I sometimes ask myself, “What will our grandchildren think was totally insane that we currently accept as totally normal?” I imagine they will be shocked that we knowingly gave our kids the handheld devices that have become weapons of mass destruction to our attention, our sleep, our brain development, our democracy, and our ability to form healthy relationships with other humans.
We’ve gone from connecting online to performing online, from social networking to social media, which has rendered us less mentally healthy and more mentally fragile. Thoughtful regulation and policy are needed to protect users, but we also need to “prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child,” as the adage goes. Improving the road conditions are necessary, but we have control over how to become better drivers. Long before addictive technology came about—since the beginning of civilization—we have been training our minds through how we spend our time, whom we spend it with, and where we direct our attention. When we increase the consciousness of our attention, we increase our power to direct it.
- Go deeper: Read Why The Past 10 Years Of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid by Jonathan Haidt, and then go further with Richard Powers’s extraordinary book, Bewilderment.