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Damon Wells Fellow shares wisdom about device usage in childhood

Alex Cai
Damon Wells Fellow and NYU Stern professor Dr. Jonathan Haidt speaks to the Kinkaid community via a Zoom call.

Social psychologist Dr. Jonathan Haidt provided insight on the effect of an electronic-based childhood on mental health during a recent online visit to Kinkaid. 

Haidt, who made a virtual visit to Kinkaid on March 21, centered his talk around his recently published book, “The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness,” which discusses the effects of the shift from an outdoor-based childhood to an indoor one. His book claims that devices control teens instead of helping them as a tool, as psychological disorders and self-harm are greatly increasing.

“We have over protected our children in the real world and under-protected them online,” Dr. Haidt said. “The play-based childhood disappeared and was replaced by a phone-based childhood.”

Dr. Haidt proposed a few societal norms to combat the issues of a device-based childhood, including not using a smartphone until high school and social media until 16. In addition to those, he argued that teens would also benefit from a phone-free school and more outside free play and independence. 

“Dr. Haidt’s findings about the impact of devices was really interesting,” freshman Rohun Reddy said. “I agreed with the problem and some of the solutions he proposed.”

However, not all students completely agreed with the solutions that Dr. Haidt gave to stop the problem.

“I was really interested in the problems he talked about concerning the screen time impacts on our generation, as well as the data he presented,” junior Andrew Lian said. “I didn’t agree with taking away phones at school, as it didn’t work for my last school because people used other devices instead.” 

Dr. Haidt is Kinkaid’s 2023-2024 Damon Wells Fellow. The Damon Wells Fellow program is an initiative now under the Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Finance, which aims to bring leading thinkers and researchers to the Kinkaid community.

He currently serves as a professor at the New York University’s Stern School of Business and conducts research as a social psychologist. He is also a New York Times bestselling author, having written “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.” 

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Alex Cai, Staff Writer

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    Joseph FlindersApr 19, 2024 at 2:10 pm

    Was the meeting recorded and available for viewing?