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Samizdata quote of the day – the collapse of adolescent mental health

“The sudden switch from play-based childhood to phone-based childhood is—we believe—the leading candidate for being the major cause of the international collapse of adolescent mental health.”

Zach Rausch & Jon Haidt.

26 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – the collapse of adolescent mental health

  • jb

    This is 100% correct. I was, in the past, skeptical of the autism phenomenon, believing it to be another example of turning every human failing into a medical diagnosis. Teaching children between the ages of 3 – 7 quickly disabused me of this notion. The symptoms, behaviors and actions were all the same across completely different kids and exhibited in children as young as 2 years old. These are children who (for the most part) I was able to successfully teach how to speak, read and write English (I taught, one-on-one, Chinese kids in Hong Kong), and as they progressed they seemed to naturally learn how to control their autism during lessons. I don’t remember encountering a kid exhibiting any of these behaviors when I was in school, and neither does my wife nor any of our friends (I’m in my 50s).

    The one common element that I noticed is that the parents of these children would have their heads glued to their phones, and the moment I handed off their children to them they would immediately hand the phone over to those children. Is this the cause? Don’t know. That same statement could be made for almost every one of the parents but not all of their kids were autistic. If I had to guess, though, I think that some innate proclivity toward autisim in a percentage of children is triggered into effect when they are (i) placed in front of YouTube for hours to calm them or teach them their ABCs, (ii) denied interaction with a parent who spends more time with their eyes pointing to the phone then their own child’s eyes and (iii) maybe chemicals and processed food?

    Truly sad.

  • jb

    autism – not autisim (damn my fingers)

  • Kirk

    And, the switch from work-based childhood has had a great deal to do with the rather massive change to our culture.

    Prolonged painful adolescence isn’t something we wisely inflicted on the majority of our youth. I don’t think it was ever a “good idea”, and the raw fact of what’s happened with “youth culture” since the advent of child labor laws and the like should have come as a clue.

    We largely created the entire concept of adolescence from the whole cloth in the late 19th Century. The various “child labor” movements that took children off the factory floor and then put them into state-run schools was classically held to be a grand idea, but I have my doubts. I think that the fact that most of the rural kids I know who grew up on farms, doing legitimate work next to their families from an early age are rather better grounded and far more rounded-off than their urban peers tells us an awful lot.

    Schooling for all too many kids is akin to prison; they’re held back, out of the world, forced to associate with some really dicey characters (their peers…) and instead of being socialized into the adult world, they’re socialized by and into this artificial half-real world of consumerism and parental support. Ya wonder why people don’t have kids? They cost too damn much and contribute little to the economic bottom line. Why bother? The state has mandated a bunch of things that slough the costs off onto the families, and then wonders why the birth rates are dropping to below replacement levels…

    And, the rationale for a lot of it is entirely and fundamentally erroneous. I remain unsure that there is benefit to mass schooling the way we do it; sure, some kids benefit, but an awful lot do not.

    I think, heretically enough, that the same fundamental mistake was made with mass schooling that we saw made with the idea that “whole language” was a better way to teach reading; they took what they observed in the exceptional part of the population and then tried applying it to everyone. Sure, some kids do read that way, but they got that proficient through working up through phonics to the point where they recognized whole words, rather than sounding them out. Likewise, there are some kids who benefit from all that extended schooling, but there are a lot more who simply do not.

    Frankly, I think that a lot of the “youth mental health crisis” can be laid at the door of that extended period spent in your teenage years where you’re stuck waiting for your life to begin, because it’s so damn rigid and lockstep until you’re out the door at 18 and stuck in the school system, no matter how boring you might find it, or how unsuited you might be for the “Life Educational”.

    The phones are just an extension of that problem. Get the kids out of the schools, into real life, let them face the realities of things, and then they won’t have all that damn extra time to go nuts over their social media.

