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Dr. Phil hits the nail on the head on why shutting down schools during COVID-19 pandemic was devastating for children
Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Dr. Phil hits the nail on the head on why shutting down schools during COVID-19 pandemic was devastating for children

Dr. Phil explained in a new podcast why closing schools and mandating "virtual learning" during the COVID-19 pandemic was detrimental to American youth.

Speaking with Ted Cruz on his podcast "The Verdict," Dr. Phil, a clinical psychologist, said the results of shutting down schools for an extended time are obvious: it was bad for development, and students are increasingly falling behind.

"Right now, almost a third of fifth- and eighth-graders can't read at the most fundamental level. They can't read a sentence," Dr. Phil said. "And the question is: How did they get in the fifth grade? How did they get into the eighth grade? 19% of high school graduates can't read. They cannot read.

"How do you graduate high school if you can’t read in the first, second, and third grade?" he continued. "From the fourth grade on, you read to learn. So, if you don't learn to read in those first three grades, you don't have that tool to learn the rest of your life. And if teachers are going to pass them either way, then you're just setting them up to fail."

The Dr. Phil Interview - Part Two | Verdict Ep. 180www.youtube.com

Importantly, COVID-19 itself did not cause this problem. The blame falls on policymakers who decided to close schools without considering the developmental consequences of virtual "learning."

Those decision-makers, Dr. Phil recounted, called him a "complete idiot" when he criticized their decisions during the pandemic. Now, he is concerned with the decades-long ramifications of being right.

According to Dr. Phil, less education leads to poorer-paying, blue-collar jobs, which lead to "poorer health coverage," more disease risk, and, in the end, "years of life shaved off" lives.

"What gets me is they did this — the same agencies that advocated for this are the same agencies that had the records that said, 'We have the highest levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness among our children than we've had since records were being kept. So, let's shut down the schools, which we know are essential to their development,'" Dr. Phil mocked.

"It's like throwing gas on a fire," he said.

The comments followed earlier concerns that Dr. Phil raised about how technology and algorithms are being intentionally designed to target children negatively.

"They're being targeted with what they will click on, full well knowing that it creates anxiety, depression,loneliness, confusion, self-hatred," he said. "And if you want to create chaos in a society, where do you start? You attack the children."

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