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The Anxious Generation

How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness

Jonathan Haidt



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Allen Lane
26 April 2024
A powerful argument for reclaiming childhood - and all human relationships - from the online world, from the influential social psychologist and international bestselling author

Jonathan Haidt has spent his career speaking truth and wisdom in some of the most difficult spaces - communities polarized by politics and religion, campuses battling culture wars, and now the mental health emergency hitting teenagers today in many countries around the world.

In The Anxious Generation, Haidt shows how, between 2010 and 2015, childhood and adolescence got rewired. As teens traded in their flip phones for smartphones packed with social media apps, time online soared, including time spent comparing oneself to a vast pool of others. Time engaging face-to-face with friends and family plummeted, and so did mental health.

But this is not just a story about technology; this profound shift took place against a backdrop of declining childhood freedom and free-play, as parents over-supervised every aspect of their children's lives offline, depriving them of the experiences they most need to become strong and self-governing adults.

In this book, Haidt makes a compelling argument that the loss of play-based childhood and its replacement with a phone-based childhood that is not suitable for human development is the source of increased mental distress among teenagers. The Anxious Generation delves into the latest psychological and biological research to show the four fundamental ways in which a phone-based childhood disrupts development - sleep deprivation, social deprivation, cognitive fragmentation and addiction. Haidt offers separate in-depth analyses of what has happened to girls, and what has happened to boys, offering practical advice for parents, schools, governments, and teens themselves. Drawing on ancient wisdom and cutting-edge research, this eye-opening book is a life raft and a powerful call-to-arms.
Imprint:   Allen Lane
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 241mm,  Width: 160mm,  Spine: 35mm
Weight:   619g
ISBN:   9780241647660
ISBN 10:   0241647665
Pages:   400
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Young adult ,  ELT Advanced ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist and the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business. He is the author of The Righteous Mind and co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind.

Reviews for The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness

If this important book rings enough alarms to make politicians impose a genuine social media ban on children, I believe most parents would be happy and most teenagers happier * The Times, Book of the Week * Urgent and essential . . . it ought to become a foundational text for the growing movement to keep smartphones out of schools, and young children off social media -- Sophie McBain * Guardian * Compelling, readable, remarkably persuasive . . . methodically sets out the problem, the harm it’s causing and what we can do about it . . . a clarion-call to parents everywhere -- Lucy Denyer * Telegraph * Erudite, engaging, combative, crusading -- Tracy Dennis-Tiwary * New York Times Book Review * Deals seriously with counter-arguments and gaps in the evidence . . . all the suggestions sound sensible. Some even sound fun * Economist * Shows how smartphones have damaged the teenage mind . . . interweaving distressing analysis alongside practical advice -- Ed Smith * New Statesman * The Anxious Generation by Jonathan Haidt sets out inarguable evidence that smartphones are fuelling an anxiety epidemic among young people — and big tech must do more to reverse it … an extremely important and compelling read… I can’t recommend this book highly enough; everyone should read it. It is a game-changer for society * Irish Independent * a persuasive and rousing argument -- Anna Davis * Evening Standard * An urgent and provocative read on why so many kids are not okay—and how to course correct. . . . even if you’re not ready to ban smartphones until high school, this book will challenge you to rethink how we nurture the potential in our kids and prepare them for the world -- Adam Grant * author of Think Again * Jonathan Haidt is a modern-day prophet, disguised as a psychologist. In this book, he’s back to warn us of the dangers of a phone-based childhood. He points the way forward to a brighter, stronger future for us all -- Susan Cain * author of Quiet * This is a crucial read for parents of children of elementary school age and beyond, who face the rapidly changing landscape of childhood. Haidt lays out problems but also solutions for making a better digital life with kids -- Emily Oster * author of Expecting Better * Every single parent needs to stop what they are doing and read this book immediately. Jonathan Haidt is the most important psychologist in the world today, and this is the most important book on the topic that’s reshaping your child’s life right now -- Johann Hari * author of Stolen Focus * This key book deserves attention * Independent *

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