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Facebook may make you infantile

Facebook may make you infantile

So says the director of Britain’s Royal Institution, one of the oldest scientific research bodies in the world.

February 24, 2009 2:36 by

Frequent users of social network sites are suffering psychological problems, such as short attention span and sensationalism, Susan Greenfield, the director of Britain’s scientific research body, the Royal Institution, and an Oxford University neuroscientist has said, reports The Guardian.

She reportedly told the House of Lords that children’s experiences on social networking sites “are devoid of cohesive narrative and long-term significance. As a consequence, the mid-21st century mind might almost be infantilized, characterized by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathize and a shaky sense of identity.”

Greenfield said the networking site encouraged children to feel more recognized and important, and that “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sanitized and easier screen dialogues, in much the same way as killing, skinning and butchering an animal to eat has been replaced by the convenience of packages of meat on the supermarket shelf. Perhaps future generations will recoil with similar horror at the messiness, unpredictability and immediate personal involvement of a three-dimensional, real-time interaction.”

“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. We know that the human brain is exquisitely sensitive to the outside world,” she warned.

But its not just children that the networking sites may be having a negative effect on.

An article published in The Independent last year says that thousands of social network site users have lost their jobs, or failed to get new ones because of their pages’ contents.

A research report published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists last year quotes Himanshu Tyagi, a psychiatrist at West London Mental Health Trust as saying “It may be possible that young people who have no experience of a world without online societies put less value on their real world identities and can therefore be at risk in their real lives, perhaps more vulnerable to impulsive behavior or even suicide.”

The use of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace is on the rise globally; according to Google’s Zeitgiest in 2008, “facebook login” was the third fastest rising search term globally. “Facebook” also occupied the same spot on the UAE’s top 10 Google list.

Are the repercussions going to follow soon? Will the next generation become infantile?

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1 Comment

  1. Shandi Scheuvront on January 22, 2010 12:59 am

    That’s an interesting post, I really think that social networkingnetworking type of websites are going to be taking a huge gain in 2010. I really think that we are only in the beginning stages of social networking and we can see that with applications like Gowalla, it’s only a matter of time until all things are communicating together at an even greater level. I’m can’t wait and am excited for this year, it’s gonna be a big year in social networking. I’m wondering what you think?


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