    I happen to think that the way we’re raising kids these days has a hell of a lot more to do with the problem than the things they have. Parents used to be integral parts of socialization and, duh… Parenting. Kids didn’t spend most of their waking lives around other kids, who have no more idea how the world works than howler monkeys, and the adults were the major sources of guidance to the kids, one-on-one, in the actual work-day world. Today? LOL… It’s all rarefied and remote educators with no time for individuals, the parents have sloughed off their responsibilities, and the kids are out there raising themselves in real-life “Lord of the Flies” situations in every one of our schools. The stories I hear from my nephews and niece only convince me that things have gotten exponentially worse since I was a kid myself, and I thought high school was a horror-show waste of time then…

    It ain’t just the phones, although they don’t help. It’s the phones plus all the other idiotic changes we made to things.

    Longer I live, the more I think that the whole “Let’s get out of these trees and go walkabout down there on the savannah…” thing was probably a really, really bad idea.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    jb: just a note to say that I really appreciated your sharing of your experience.

    This sort of issue is where, in my view, so many of today’s problems start.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Kirk: I think that the fact that most of the rural kids I know who grew up on farms, doing legitimate work next to their families from an early age are rather better grounded and far more rounded-off than their urban peers tells us an awful lot.

    I was raised on a Suffolk farm. By the age of 14 I was allowed to drive farm machinery, shown how to shoot, help my Dad weld metal parts, run a grain-store, supervise machinery, and do chores around the farm. Apart from anything else, it also taught me the value of having to get out of bed at the crack of dawn, to do sheer hard work, and see something happen from it: seeing crops grow and be harvested, watch animals be bred and cared for, etc. It left a mark on me, absolutely, and I am very lucky. As I got a bit older, during my college vacations, I helped run the farm even more, to the point where my Dad and his brother left me and my kid brother to run it a bit.

    I am now in a white collar job, and love it, but I think my time working on a farm helped make me what I am today. Also, most of my schoolmates delivered newspapers, and did odd jobs around the neighbourhood to earn pocket money, save up to buy a bike or whatever.

  • Kirk

    There’s an old aphorism that runs “idle hands are the devil’s playthings…”, and that couldn’t be more true than what we’re seeing with today’s kids and young adults.

    Artificially prolonged adolescence is a net “bad” thing for society, I fear. The kids can’t get honest work, are forced to stay in schools that are abysmal and which are breeding-grounds for social dysfunction.

    Think back on it: How many of the high-and-mighty aristocracy of your high school actually made something of themselves? How many of them “peaked” in high school, and haven’t ever done anything other than look back on those glory days of their youth?

    Glory days? High school? The final four years of your grammar school life, those were the peak? WTF? Just… WTF?

    The popular culture has trivialized life itself, focusing on all these peripheral events as though they really had meaning. I find it all of a piece with the incessant obsession with sex and sexuality… What sane person wraps their identity around their genitals? Regardless of orientation, the popular culture has this crap all out of proportion to the things of real import, like work, family, kids. You’re told “Oh, you have to be a man!! Lots of lovers! You’re not a real man, unless you have lots of sex…”, and then when you hit about sixty, you realize that all of that was basically BS, you really should have been focusing on your family and work. Same for women; it’s all “sexually attractive” all the time, and the raw fact is, that crap goes by the wayside when you hit your fifties. If you’ve spent a life of dissolution and license, you’re gonna be hating the final parts of it where you’re no longer “sexy and desirable”.

    It ain’t just the LGBTWTFBBQ types that are way too obsessed with sex… In the end, sex serves one purpose in society, and that’s to ensure the next generation comes along. The things we’ve done with that? Yikes. And, you wonder why so many people are on psychotropics? Under therapy?

    We’ve made life entirely too damn complicated, too tightly constrained. Can someone tell me why the hell you want to force some kid who has no interest in academics into a straight-jacket of 12 years of “education” pumped down their throat, with no productive purpose at the end of it all, other than to check a block and say “Yeah, we educated the #(*# out of that boy!”

    I have had grave doubts about the track our civilization is on for most of my life, and I ain’t seeing anything of late to change my mind in that regard.

  • Fraser Orr

    It seems the title is overstating a little. If phone use is the cause of this problem behavior then you’d expect it to be worldwide which it isn’t. They do discuss this in the paper and some of their points make sense, but it is not at all clear that correlation here implies causality. I can think of at least six things that would send anxiety skyrocketing that have nothing directly to do with phones: global warming, terrorism, massive concerns about racism, sexism and intersectionality in general, Covid, widely publicised school shootings and anxiety about the trans issue.

