Blog

A Troubling New Digital Divide

A troubling new digital divide is emerging: Children in more affluent areas are spending much less time on screens and phones than kids in less advantaged communities. New York Times’ writer Nellie Bowles interviewed me for her powerful article: “The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected.” Families that have access to more resources are choosing to decrease the amount of time kids spend on screens and phones because of increased recognition of risks to kids’ emotional well-being and academic success. Lower-income communities need to be provided access to the same resources or we risk increases in already troubling income and racial achievement disparities.

Photo: Twin Design/Shutterstock
Share this post:

Why do kids struggle to look up from devices? The answer is persuasive design.

Dr. Meghan Owenz and I have written a letter to the American Psychological Association (APA) that has brought national attention to the issue of persuasive design, which is the use of behavioral psychology to pull users onto devices and keep them there for as long as possible. The letter, organized by the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, raises concerns that psychologists–who are ethically bound to do no harm–are using their power to manipulate behavior to pull kids onto video games, social media, and smartphones. This contributes to children overusing screens and phones for entertainment (the average teen now spends 6 hours, 40 minutes with playtime screens each day) and this is putting kids’ emotional health and academic success at risk. Over 200 psychologists–including leaders in the field such as Drs. Jean Twenge, Sherry Turkle, and Mary Pipher–have signed the letter.

We are now asking you to join the effort calling on the APA to protect children from harmful persuasive design practices. Dr. Owenz (founder of Screen-free Parenting) and I have just written this Psychology Today article asking for parents, educators, health care providers, and concerned citizens to add their voice calling on the APA to address persuasive design. At the end of the article, you will see a link to quickly add your voice to this important cause. By working together, we will encourage the profession of psychology to be a powerful force that advances, not detracts from, children’s health and well-being.

A big thank you to Dr. Victoria Dunckley, author of the book Reset Your Child’s Brain, for hosting the article on Psychology Today.

Photo: wavebreakmedia/shutterstock
Share this post:

Psychologists’ Role in Hooking Kids on Tech

Multiple national news outlets brought attention to the effort I am undertaking with leading psychologists and the Children’s Screen Time Action Network to ask that psychologists not be involved in the development of video games and social media products that hook kids. We have presented a letter written by myself and Dr. Meghan Owenz to the American Psychological Association asking that action be taken to protect kids, which has been signed by many renowned authorities. Links to media coverage in the Washington Post, Vox, AP, and NPR (including audible podcast in which I was interviewed) are below:

Will censuring colleagues who work in tech save kids from screen addiction? These psychologists think so, in the Washington Post

Tech companies use “persuasive design” to get us hooked. Psychologists say it’s unethical, on Vox

Advocates condemn psych techniques used to keep kids online, in the AP

Are psychological techniques keeping kids online? And if so, are psychologists to blame, on NPR podcast

Share this post:

The Tech Industry’s War on Kids

My article, “The Tech Industry’s War on Kids,” reveals a dark secret: psychology—a discipline that we associate with healing—is now used as a weapon against children.

Unbeknownst to but a few, tech makers use powerful psychological manipulation tools to pull kids away from the real world to instead live their lives on phones, social media, and video games. The results are tragic for this generation of children and teens.

I’m hopeful that this commentary will initiate important changes to help our kids. Please consider sharing it with your networks.

Photo: Donald lain Smith/Blend Images/Getty Images
Share this post:

Dr. Richard Freed, author of “Wired Child,” on Fox Mornings on 2

Dr. Freed, author of Wired Child, on Fox Mornings on 2 talking about the choice to get kids smartphones and other devices for the holidays. We are clearly entering a different era, as each of the three anchors (parents themselves) expressed concern about the impact of digital devices on this generation.

Share this post:

How Schools Are Promoting Wait Until 8th

I recently had the pleasure of speaking in Danville, CA to a great group of parents at Green Valley Elementary. Concerned about the recent research indicating the negative impact of smartphones on kids, the talk’s organizers had taken the Wait Until 8th pledge and encouraged other parents to join in.

The pledge has parents agree not to get their kids smartphones at least until 8th grade. And showing how to build community in the modern age, the pledge doesn’t become active until 10 parents from a child’s grade and school have also taken the pledge. 

Photo: Highwaystarz-Photography/istock Read the rest of this entry »
Share this post:

Why Smartphone Dependence Is Ravaging a Generation

It’s increasingly impossible to deny the tremendous costs of our kids’ wired lives. Yet, we must understand why such lives put our kids at risk if we are to provide them positive alternatives. In this Huffington Post article, I illustrate how one particular factor–hiding in plain sight–is taking the greatest toll on kids. I also highlight concrete steps to make a better life for your child.
Read the Huffington Post article here.

Share this post:

Game Quitters Podcast with Richard Freed

Cam Adair is the founder of Game Quitters, a powerful resource for helping parents and kids understand and lessen the impact of video game overuse and addiction. His knowledge of tech and gaming and how it affects children and families are clearly apparent during our talk. I hope you enjoy.

Listen to the podcast here.

Photo: Andris Tkacenko/Shutterstock     
Share this post:

An Appeal to Bill and Melinda Gates for Help in Raising Healthy Children

Bill Gates recently declared that he and his wife, Melinda, provide remarkably strong phone limits for their own children–much like Steve Jobs provided firm tech rules for his kids. In the Huffington Post, I appeal to Bill and Melinda to use their incredible influence to help America’s parents set screen and phone limits. That’s because Microsoft and other tech companies use powerful strategies to thwart good parents’ efforts to raise healthy kids. 
Read the Huffington Post article here.

 

Share this post:

The Obamas’ Low-Tech Parenting

Obama in Pic Format-2

What do the Obamas know about raising kids in a digital age that most American parents don’t? In this Huffington Post article, I highlight the low-tech parenting the President and First Lady have provided their daughters. I also reveal how Malia and Sasha’s top-notch school makes life much easier for parents by encouraging all families in its community to set strong tech limits at home.

Photo credit: Whitehouse.gov
Share this post:

Childhood is Broken in the Digital Age… Let’s Fix It

Are we beginning to wake up to the tragic consequences of kids living their lives on devices at the expense of engaging with family, school, and other needed developmental experiences? I believe we are, and I write about it in this Huffington Post article

Photo credit: istockphoto/Highwaystarz-Photography
Share this post:

Back to Basics: Raising Children in the Digital Age

shutterstock_160082876-FatherSon

Parenting today is as confusing as ever. Remarkably, what matters most to kids are factors that some consider old fashioned. In this Huffington Post article, I describe why it’s time to get back to the basics of raising kids.

Read the article here.

Photo credit: Daxiao Productions/Shutterstock
Share this post: