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

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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.

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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.

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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.  Read the rest of this entry »

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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
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Back to Basics: Raising Children in the Digital Age


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
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The Tragic Story of Child Video Game Addiction


The mother’s story of her video-game-addicted son in this CNN article and video clip (linked below) is both tragic and compelling. He is much like the children and teens I see in my clinical practice: capable, intelligent kids who are dragged away from an interest in family and school by the lure of gaming.

As described by Iowa State professor Dr. Douglas Gentile in this article and video clip, game addiction is increasingly common, estimated at 8.5% of young gamers. Unfortunately, the substantial risks of this problem are under recognized by parents who often aren’t aware of its impact before purchasing their kids game players, phones, and other devices. The consequences are life-changing for both addicted children and their families. Addicted kids frequently fail school, become depressed, have thoughts of hurting themselves, and can act out violently when parents attempt to set limits.

Treating game-addicted kids is a difficult process for both children and their families, as the addiction hijacks young brains and denies kids the insight to recognize their life is falling apart (“You’re the one with the problem mom!”). The behavior changes in addicted kids are also so profound that it leads many parents to say, “That’s not my child.”

I encourage you to learn more about video game addiction and to take actions to prevent your children or those you care for from developing the problem.

View the CNN article and video here.

Photo credit: luckat/Shutterstock
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