    These things are all deliberately pushed by the government and the press to get government power and money and the press to sell more papers. And for sure, they are obvious causes of the problems. Many of them only really apply in the West. They seem to me to be better explainers of the data.

    Not saying it isn’t a problem (but let’s also remember that there are VAST benefits from being connected all the time). But I think the headline is a bit misleading.

    One of my kids’ school is having a “shelter in place” lockdown practice today. We never had those when I was a kid.

  • jgh

    Is work experience still a thing? In the 1980s I spent three school summers doing hardware & software development in the local hospital. Getting up at sparrow-fart, making my way into work, arranging bus fare, money for lunch, getting home again, working to a specification, testing, refining, explaining concepts and implementations to colleagues.

  • Kirk

    The school shooting thing is another issue that just makes me wonder about people in general. Who thought that it would be a good idea to teach kids to hunker down, hide, and “shelter in place”? Are people sheep?

    The thing that always struck me as bizarre was like with the Virginia Tech thing… Crazy Korean dude is going through the building, shooting people. They basically do nothing in terms of self-defense. At. All. Just passively wait for him to come and shoot them… Even the Holocaust-survivor professor that “held the door” while his students escaped was thinking like a sheep, there…

    Proper action? Let me tell you what… Had some dimwitted officer ever told me to take my guys, fully-armed and equipped, into a hostile building the way that idiot with a pistol was doing, I’d have told him to feck right the hell off, not only because that would have been a damn war crime, but because that’s a recipe to lose soldiers…

    Even with an assault rifle and frags, I ain’t going into any building by myself, against “unarmed” anything. There are too many potential ambush points, too many corners to turn, too many things that can be turned against you.

    I have a friend who attended Virginia Tech. He was in some of those classrooms that got shot up, as an undergrad. What he told me was that there were dozens of potential improvised weapons in every one of those classrooms, and if you were to wander down the hallways to one of the always-open janitorial closets, you’d find a bunch of fun stuff like toilet-bowl cleaner. The really strong alkali stuff that burns the crap out of your eyes…

    What he and I both thought should have happened is that some strongarm type students should have broken off some table legs, the nice, heavy metal ones, and then waited on either side of the door for our shooter to come in. He enters room, whack-whack, he likely ain’t shooting anyone, because he’s going to be too busy dealing with a stove-in skull. Same with everything else… There were, per my informant, fire hoses and so forth on every floor. Why not wait with fire hose primed, and use that on idiot-with-gun? Get cleaning supplies from janitor closet, use as improvised chemical weapons… Even if you can’t get a table leg broken off, a face-full of toilet bowl cleaner ain’t going to leave you in any shape to be shooting people. At least, not accurately… And, once idiot-with-gun is dealing with that cleaner-in-the-face, he’s easy prey for being taken down by a mob of even second-graders.

    The real problem with all these situations is the mindsets of the victims. Which we are teaching them with all this “Shelter-in-place” BS.

    My solution? School shooter? Tell the kids it’s free-game, and they get to go a-hunting for him, and however they do it, he’s theirs until the cops come to take him away. Care to imagine what it’d be like to die at the hands of a swarm of six-year-olds? Those little bastards are capable of some severely vicious stuff, and you would likely look like a piranha feeding frenzy victim when it was all over.

    Look at the difference in what happened in Israel: Good victims? They died. The ones who were sufficiently paranoid and alert, who armed themselves and then went hunting terrorists? Mmmmm? See how that works…?

    You’re never safe, anywhere. You should be looking around for things to use as weapons, ways to escape, and be alert to threats. There really is no such thing as a “dangerous weapon”; there are only dangerous minds, and so long as yours is dangerous, you’re a much harder target. Much, much harder…

    Plainly put, don’t be a sheep. Don’t be a sheepdog, either, because the sheep will constantly come bleating, expecting you to sacrifice yourself. Be a wolf, instead. They come for you? Don’t be afraid; be joyful, for that means someone is giving you the opportunity to legitimately hunt and kill them for their transgressions. You should welcome assaults, thank the aggressor for the chance to feel alive in the fight.

