Dr. Jonathan Haidt: How Smartphones & Social Media Impact Mental Health & the Realistic Solutions


Huberman Lab

In this episode, my guest is Dr. Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D., professor of social psychology at New York University and bestselling author on how technology and culture impact the psychology and health of kids, teens, and adults. We discuss the dramatic rise of suicide, depression, and anxiety as a result of replacing a play-based childhood with smartphones, social media, and video games.

He explains how a screen-filled childhood leads to challenges in psychological development that negatively impact learning, resilience, identity, cooperation, and conflict resolution — all of which are crucial skills for future adult relationships and career success. We also discuss how phones and social media impact boys and girls differently and the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of how smartphones alter basic brain plasticity and function.

Dr. Haidt explains his four recommendations for healthier smartphone use in kids, and we discuss how to restore childhood independence and play in the current generation.

This is an important topic for everyone, young or old, parents and teachers, students and families, to be aware of in order to understand the potential mental health toll of smartphone use and to apply tools to foster skill-building and reestablish healthy norms for our kids.

For show notes, including referenced articles and additional resources, please visit hubermanlab.com.

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00:00:00 Dr. Jonathan Haidt

00:02:01 Sponsors: Helix Sleep, AeroPress & Joovv

00:06:23 Great Rewiring of Childhood: Technology, Smartphones & Social Media

00:12:48 Mental Health Trends: Boys, Girls & Smartphones

00:16:26 Smartphone Usage, Play-Based to Phone-Based Childhood

00:20:40 The Tragedy of Losing Play-Based Childhood

00:28:13 Sponsor: AG1

00:30:02 Girls vs. Boys, Interests & Trapping Kids

00:37:31 “Effectance,” Systems & Relationships, Animals

00:41:47 Boys Sexual Development, Dopamine Reinforcement & Pornography

00:49:19 Boys, Courtship, Chivalry & Technology; Gen Z Development

00:55:24 Play & Low-Stakes Mistakes, Video Games & Social Media, Conflict Resolution

00:59:48 Sponsor: LMNT

01:01:23 Social Media, Trolls, Performance

01:06:47 Dynamic Subordination, Hierarchy, Boys

01:10:15 Girls & Perfectionism, Social Media & Performance

01:14:00 Phone-Based Childhood & Brain Development, Critical Periods

01:21:15 Puberty & Sensitive Periods, Culture & Identity

01:23:55 Brain Development & Puberty; Identity; Social Media, Learning & Reward

01:33:37 Tool: 4 Recommendations for Smartphone Use in Kids

01:41:48 Changing Childhood Norms, Policies & Legislature

01:49:13 Summer Camp, Team Sports, Religion, Music

01:54:36 Boredom, Addiction & Smartphones; Tool: “Awe Walks”

02:03:14 Casino Analogy & Ceding Childhood; Social Media Content

02:09:33 Adult Behavior; Tool: Meals & Phones

02:11:45 Regaining Childhood Independence; Tool: Family Groups & Phones

02:16:09 Screens & Future Optimism, Collective Action, KOSA Bill

02:24:52 Zero-Cost Support, Spotify & Apple Reviews, YouTube Feedback, Social Media, Neural Network Newsletter


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