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Jonathan Haidt Insights

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Read Time: 2 minutes

Let Grow wouldn’t exist without co-founder Jonathan Haidt (pronounced “height”). Most recently he is author of the bestselling book, “The Anxious Generation.” In it, Jon gives four recommendations for collective action to create a happier, healthier childhood. Three are about phones. But #4 is this:

Give kids back more independence, responsibility and free play in THE REAL WORLD.

“If parents don’t replace screen time with real world experiences involving friends and independent activity, banning phones will feel like deprivation, not opening up a world of experiences.” — Jonathan Haidt

The book recommends schools assign  The Let Grow Experience” whereby kids get the homework assignment, “Go home and do something new, on your own, WITH your parents’ permission but WITHOUT your parents. And it also urges schools to start a Let Grow Play Club, staying open before or after school for mixed age play and socializing in a no-phone-zone. All Let Grow’s materials are free! Schools can access them here. And “home versions” for families are here.

Before this blockbuster book, Jon and Greg Lukianoff wrote ANOTHER blockbuster: The Coddling of the American Mind. It castigates our culture’s current practice of teaching young people the three great untruths:

*Always trust your feelings

*The world is divided into good and bad people

*And what doesn’t kill you makes you…weaker

It is that last idea — that kids are being protected from all the risk and discomfort that engender bravery and resilience — that he and Let Grow co-founder Lenore Skenazy unpack in their Reason Magazine article, The Fragile Generation.

Jonathan has long been concerned about “safetyism.” That’s the practice of treating everything kids do/see/try on their own as physically, emotionally, or educationally dangerous. (They could get hurt! They could fall behind!). But instead of helping kids, the increase in overprotection and intervention is making kids anxious and depressed. His antidote is to give kids more unstructured, unsupervised free time and free play — and no social media till the teen years.

Jonathan’s body of work seems to grow exponentially, even as he testifies to Congress, appears on TV, lectures around the world, and sits down at his computer to write two books simultaneously. (Who does that? While being a full time NYU professor — and dad of two?)

For more of his work outside Let Grow, visit his Substack, his website, and/or his Twitter feed, which has over 400,000 followers. But don’t spend too much time there! It’s social media!