third, no phones at school. And finally, kids need more independence, free play, and responsibility in the real world. Our kids need to play without adult supervision.