A monthly event featuring debates, talks, interviews, music and film. LIVE.


Monday 15th July - 06:00 PM BST

The Great Rewiring of Our Lives

Have we damaged childhood forever?

An online programme of debate, discussion, and discovery with the world's leading thinkers on the critical issues of our time taking place in our online festival venue. July's event, 'The Great Rewiring of Our Lives' will be questioning if we have damaged childhood forever.

The true object of all human life is play' proclaimed G.K. Chesterton. But in today's world, critics argue there's a danger that we have replaced genuine play and the open exploration of the natural world with simulated and rule governed fun which is profoundly damaging. Studies show the time children play outside has plummeted by more than two thirds in just one generation. Since the arrival of social media, and the decline of free play, anxiety has increased by 92% for those between 18-25.

Is active and exploratory play central to the human condition and are structured screen based alternatives ill-conceived from the start? Are adults equally at risk of succumbing to addictive but ultimately damaging artificial distractions? Or can we develop artificial forms of play that have the same rewarding and life enhancing qualities that we associate with an open and playful engagement with the natural world?


18:00 BST - The Great Rewiring of Our Lives arena

17:20 BST - Katharine Birbalsingh on Meaning in Life The Lounge

19:20 BST - Screens aren't causing a mental health epidemic arena

Katharine Birbalsingh

Britain's strictest headmistress

Katharine Birbalsingh CBE, known as 'Britain's strictest headmistress',  is the founder and head teacher of Michaela Community School, a free school established in 2014 in Wembley Park, London.  Michaela’s last Progress 8 score placed it as the best school in the country.

Birbalsingh is outspoken in her views that smartphones should have no place in the classroom and that children need love and strict discipline to flourish in life.

Emily Edlynn

Pioneering Therapist

Emily Edlynn is an academic and practicing therapist. She writes the popular Substack The Art and Science of Mom and is author of Autonomy-Supportive Parenting, arguing that parents should raise children who are self-aware and have a sense of agency over their lives.

Edlynn is vocal in her belief that sometimes parents need to hear that we are actually doing okay, that our mistakes are normal, and that our children will really be fine.

Jonathan Haidt

World-renowned psychologist

Jonathan Haidt is a world-renowned psychologist and Professor at the New York University Stern School of Business. He has made groundbreaking contributions to the psychology of morality and moral emotions and is the author of several famous and best-selling books including The Righteous Mind and The Coddling of the American Mind.

His most recent best-selling book, The Anxious Generation, argues the decline of free play in childhood and the rise of smartphone usage among adolescents are the twin sources of increased mental distress among teenagers.

Jonathan Haidt, Katharine Birbalsingh and Emily Edlynn go head-to-head over the question if we've damaged childhood forever.

Join our speakers after the debate for a live Q&A in 'Meet the Speakers'.