A growing number of neuroscientists are warning of potential dangers to children using popular social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. They cite hindrances in brain development, shorter attention spans and difficulty communicating in real-world situations.
“My fear is that these technologies are infantilizing the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment,” Baroness Greenfield, an Oxford University neuroscientist, told the UK’s Daily Mail.
Greenfield recently spoke before the House of Lords, arguing that computer games, instant messaging, chat rooms and social networking sites could potentially leave an entire generation with poor attention spans.
“I often wonder whether real conversation in real time may eventually give way to these sanitized and easier screen dialogues, in much the same way as killing, skinning and butchering an animal to eat has been replaced by the convenience of packages of meat on the supermarket shelf,” she said to the House. She also pointed out that autistic people, who typically have difficulty communicating, are often comfortable using computers.
Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, expressed similar concerns to the Daily Mail. “We are seeing children's brain development damaged because they don't engage in the activity they have engaged in for millennia,” she said.
“I'm not against technology and computers. But before they start social networking, they need to learn to make real relationships with people.”
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