Do this 1 thing to curb your kid’s anxiety today

Do this 1 thing to curb your kid’s anxiety today

Americans under the age of 30 reported lower levels of happiness from 2021 to 2023 than those over the age of 60, according to this year’s World Happiness Report.

Experts postulate that Gen Z’s misery could be due to coming of age during the Covid-19 pandemic, entering a polarized political climate, and inheriting a rapidly heating earth.

In his new book “The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness,” author Johnathan Haidt pinpoints another culprit: smart phones. Haidt is a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Zach Rausch, lead researcher to Haidt and an associate research scientist at NYU-Stern School of Business, says kids who had access to social media and iPhones in elementary and middle school report higher levels of anxiety and depression.

“The biggest effects of social media happened during puberty, especially early puberty,” he says. “Ages 9 to 15 is where the most significant harm seems to be the clearest.”

To curb bullying, social comparison, and depression in adolescents, Haidt and Rausch crafted four suggestions:

  1. No smartphones for kids before high school — give them only flip phones in middle school.
  2. No social media before age 16.
  3. Make schools phone-free.
  4. Give kids far more free play and independence, including more and better recess.

A parent might have control over when they give their child a phone or allow them to get on Instagram, but some of the more structural changes, like making schools phone-free and prioritizing recess, can’t be as quickly implemented.

If you want to make a change today that will positively impact your child’s health, Rausch says start by talking to your kids’ friends’ parents.

‘Teens and parents are stuck in a social trap’

“Teens and parents are stuck in a social trap,” Rausch says. “For anyone to try to get off of their devices or social media they end up at a pretty severe disadvantage. They increase the risk of being isolated, outcast from their friends. And then no parent wants to be the only one to say, ‘Hey, you can’t be on your device.'”

However, if your kids’ best friends also have no or limited access to smartphones, they will feel less inconvenienced by giving up their phone sometimes and better able to focus on in-person connections.

“Find a group of five families where you can kind of enact these norms of no smartphones, no social media, and then work together to provide that in person connection,” he says.

By starting to implement rules in your own community, you can show your kids the benefits on not relying on their phone for all social interactions.

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