Have I Got Your Attention?

Social Networking Sites are posing a threat to the psychological development of children, a report in the Guardian suggests today. Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution has spoken out about the fact that internet regulation in the UK has not been extended to these broader issues.

Arguing that social network sites are putting attention span in jeopardy, she said: “If the young brain is exposed from the outset to a world of fast action and reaction, of instant new screen images flashing up with the press of a key, such rapid interchange might accustom the brain to operate over such timescales. Perhaps when in the real world such responses are not immediately forthcoming, we will see such behaviours and call them attention-deficit disorder.

Greenfield also talks about the erosion of the sense of identity which is a result of: 

“fast-paced, instant screen reactions, perhaps the next generation will define themselves by the responses of others”.

She quoted one user saying they had 900 friends;

“that you can’t see or hear other people makes it easier to reveal yourself in a way that you might not be comfortable with. You become less conscious of the individuals involved [including yourself], less inhibited, less embarrassed and less concerned about how you will be evaluated.”

 Greenfield warns us about how this may impact on the mind, as social networking becomes a part of our daily routine. The solutions it seems lay in education, culture and society, rather than legislation.

This is a fascinating subject of discussion which appeals greatly to people who work in the field of Psychology and Social Development. I think there is a real need for further studies into the impact of the internet on children and their development.

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