Jonathan Haidt On How to Solve the Teen Mental Health Crisis

April 11, 2024

Suicides. Self-harm. Depression and anxiety. The toll of a social media-addicted, phone-based childhood has never been more stark. It can be easy for teens, parents, and schools to feel like they’re trapped by it all. But in this conversation with Tristan Harris, author and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt makes the case that the conditions that led to today’s teenage mental health crisis can be turned around – with specific, achievable actions we all can take starting today.

This episode was recorded live at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club.  

Correction: Tristan mentions that 40 Attorneys General have filed a lawsuit against Meta for allegedly fostering addiction among children and teens through their products. However, the actual number is 42 Attorneys General who are taking legal action against Meta.

Clarification: Jonathan refers to the Wait Until 8th pledge. By signing the pledge, a parent promises not to give their child a smartphone until at least the end of 8th grade. The pledge becomes active once at least ten other families from their child’s grade pledge the same.


Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. 

Haidt’s research examines the intuitive foundations of morality, and how morality varies across cultural and political divisions. Haidt is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis (2006) and of the New York Times bestsellers The Righteous Mind (2012) and The Coddling of the American Mind (2018, with Greg Lukianoff). He has given four TED talks. In 2019 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Since 2018 he has been studying the contributions of social media to the decline of teen mental health and the rise of political dysfunction. His new book is The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness.

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