    If nothing else, that’s gonna short-circuit the entire mindset such animals possess. Been there, done that, and it works. Humans or animals, no predator responds very well to having the script turned on them, making them the hunted.

  • Kirk

    Many excellent points in this Kurt Schlichter piece:


    Bunch of good points, here. The crazy cat ladies of the world have taken over much of the system, and their irrational fantasies about how things work have served to deracinate much of the population from the mode of living that actually, y’know… Works.

    Ya want to stop bullying in schools? Simple way to do that: Empower the victims to beat the ever-loving snot out of said bullies. That happens a few times, and the bullies either learn not to bully, or they wind up dead. Either way, learning has occurred. Banning “fighting” in school and then expelling the victims for defending themselves? That’s how you get more and more bullying, and less civilization.

    Think about the conditioning you’re doing in school, the demonstrated lessons you are teaching. This isn’t at all the way things work, what we are doing right now. It’s mostly contra-survival, and we’re going to find that out in the near- and medium-term, as all these trend lines converge and things get spicy.

    Better get in shape for your elder years; it’s gonna look a lot less like an episode of “Last of the Summer Wine” and a lot more like Mad Max… You want to live? Better get in touch with your inner asshole, the one that wants to survive. The generations of barbarians that the wokesters have bred up for us all will be coming for you…

  • bobby b

    Something I never encountered in my first fifty or so years is the new phenomena of kids – 10 to 20 years old – completely withdrawing from in-person social contact, into their rooms and basements, with their parents looking on in dismay.

    I know of at least six kids like this now. They live on-line. They seldom go out, they have no in-person friends, and they feel no pressure to change. (Yeah, I blame the parents for that part.) One of my nephews stopped going to school at age 12. He’s 21 now. Never went back. (His parents tried everything short of beatings. I recommended they try those too, but they just couldn’t.)

    In Japan, this has become an epidemic, affecting over 2 million kids. They call it hikikomori.

    “A form of severe social withdrawal, called hikikomori, has been frequently described in Japan and is characterized by adolescents and young adults who become recluses in their parents’ homes, unable to work or go to school for months or years.” (NIH)

    Interesting to read about, but it’s something I never ran into earlier in life. I couldn’t imagine telling my parents I’m never leaving my room, I’m not getting a job, just keep my phone line working, please. I’d have been (first) laughed at and (second) driven outside.

    But it’s widespread, and growing – as are most adolescent mental illnesses. We have a new term – neurodivergent – that now describes almost 50% of female adolescents, and a smaller portion of males.

    Life was simpler back when we lacked the leisure time to explore and celebrate our own mental disturbances, and instead had to go to work. First-world problems, I guess.

  • Snorri Godhi


    (iii) maybe chemicals and processed food?

    I take that for granted, until proven wrong.

    There is experimental (not correlational/epidemiological) evidence that decreasing the ratio of omega-6 (from seed oils) to omega-3 (from seafood) fatty acids, improves mental health, decreases suicidal thoughts and tendency to self-harm, and decreases propensity to violence.
    (The last item makes one wonder about prison food.)

    There is also experimental evidence that low-carb diets decrease symptoms of autism, and other mental illnesses.

    Those are short-term studies, of course. It seems to me that a lifetime of ingesting seed oils and high-carb food will do much more damage. As you might have figured out, i believe that we are all damaged as a result — to varying extents, depending on genetic propensity, length of exposure, etc.

    I am quite willing to accept that smartphones triggered an epidemic of mental illness; but they fell on fertile ground, so to speak.

  • Snorri Godhi


    There is experimental (not correlational/epidemiological) evidence that decreasing the ratio of omega-6 (from seed oils) to omega-3 (from seafood) fatty acids […] decreases propensity to violence.

    There is ALSO epidemiological evidence for that.

