If you have a tween or teen in your family, you’re well aware of the hold that smartphones have on their attention and their lives. Which is why we’re being urged to take them away, and let our kids just be kids.

Social psychologist and best selling author Jonathan Haidt believes that smartphones are the primary cause of the rise of anxiety and depression in adolescents.

It comes amid growing calls in Australia for kids under 14 to be banned from social media.

Jonathan says there are four ‘new norms’ we should implement to give our kids healthier childhoods.

The first is no smartphones before 14-years-old.

“You can give them a flip phone you send them out give them a phone so you can the flip phones you can text them they can text you call if they need to but you do not give a child the internet in their pocket where strangers can reach them and they can watch beheading videos,” he told the WSJ. “You don’t give that to a child to have with them all the time.”

The second norm is no social media until they turn 16.

“The kids say this themselves, 18-year-olds say this, they wish that this didn’t exist but they’re stuck they’re trapped on it. So how about we just delay it till 16? Just don’t let don’t let children go through puberty on social media that’s the really vulnerable time.”

The third norm would be phone-free schools.

“Imagine for those of you we went to school before the internet imagine that the school had a new rule you can bring in your television from home you can bring in your walkie talkies you can bring in your record player put it all on your desk will give you an outlet and you can do that during class while the teachers talking.

“This is complete insanity but that’s what we’ve done. That’s what we’ve done. Any school that lets kids have the phone and they’re pocket like in New York City public schools, and the rule is you can’t take out your phone during class ,which means that you have to hide it behind a book or under your desk if you want to text and watch video and watch p*** which the kids do.”

Finally, Jonathan says kids need to have more independence, free play and real-world responsibility.

“The fourth norm is far more independence, free play and responsibility in the real world just like everyone had until the 1990s. There can’t be an adult guarding them all the time until they go to college.”

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below. 

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  • I’ve noticed there’s a lot more depression, suicide and peer pressure now than there was when my boys were growing up. People say a lot more hurtful things online because they don’t have to face that person when they say it. There should be a way to block mobile reception when the kids are at school whether in class or in the school yard.


  • It’s something I worry very much about. I rarely let my 6 year old twins have ipad time currently and find if I do, the behaviour is terrible. I want my children to grow up without the worry of external influences that social media and these devices bring into our home from the outside world and want to protect them from this as long as I can. I’m not sure if this is the right approach or not, but I know they are happier when they don’t have these devices, and encourage them to play and explore outside in our backyard instead of spending hours on these devices.


  • Our society is heading down the path if self destructive as too many important old fashioned values have been taken away. Giving kids rights at a young age is detrimental.


  • I really feel scared when I hear and watch such news and articles. There r two sides to this, let’s not forget the peer pressure. It’s for real, our kids even if they want to understand sometimes are helpless to be in the school forget the group. Will cross the bridge when the time comes as of now my kids are quite young.


  • I fully agree with this statement from the psychologist but doubt it will happen no matter how many laws are out into place. Kids will do anything to get onto the phone including lying by putting their age up or whatever else they feel they HAVE to do to be part of this ‘social scene’.
    It is a very well-known fact that you cannot put the genie back into the bottle, and society is now trying to lock the stable door after the horse has bolted.

    • Exactly, totally agree with you !


  • My son is now 23 and I hate what phones and devices and social media has done to our kids. It has been bad enough for our family and I don’t envy the generation now. I don’t know how you fix it. I know full well how smart kids are at hiding, lying, manipulating, sneaking at home and school. So I don’t know how we wrestle things back.


  • I definitely agree with this article. It’s ridiculous how young parents are allowing their kids to have phones! My daughter has one, but only because she is riding her bike home from school (she is 11 and in grade 6). It’s a special kids phone that is made by Opel. It is still a smart phone, but we have all the control – no camera, we have to approve all apps she wants to put on it, no messaging capability, only Messenger Kids and she doesn’t have a social media account. She has internet disabled.


  • 100% agree with all of this!


  • Have to agree with this one they dont need the negativity


  • I absolutely agree, but there is a valid argument about not cutting them off from technology vital to modern life.


  • With the amount of bullying and suicides happening in school aged children. I think they should be 18+. Its so easy for people to just snap photos or videos and share for the whole world to see.
    It’s unfortunate that school aged children feel stuck as they have to see these bullies at school


  • It’s brilliant that mobiles aren’t allowed in Victorian schools. It makes so much sense.


  • Unfortunately, it is not going to happen. It’s a way of life now for kids and adults.

    • Reality is that devices have been introduced at home and at school at an early age and some of our kids are smarter than we are with their devices. For example my third was able to get onto websites that were blocked at school during school hours…


  • I agree with these social media rules for children, but firstly I think it’s important to build a good and strong relationship with your children where they can come to you with any issues and especially seek and take on parental advice.


  • Tweens and teens will always find a way work social media.
    How many times have we heard someone was banned only for their parents to find out they have a backup phone!


  • Pretty sure most schools are phone free here anyway? But I am trying to hold my kids off social media as long as I can.

    • Yes I think so, nowadays most school have a no-phone policy


  • I don’t think taking it away is the best move, I think restricting its use and adding parental controls is properly more affective.


  • Good luck with that! Where there’s a will there’s a way and teens have iron strong wills


  • With my thirs we had no phone, blocked social media etc but she got her way around it. She would go to libraries to access social media on the computers there,. she would hack the computer at home, she stole iPad’s from school, she would be in electronics stores and she would borrow phones from her friends.
    She showed very unsafe online behaviour. For example at age 11 she used my husbands credit card details and signed up for an adulkt dating website 3x before we realised what happened

    • She also hacked our computer in the night, watching rough porn at the age 11


  • Children and adults would all benefit from less phone and screen time and have a good balance between all activities and ‘things’ in life.

    • I agree. Screen time should be treated like any other activity and moderated.

      • Absolutely; moderation is essential and adults need to be good role models.


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