Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity, according to a leading neuroscientist.
The startling warning from Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution, has led members of the government to admit their work on internet regulation has not extended to broader issues, such as the psychological impact on children.
Mary Harrington on the Daily Mail's take on the same story:
Social media are probably only comparable to Thatcherism in espousing a kind of commonality through radical individualism (albeit, on the social media side, a California-flavoured one born in ’60s Palo Alto). So this is only really a thought experiment. But still: thirty years from now, what will the consequences of digitally-mediated social life be on the fabric of real-world society? Will we all be bloated screen-bound bovines as seen in Wall-E, or will we have hit some extraordinary techno-infrastructural Black Swan and been deprived of our networks altogether? If we raise a generation of kids unable to interact un-networked, how might we cope in the face of digital Armageddon? It’s paradoxical to sit writing something like this in a blog, I know; but it’s not surprising that, now that social media are maturing and going mainstream, we’re beginning to see debates as to whether the Web really is the great leap forward that it’s sometimes trumpeted as, or whether it represents a sociocultural or even evolutionary cul-de-sac.