The Anxious Generation

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 wisdom and truth in some of the most the most difficult spaces - communities polarized by politics and religion, campuses battling culture wars, and now the perfect storm contributing to a public health emergency for teenagers today.

In The Anxious Generation, Haidt argues that for the cohort that hit puberty around 2009, their sense of self developed as the threads of three dramatic technological and social changes emerged: smartphones and life with the constant companionship of a screen, front-facing cameras and apps that thrive on selfie-culture, and social networks that reduce engagement and affirmation to likes and hearts alone.

This book shows how the ground for the current crisis in teen mental health was seeded by a decades-long shift from play-based childhoods to ones defined by over-supervision, structure, and fear: how adults began to overprotect children in the real world while unwittingly offering scant protection in the brutal online world. Haidt 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 - while offering concrete and scientifically based advice to parents, schools, universities, governments, and to teens themselves. Drawing on ancient wisdom and cutting-edge research, this eye-opening book is a life-raft and a powerful call-to-arms.


  • 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

About the author

Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist and the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business. He is the author of The Righteous Mind and co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind.
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more