  • Kirk

    There’s a theory out there that humans are ill-adapted to prosperity and plenty. No adversity? We’ll create some…

    I cannot for the life of me remember who or where I ran into that idea… A quick web-search turns up little or nothing under what I thought I remembered it being under, which was “Prosperity Theory”. The author of the piece made a really good case for what they were saying, which was basically that if a human being doesn’t have to strive, to struggle… They self-destruct.

    I honestly think that’s a lot of the problem. These kids with all these “issues” have never, ever had to struggle for anything at all. They get everything handed to them; they don’t have to earn it, at all. I watched that syndrome play out within my own family, and within myself. The gifts I was given? Were somewhat appreciated and valued, but the things I had to buy with money of my own, that I earned? Those were the things I truly valued and took care of. Which is hypocritical as hell, but looking back on it? That’s what I did. Same-same with my younger brothers and nephews and niece. You earn it? You take care of it; you’re given it? You don’t give a rip about it.

    Adversity makes you grow. It forces you to mature; no adversity, and you’re almost always a “weak sister”, unable to cope with things when it all goes bad.

    I used to be able to gauge pretty well with the soldiers I was given, just interviewing them about their backgrounds when they first came under my authority. Find a young man who’d never really struggled for anything? That guy had to be carefully watched and brought along, because he was very likely a damn quitter when things got harsh. The guys you talked to who were the products of some really horrendous backstories? Rarely failed me, in the clinch of things.

    Not that the guys with easy lives couldn’t be tough; they just had to be watched, brought along, and encouraged to push though pain. I once did a road march at the end of a 72-hour training exercise, and at the end of it, I had like three guys left out of nine. Some of the six fall-outs were due to legit injuries that our medics forced onto the trucks, but a couple were just “I can’t go on…” types that were perfectly able to do what needed doing, physically. The minds, though…? Those were the issue. The four of us who finished that damn death-march were delirious by the end of it, utterly spent and, I found out later, one of my three “completers” had actually been marching on a broken leg. We were all running on mental and physical fumes, but we did it. Notably, all four of us were from relatively unfortunate social backgrounds with what amounted to abusive family situations and poverty generously heaped on. The guys who fell out? All of them were suburban proto-yuppies from really nice homes…

    I dunno that that really means anything, but the quitters had all had pretty nice, easy lives up until hitting the Army. Couple of them remained quitters, and a couple did not; one went on to the SF “Q” course, eventually, and the other wound up as an officer.

    The interesting thing about all of that is that you have all these different points that people have for “breaking under adversity”. Some guys, you virtually have to kill them a couple of times to get them to break; others? First time it hurts, they quit. I still don’t know how to predict which will be which, but the ones who’ve got a healthy leavening of prior adversity seem to be way more resilient.

  • bobby b

    “There’s a theory out there that humans are ill-adapted to prosperity and plenty.”

    I’d be receptive to such a theory. If you give humans too much free time, they spend it introspectively, discovering and identifying and labeling all the ways they feel like they’re victims, or sufferers, or misunderstood.

    Lots of us oldsters grew up in a time when we all played sports and played outside with neighbors and got jobs as soon as possible, and we never had much time to sit around and bemoan the state of our own heads. We’re probably just as warped as the new generations, but we never had much time to care that we were or to identify and label our insecurities, and so we came out as functioning people. Ignorance may well be bliss.

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby I tend to agree with you, but to play devil’s advocate I’d ask: is this bad? Or is it just part of human evolution. A few hundred years ago the idea that we spent most of our time indoors, or that the whole family didn’t sleep in the same room, or that our social circle went beyond the twenty people who lived in our village would have been odd.

    Now, of course, if a 45 year old is living in mom’s basement and doesn’t have a job, that is a whole different thing — but if someone chooses to live their life online, earning money there, shopping there, socializing there, learning and educating themselves there… is that intrinsically bad, or just a life choice? I’m not sure how you get laid in that scenario, which, irrespective of human evolution seems a necessary thing. Not a lifestyle I would chose, but I wouldn’t choose to be a lawyer either (stuck in the library with only books for friends… sounds a depressing lifestyle 😀)

    You point about too much time for introspection leading to bad outcomes is well taken, however, you can certainly be busy, busy, busy online. That is a LOT of Reddit posts to reply to….

