In an article published by the National Catholic Register, TCA’s Ashley McGuire unveils the science behind the childhood mental illness epidemic in Jonathon Haidt’s new book, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness. In her article titled, “Unplugged Childhood: Haidt’s Battle Cry Against Early Smartphone Use,” she writes:

“My son’s school has it figured out. They are cellphone free, and so — to get ahead of a culture where the average child receives their first phone at age 11 — they just plopped a landline in the lobby, and kids are welcome to use it at any time of day when they are not in class. Keeping in touch with my son during the school day, something with zero precedent in human history until a few years ago, anyways, is somehow still possible without giving him a smartphone.

I mention this because, as I was making my way through Jonathan Haidt’s new book, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness, I was surprised to learn that some of the biggest pushback was coming not from underage phone junkies, but from their parents, who want to be able to stay in touch throughout the day. But at what cost?

An entire generation whose brains are quite literally being rewired as a result of a phone-based, rather than play-based childhood, is Haidt’s answer.

Haidt documents, with extensive research from social scientists and psychologists, the way that free play, emphasis on free, is essential to healthy development for children. But the crackdown on free play and the proliferation of smartphones means that instead of being let loose into the yard, children today are let loose in what he calls “the Wild West of the virtual world, where threats to children abound.”

Read more of Ashley McGuire’s article here.