Dr. Freed speaks at the Youth4Youth Summit

I was quite moved in speaking with a remarkable group of parents who lost their kids, together with child advocates, at the Youth4Youth Summit put together by LookUp and The Social Dilemma.

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Dr. Freed in NY Times on Blaming Tech Users for Their Obsessions

Nellie Bowles’ New York Times‘ article reveals how those who have hooked us on tech are now claiming it’s really our problem, with no real mention of its impact on children. In the article, I describe how this attempt to flip is similar to cigarette industry tactics. Read the New York Times article

Photo: Andrew Leu on Unsplash

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Dr. Freed Interviewed in New York Times on 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
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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
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Psychologists’ Role in Hooking Kids on Tech

Multiple national news outlets brought attention to the effort Dr. Meghan Owenz and myself are 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.

Photo: Donald lain Smith/Blend Images/Getty Images
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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. 

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