The Anxious Generation (Book Review)

Written by Michelle Watson

June 25, 2024

You’ll love it if
you’re worried about what smartphones and social media are doing to the kids

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

The Anxious Generation

By Jonathan Haidt

Writing Craft
Moral Value

“Do NOT let your boys get Snapchat when they’re older!”

My 18-year-old niece said this to me a couple of days after I finished reading this book.

“I’ve never had Snapchat,” I said, “What is it?”

She told me about her brief but potent relationship with the app that ended in January of this year when she deleted it for good. Her story (which included lots of teen drama and unwanted nude photos) reinforced a lot of the issues and concerns that Haidt highlights in this book.

Jonathan Haidt says that, starting around 2010-ish, we began to replace a play-based childhood with a phone-based childhood, and it’s had disastrous results for kids, causing an increase in anxiety and depression.

This book is a must-read for parents who don’t want their kids to have smartphones or social media (too early) but they’re not quite sure why they want this. They’re not sure how to say no. They’re not sure if it’s right to say no.

Jonathan Haidt lays out research and stats, and he also says things that, to me, are common sense and don’t require scientific backing for me to believe them. (Example: Kids today aren’t given the same level of independence or allowed to engage in the same type of risky play that their parents enjoyed at the same age, and this hasn’t kept them safer or made them braver.)

I’m not a big fan of getting the government involved to make laws that could have implications down the road that we can’t predict, but I do love his suggestions for how parents and educators can band together outside of the law to change the ether surrounding phone use at home and at school.

He says that we need to protect kids online WAY more than we are now, and conversely, allow them WAY more independence in the real world than we do now. He suggests practical ways we can do both.

Let’s have the guts to be the parents that this generation needs!


More along these lines…


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