For kids, the back-to-phone season approaches

Photo by Alexandre Desane on Unsplash

Re-sharing below the latest edition of #Web3 Weekly, my regular newsletter about decentralization. This installment covers July 25–31, 2021. If you’d like to get #Web3 Weekly in your inbox every Sunday, subscribe here.

For many students, the reopening of in-person schools soon will mean being “alone together” again. Chalk it up as an unintended downside to their avid smartphone use — and misuse.

Psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Jean M. Twenge, who have researched teen depression and other ill effects of smartphones on minors, took to the New York Times today to discuss the problem.

In particular, they recommend that schools outright ban phone usage during the day so students can focus better on classroom learning. This would effectively reserve the devices for communication while in transit to and from school — the safety-related use case parents always cite as the rationale for buying kids phones in the first place.

Offhand, this strikes me as a great idea. (Coincidentally, it’s also consistent with the approach many Silicon Valley leaders, including some famous ones, advocate at their own kids’ schools.) But to be honest, I’m not too hopeful about it being implemented widely, considering how addicted many adult decisionmakers in the process are to their phones. That might be the only part Haidt and Twenge didn’t address in their otherwise excellent essay.

The week’s other headlines:

  • Bitcoin came roaring back. The number-one crypto token leapt more than 20% for the week, recently trading above $42,000 for the first time since May. Market veterans said the rally was driven by a massive short squeeze in which bearish investors were forced to unwind long-held positions. As ever, the market also digested a string of announcements from notable individual players. Amazon denied rumors it will begin accepting bitcoin payments soon, though it is definitely hiring a new blockchain product lead. In its second-quarter profit announcement, MicroStrategy said it plans to continue buying bitcoin to add to its current stash of 105,000 tokens, worth over $4 billion. Tesla said it took a $23 million writedown on its bitcoin in the second quarter due to the token’s price decline from an all-time high above $62,000. And FTX said it will do a bitcoin giveaway promotion in conjunction with Major League Baseball.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Tether for possible bank fraud, according to Bloomberg News. The dollar-pegged stablecoin has been the most actively traded crypto currency by far this year, including a July high of $92.5 billion in daily trading volume last Monday (July 26), according to CoinMarketCap data. Such heavy activity has increased regulators’ concerns that Tether and similar stablecoins are being used to mask transactions that would otherwise go through conventional banks.
  • Shopify’s president announced that merchants can now use the popular e-commerce platform to sell non-fungible tokens directly to users.
  • The blockchain infrastructure company Paxos announced that it’s closed a new $300 million investment round from investors including Bank of America, FTX, and Coinbase. Sounds like a promising step toward CEO Charles Cascarilla’s goal to “remake the financial plumbing of Wall Street,” according to Decrypt.
  • Tech IPOs were mixed. Shares of the mobile-focused brokerage Robinhood (which has also been exploring new crypto products lately) tumbled in their first day of trading publicly. But language learning app Duolingo soared. Binance and BlockFi, which have both been beset by regulatory issues lately, are reportedly considering initial stock offerings as well.
  • A piece of rock history surfaced on Twitter. Glitch co-founder and Prince superfan Anil Dash shared what is believed to be the earliest known footage of His Royal Purpleness performing in public. It’s a local news story from St. Paul television station KSTP about the demolition of a Minneapolis YWCA in 1974. A 16-year-old Prince can briefly be heard playing with his early band Grand Central at a ceremony prior to the demoltion. On his Twitter thread about the clip, Anil has a photo of the gig and a bunch of other cool trivia and context as well.

That’s it for now. As ever, a quick disclaimer: This newsletter is intended for informational purposes only, not as investment advice. For the latter, please DYOR and consult appropriate financial professionals to make the most suitable choices for your particular needs.

Thanks for spending some time with the newsletter today! A full revision history of it, including earlier drafts, is available here if you’re interested. If you’d like to get updates like this in your inbox every Sunday, please join our email list here.




Head of Content & Writer Development at Capsule Social. Also publish the newsletter #Web3Weekly. Former reporter for WSJ, Washington Post, and Vice.

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Peter A. McKay

Peter A. McKay

Head of Content & Writer Development at Capsule Social. Also publish the newsletter #Web3Weekly. Former reporter for WSJ, Washington Post, and Vice.

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