Is Facebook Bad For Young Brains?

Here's another reason not to use Facebook: social networking websites may actually harm brains of its young users!

Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo are said to shorten attention spans, encourage instant gratification and make young people more self-centred.

The claims from neuroscientist Susan Greenfield will make disturbing reading for the millions whose social lives depend on logging on to their favourite websites each day. [...]

'We know how small babies need constant reassurance that they exist,' she told the Mail yesterday.

'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.'

Her comments echoed those she made during a House of Lords debate earlier this month. Then she argued that exposure to computer games, instant messaging, chat rooms and social networking sites could leave a generation with poor attention spans.

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> Then she argued that exposure to computer games ...
> could leave a generation with poor attention spans.

Interesting, considering how all recent studies show that computer games actually increase attention span, as well as eye / hand coordination and logical thought processing.
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Well Anise, small babies do need attention in order to survive. There was a study done decades ago when researchers tried to raise children without ever speaking to them, and all the babies died. But you do have a decent line of logic going, there simply isn't a logical thread going from "babies need attention" to "adults who need attention are babies."
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The entire hypothesis is interesting,and it may or may not be backed up by actual evidence at some point. But right now, it's not. And if we actually examine what this woman is saying...

"We know how small babies need constant reassurance that they exist"

Does not in any way actually support the idea that

‘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.’

First of all, she hasn't provided any proof that "small babies need constant reassurance that they exist"; so she's assuming facts that are not in evidence. But let's say just for the sake of argument that this supposition *has* been proven. The problem is that she doesn't go on to actually prove in what specific ways specific types of technology might actually cause the same type of effect. Yet another problem is that "needing constant reassurance that (they) exist" clearly isn't the same thing as having difficulties with attention and concentration. Then this supposed "top neuroscientist", who can't understand how her argument lacks the most rudimentary kind of logic, goes on to vaguely mention how she thinks all of this has been proven by some sort of attention problems she sees in children.

I really don't care that she's the Professor of Synaptic Pharmacology at Lincoln College, Oxford. She has to back up her statements with logic and reasoning. Credentials do not impress me and they should not impress anyone if they exist in the absence of basic logic and rational thought.
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Dude, this woman makes young internet users sound like a bunch of jittery, excitable, tweakers who can't wait for their next, well, anything. I'm OKAY with being chill and waiting. Long sermons and lectures are certainly not my favorite thing, and neither is standing in line. But I am totally content to be quiet and watch the leaves blow in my back yard. I can read a book (I actually happen to LOVE reading) and I can sit through a movie, and I sit through lectures as I am a student. And I AM a facebook/internet user. I'm sorry, but the people with the shortest attention spans I know are old people who don't EVER use the internet. While young people are content to just hang out, the old people are the impatient frustrated annoyed ones. They often cut in line, they are often demanding and impatient at the pharmacy/checkout line, etc. I don't see any more old people checking out books at the library than young ones, and they don't sit through long sermons or lectures any better than anyone I know. I don't understand this line of thought. Yes, facebook and myspace make us narcissistic, but so do makeup and clothes. So does television. So do movies. Anything outside ourselves makes us reflect UPON ourselves. That's just how life works. And gtron, you are right. Faster isn't *always* better, but sometimes it is better.
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