Screen time for toddlers
Disgust vs. technology
Reading and test scores have fallen off a cliff over the past decade, and researchers increasingly suspect smartphones are to blame. Jonathan Haidt at New York University and others have been going through the data, testing different explanations that aren’t “it’s the phones,” and none of the alternative hypotheses seem to hold up. Smartphones are likely a primary cause of the many ills of teenagers, which range from rising depression to declining academic performance.
As Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham pointed out on X, the architects of the smartphone revolution, like Steve Jobs, would likely be sad to hear this.
Was it all worth it?
It’s easy to forget what a massive change smartphones were. In the mid aughts, when people en masse first started looking at their smartphones in public, I remember experiencing a strong disgust response. It’s impossible to recall its full vividness now, after I’ve become so used to everyone doing it. But at the time the activity seemed zombifying, a breach of the social contract that we should all be aware of each other, aware of the physical world. Now a bus filled with strangers staring at the portals of their screens is considered 100% normal and I don’t even notice it.
So which was correct? My initial reaction of disgust, or its later replacement with acceptance at the change? The answer to this question may determine how the 21st century ends. But what’s the answer?