The negative impact of social media and smartphones on children’s mental health


Tuesday, April 9, 2024 - 1:30pm to 2:30pm
Virtual Event

The proliferation of social media and smartphones in recent years has contributed to a mental health crisis among our children and teenagers and altered the way they interact with our world. Teenagers and younger children increasingly spend many hours a day scrolling through video shorts on platforms like TikTok, changing the very nature of their childhood and adolescent years. A new book by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt suggests that this could have devastating effects on their mental health and ability to cope with challenges in the real world. Despite these alarming trends, there are virtually no regulations on social media or smartphone use for children in the U.S. With depression rates, bullying, attention problems, anxiety, self-harm, and other mental health issues on the rise, it is time for policymakers to address this unprecedented crisis.


Center on Regulation and Markets (CRM) at Brookings will host a fireside chat with Jonathan Haidt from the New York University Stern School of Business to discuss the negative effects of social media and smartphones on our children and how to address this problem going forward. Professor Haidt is one of the world’s leading social psychologists and experts on the effect of social media and smartphones on children and teenagers. In a discussion with CRM Director Sanjay Patnaik, Haidt will diagnose the collective action problems we are facing with regard to social media and smartphones and discuss potential solutions that involve parents, teachers, schools, tech companies, and governments.

This event is a part of the CRM series on Reimagining Modern-day Markets and Regulations.


  • Jonathan Haidt, Social Psychologist, New York University Stern School of Business; Author, “The Anxious Generation”
  • Moderator: Sanjay Patnaik, Bernard L. Schwartz Chair in Economic Policy Development, Senior Fellow and Director, Center on Regulation and Markets, The Brookings Institution

Viewers can submit questions via e-mail to or on X/Twitter using #JonathanHaidt.