    Oh, it also made me think of another possible cause of these problems — the decline of religion — which gives people a lot of meaning, purpose and connectivity. So perhaps that is another cause that has little to do with cell phones. (Says me, the atheist.)

    Just a thought.

  • Kirk

    I don’t think it’s so much the “decline of religion” as it might be the “rise of nutty new-age pseudo-spirituality”. The climate sciencism is a symptom of all that; kids are being driven nuts by this millenarian “end of the world” BS, and the reality is that the climate has always been changing, and always will be. It’s a dynamic process we don’t fully understand, and the idea that anthropogenic CO2 has played a role in it to the extent they claim is pretty… Nuts.

    You don’t have a religious center in your life, you’ll fill it with something. At least, in my observation; I’m thinking of a couple of Jack Mormons I know who “left the Church” in a huff, and who’ve now taken to things like healing crystals. It ain’t like they were seeking rationality in their lives so much as it was they got pissed at the things the Church of Latter-Day Saints was demanding of them. It’s a little nuts; they dropped the Golden Plate thing for a smorgasbord of things that I find humorously appalling, like Ramtha and all that jazz. Former fervent Mormons morphing over into fervent New-Age nutters…

    Common denominator, there? The necessity for that “irrational spark” in their lives. People don’t seem to be able to live without that…

  • bobby b

    @Fraser Orr:

    I’d agree with you that a relatively stable and self-secure person can make any life structure work, and work well. So, no, I’m not really critiquing the on-line life. Heck, I’m here way too often to do that.

    But the kids of whom I speak aren’t doing that. They’re dysfunctional to an extreme. What’s worse, many are constant gamers! (Gasp!) Their social interactions seem limited to playing the group game and communicating with LOL WTF! BRB FOAD!

    I’m a big fan of the idea that we ought to be educating our kids, because that makes life better for everybody. (You can argue the details of how we do that and what we teach them, but I think that’s a first principle.) These kids aren’t going to school at all. Whatever you think it is that education buys you, they don’t get that. (Yes, I could just kill my sister for allowing her son to drop out forever at 12. Pretty sure I’ll be financing some remedial work should he ever come out of this funk. Edu is only free when you’re little.)

    There’s also no thought of income for these kids. It’s not like they’re coding for bux while sitting in their rooms. They simply know that stuff will be provided for them. (And it usually is.)

    I think this isolate life is breeding a generation of kids who will never develop empathy for other people. They will never learn to relate to others, to make room for differences, to accept other opinions . . . It’s an unhealthy way to raise a generation.

    If you’ve ever read Watership Down, there’s a state that panicked rabbits go into when scared called tharn. It’s a complete freezing. I think that’s what we’re seeing in some of these kids.

    And, if you have any thoughts that this particular cohort is dealing with life in a new and modern healthy way, I’d note that the Japanese studies into this were triggered by the very high suicide rates among such kids. Those rates are creeping up here, too. I think that alone indicates that this lifestyle needs work.

  • bobby b

    @Fraser Orr:

    “Oh, it also made me think of another possible cause of these problems — the decline of religion.”

    I tend to agree, but I’d broaden it out from “religion” to some hierarchical structure. Same reason kids do better with the two-parent-rulemakers model, or with known and enforced moral structures in their life. Just having someone to report to, who judges your actions and motivations – whether that be God, or Dad, or Santa Claus, or cops who have a presence and show up and make bad people stop being bad – keeps society grouped more tightly around the moral norm.

  • Kirk

    One of the really amazing things about this “modern” age of ours is how our soi-disant brilliant elites thought that they could “re-invent the world”, ignoring established precedent and tradition. They knew better than those old fuddy-duddies, see?

    Those things got the way they were due to a millennia-long winnowing process; what didn’t work, got discarded along the way.

    As an aside, that was quite often “socialism/communalism”, starting back in Biblical times.

    So, they re-imagined the world, ignoring precedent and what went before… Threw the baby out with the bath water, and here we are.

    I don’t think that people are any happier, any more productive, any more “fulfilled”. So, why have we all gone along with this idiocy of our supposed “betters”? Peer pressure? Sheer blind trust in their foolishness?

