March 30, 2024 – What the author is implying is that we parents need to start acting differently. Our kids’ reliance on mobile devices to pass the time starts long before high school, and it coalesces into an unshakeable habit under our watch — or, rather, while our gaze is averted and we’re looking at our phones. What Haidt doesn’t say is that parents can’t change their kids’ relationships with their phones and tablets without also addressing their own. Criticizing parents is very treacherous for any public figure, so it’s understandable that Haidt would avoid doing so.

People with very strong opinions about parenting are usually pushing a skewed ideological agenda and are best ignored. A “screen-free childhood”? Sounds precious. No thanks! Haidt may be an over-50 white guy, but he is not making an ideological argument in this book. His suggestions are realistic, and his argument is not shrill. We’re beyond moral panic. I know many children who are absolutely addicted to their mobile devices, whether we’re talking about a Nintendo Switch, a phone, or an iPad. This circumstance is normal now — so normal, in fact, that you’d be rude and tasteless to remark on it. Our social norms have been very quickly reshaped around this behavior. Kids who aren’t on iPads at the restaurant are the ones who get remarked on, not those who are.