Glaeser, Screen Time & Bright-Line Rules

The entrenched vs. the newcomers

Suggested by Sam Dumitriu, research director at The Entrepreneurs Network

Economist Ed Glaeser is the world’s leading expert on cities: “Everything you see around you today in the glittering, towering, often maddening cities we call home, has at some point or another been quantified and chronicled across his more than 600 written articles, and nearly 100,000 citations.” Since 2015, he has given an annual lecture in New York.

2019's lecture focuses on what he argues is the new divide in US politics: The entrenched vs. the newcomers. It’s a divide that applies equally well to the UK. He argues that we’ve seen a proliferation of rules, such as restrictions on new development, that favour insiders at the expense of the young. He believes that the young understand “that they’re being sold out, shut out, and they want to reshuffle the deck.”

Glaeser makes the case for the need for a new agenda focused on freedom: “Overmighty states are engines for empowering insiders. Markets are not. Markets are about making things open for any entrepreneur.”

In defense of screen time

Suggested by Philip Salter, founder of The Entrepreneurs Network

Björn Jeffery urges parents to move beyond the growing consensus that all screen time should be discouraged or at least tolerated. Like books and other media, he argues that screen time isn't inherently good nor bad. It can be both. The content and context matter.

Jeffery cites the biggest study we have on screen time from ten years of data and involving over 10,000 British preteens. What does it show? "Well, mostly nothing! In more than half of the thousands of statistical models tested, researchers found nothing more than random statistical noise."

For Jeffery, Fortnite and Minecraft point to a potential positive future, "where global collaboration is seamless and enriching". He has concerns about screen time in the extreme, but argues that by withholding screens from our kids we may be reducing a hypothetical risk at the expense a substantial future opportunity.

Using bright-line rules

Suggested by Scott Craig, adviser at The Entrepreneurs Nework

Do you have at least one 'bad' habit you’d like to eliminate? Are you checking emails at 11pm for example, or drinking more often than you would like? Then this big idea is for you. Habit researcher James Clear argues that setting progressively expanding ‘bright-line’ rules can help us overcome even our most deep-rooted habits.

Here's how it works. Pick a habit you'd like to change, then set a clear and unambiguous rule that’s initially very small in scope. For example, 'I don’t drink on Thursday evenings.' Once you can stick to the rule, gradually expand its scope, e.g. ‘I don’t drink on Weekday’s’, until – like an antibiotic spreading across a Petri dish – the bad habit is eventually eliminated.

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