    In any event, it’s not working. You can see the outlines of the coming crash, all around us. We’re in a nose dive, and the pilots are confidently drinking coffee, while telling “the rest of us” that all is well, and that there’s good reason they’re pressing forward on the control column…

  • BenDavid

    1. History: Gubmint funded schooling outside the home was one of the first agendas of what is now called the Progressive Left. It was sold in the 19th century as necessary for industrialization and absorption of immigrants.

    In hindsight we see why the Progressives of that era pushed this issue:

    Weakening the family and non-gubmint community
    “Liberating” mothers, casting family as a burden
    Social engineering/gatekeeping to ensure a perpetual sub-class and monopolize privilege

    This is why homeschoolers – and Judeo-Christians in general – are portrayed as dangerous Neanderthals even though they are generally better educated and more successful than the general population.

    2. Future: even before the Gramscian infiltration of public education, we knew that it did little to change outcomes. Here’s an interesting article that explains how hours of schooling are unrelated to achievement:


    Factoring in the computer/internet revolution, various forms of homeschooling combined with the “work ethic” model of childhood and adolescence look like the future. Many parents who are paying attention are groping towards something to replace the 19th century model.

    G-d has a great sense of humor. The Covid scare the Left unleashed to destroy the West actually woke up millions of parents, and led to exploration of tutoring in small groups, remote learning, and other alternatives to unionized Big Ed – as well as putting ideological reform on local and national political agendas.

    And if the Left succeeds in crashing the West many teens will be pushed into the workplace. “Get your High School degree at night/by mail!”

  • Paul Marks

    The comments have already said everything I would want to say – so good post and good comments!

  • One of my kids’ school is having a “shelter in place” lockdown practice today. We never had those when I was a kid.

    When I was a 14 year old living in London but a pupil at a public school in Dover (for the benefit of US readers, that means a private boarding school) at the start of term, I was able to travel unaccompanied across London on the Tube from Sloane Square to Embankment, then get on a train and head down to Dover (about 75 miles), with a suitcase and (when I was 16) a .22 rimfire target rifle (in a canvas gun cover) over one shoulder. Same in reverse coming home. This was done six times a year, at the start/end of Michaelmas, Lent & Summer terms.

    Something tells me that would be frowned upon these days.

  • staghounds

    Kirk- I have lived my entire life among three populations. Socially, the idle rich; professionally, the idle poor; and recreationally, among animals- horses- who have been separated from the need to scratch out a living.

    All three, especially the young ones, develop the same sorts of pathologies from not enough to do.

  • Jim

    “There’s a theory out there that humans are ill-adapted to prosperity and plenty. No adversity? We’ll create some…”


  • llamas

    @ bobby b. – I’ve watched a couple of documentaries about the ‘hikikomori’. I think what we’re seeing in the West is different.

    Those folks are afflicted with some form of psychosis, which unfortunately lies 90-degrees crosswise with the dominant culture. In a society where senior citizens wash the sidewalks every day just because they think they ought to, and connection to the community is the paramount social driver, a person who cannot stand being around others has no possible place in the social order. They’re not lazy, or idle, necessarily – many of them work very hard on their particular monomanias, and at an Amish-like separation from the outside – it’s just that the dominant culture has no way whatever to position these folks.

    By contrast, I know of several bone-idle, indolent loafers in my circle who are completely-comfortable and -integrated into the wider society. They’re quite happy to sponge endlessly off the efforts of others, or do the absolute-minimum required – preferably at some “cool” or undemanding occupation. They have full social lives, girlfriends even – why any sane female would associate with such unproductive losers is beyond me. They’re forever off travelling to “cool” places, bumming their living off those they find there. They are, simply put, drones – no redeeming social value at all, they just exist and consume. I find them easy to spot at a distance – dreadlocks, those silly-ass rings in their ears, tattoos, scruffy clothes, stupid shoes, keffiyahs, they stick out a mile. mrs llamas often observes that, if the SHTF, they’ll be the first to die. But they are something quite different than the ‘hikikomori’.