UK: Social networking harms kids

Neuroscientist warns social networking sites could stunt development of children's brains

The Straits Times
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

OXFORD (Britain) --- SOCIAL networking websites like Facebook and MySpace are "rewiring" children's brains said a neuroscientist on Tuesday.

According to a report in the UK's Daily Mail newspaper, these websites are making children more self-centred and reducing their attention spans.

Oxford University neuroscientist Susan Greenfield said the type of communication on sites like Facebook and MySpace could stunt the development of the brain.

"We know how small babies need constant reassurance that they exist," she said. "My fear is that these technologies are infantilising 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."

Speaking to the UK Parliament, Lady Greenfield said: "I often wonder whether real conversation in real time may eventually give way to these sanitised and easier screen dialogues, in much the same way as killing, skinning and butchering an animal to eat has been replaced by the convenience of packages of meat on the supermarket shelf."

According to the scientist, a teacher for 30 years had told her that there had been a "sharp decline" in the ability of pupils to understand their peers.

"It is hard to see how living this way on a daily basis will not result in brains, or rather minds, different from those of previous generations," she said.