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  • Published: 3 April 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241694909
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $36.99

The Anxious Generation

How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness

An urgent and insightful investigation into the collapse in youth mental health, from the influential social psychologist and international bestselling author

Jonathan Haidt has spent his career speaking truth and wisdom in some of the most difficult spaces – communities polarized by politics and religion, campuses battling culture wars, and now the mental health emergency hitting teenagers today in many countries around the world.

In The Anxious Generation, Haidt shows how, between 2010 and 2015, childhood and adolescence got rewired. As teens traded in their flip phones for smartphones packed with social media apps, time online soared, including time spent comparing oneself to a vast pool of others. Time engaging face-to-face with friends and family plummeted, and so did mental health.

But this is not just a story about technology; this profound shift took place against a backdrop of declining childhood freedom and free-play, as parents over-supervised every aspect of their children’s lives offline, depriving them of the experiences they most need to become strong and self-governing adults.

In this book, Haidt makes a compelling argument that the loss of play-based childhood and its replacement with a phone-based childhood that is not suitable for human development is the source of increased mental distress among teenagers. The Anxious Generation delves into the latest psychological and biological research to show the four fundamental ways in which a phone-based childhood disrupts development – sleep deprivation, social deprivation, cognitive fragmentation and addiction. Haidt offers separate in-depth analyses of what has happened to girls, and what has happened to boys, offering practical advice for parents, schools, governments, and teens themselves. Drawing on ancient wisdom and cutting-edge research, this eye-opening book is a life raft and a powerful call-to-arms.

  • Published: 3 April 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241694909
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $36.99

About the author

Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt teaches psychology at the University of Virginia. This is his first book for the general reader.

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Praise for The Anxious Generation

Jonathan Haidt is a modern-day prophet, disguised as a psychologist. In this book, he’s back to warn us of the dangers of a phone-based childhood. He points the way forward to a brighter, stronger future for us all

Susan Cain, author of Quiet

An urgent and provocative read on why so many kids are not okay—and how to course correct. . . . even if you’re not ready to ban smartphones until high school, this book will challenge you to rethink how we nurture the potential in our kids and prepare them for the world

Adam Grant, author of Think Again

This is a crucial read for parents of children of elementary school age and beyond, who face the rapidly changing landscape of childhood. Haidt lays out problems but also solutions for making a better digital life with kids

Emily Oster, author of Expecting Better

Every single parent needs to stop what they are doing and read this book immediately. Jonathan Haidt is the most important psychologist in the world today, and this is the most important book on the topic that’s reshaping your child’s life right now

Johann Hari, author of Stolen Focus

If this important book rings enough alarms to make politicians impose a genuine social media ban on children, I believe most parents would be happy and most teenagers happier

The Times, Book of the Week

Compelling, readable – and incredibly chilling . . . a terrifying assessment of the digital carnage . . . remarkably persuasive . . . a clarion-call to parents everywhere

Lucy Denyer, Telegraph

Compelling thesis . . . interweaving distressing analysis alongside practical advice

Ed Smith, New Statesman

Deals seriously with counter-arguments and gaps in the evidence . . . all the suggestions sound sensible. Some even sound fun


Urgent and essential . . . it ought to become a foundational text for the growing movement to keep smartphones out of schools, and young children off social media

Sophie McBain, Guardian

A game-changer for society . . . The statistics that Haidt offers are jaw-dropping . . . although this book is about young people, it will resonate with many of us . . . I can’t recommend this book highly enough; everyone should read it

Irish Independent

I would be amazed if large parts of this book don’t ring painfully true . . . Whatever we do, it’s time to recognise that there’s been a massive shift in human behaviour

Mark Mason, Daily Mail

Forget horror; this is one of the most terrifying books I have read . . . some of the statistics Haidt quotes are truly shocking . . . a persuasive and rousing argument

Anna Davis, Evening Standard

Erudite, engaging, crusading

Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, New York Times Book Review

Lucid, memorable, galvanizing

Meghan Cox Gurdon, Wall Street Journal

Beautifully grounds his critique in Buddhist, Taoist and Christian thought traditions . . . his common-sense recommendations for actions...are excellent

Judith Warner, Washington Post

A book of devastating observations . . . his data is startling . . . robust scientific evidence for what we've all come to assume is true . . . it's the sheer scale of harm depicted here that should galvanise us

Simon Ings, Spectator