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Facebook and Bebo risk 'infantilising' the human mind

At first, after reading Lady Greenfield’s article titled ”Facebook and Bebo risk ‘infantilizing’ the human mind” I was a bit set back but eventually came to the conclusion that she is basically saying that Facebook, as well as Bebo and Twitter, are bad for your brain and may cause symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder. She claims that the rapid flashes of the screen constantly changing may change the brain and cause these effects. Greenfield is obviously a very established scientist at Lincoln College and who am I to even begin to criticize her, but it seems as though she is claiming a lot. Nowhere in this article does she refer to articles or specifics. All she does is claim and believe that these websites are producing negative effects on the brain. However I do agree that she raises a good point and it needs to be looked into. After all she has caught the government’s attention with the subject. I believe there is much more to the problem other than what she claims and has attempted to identify.

In the audio clip that is provided in the article she specifically says that no research has been done on this issue and it is her belief that this exists. Personally, I feel that this is very comparable to the introduction of the television. Facebook is a fairly new concept and of course there is going to be opposition to the idea of online relationships as well as time spent in front of the computer screen. Is a computer really all that different that a television screen? The two seem to be, in general, basically the same. The only difference is that the user is more involved with what they are doing on the screen. According to an article I read on Prevention.com it is possible to increase your concentration skills while watching television. Why is this any different than the computer? The article is titled “TV-Brain Workout” and explains that if you are willing to lower the volume of your TV you can actually increase your concentration skills. This seems as though it is very similar to the computer. Many people do not have any sounds on while they are on the computer or if they do, it’s usually music or something similar. It seems as if the music would improve your concentration skills requiring that you tune it out in order to focus your attention to the computer. You are also concentrating on what you are doing as well as doing multiple things at one time. This requires the use of more parts of your brain rather than focusing on one single piece of work at a given time.

I also saw an article on CBS just this morning and it reminded me of this idea that the computer can decrease brain function. I looked into the article further and was able to pull up the entire story online. CBS claims that according to the Journal of American Epidemiology, long hours on the job may weaken your mental abilities and could put you at risk of developing dementia. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary the term dementia means “a progressive condition (as Alzheimer’s disease) marked by deteriorated cognitive functioning often with emotional apathy.” I believe that there is definitely some type of connection between brain function and exposure to two dimensional images for a long period of time. There is a connection between the CBS story and the work of Lady Greenfield in that the brain reacts to long periods of work. Lady Greenfield’s article may be hinting at the actual number of hours we spend in front of the computer and the effects that that time has on our brain. Many people go to work or school for up to eight hours, or more, in a day. When they arrive home what do they do? They go directly to their television sets or computer. Anyone that has ever attended work or a class knows that you just don’t sit and do nothing the entire time. You are expected to be there mentally and in turn your brain is working hard most of the time. If you add all of this time that you are at work or school up with the time that a person spends in front of the television it is most certainly greater than fifty-five hours in a week, which is the amount that is explained to be too much in the CBS article. To top it off most of the population is sleep deprived. According to a study at the UCSD School of Medicine in San Diego brain function is altered when we are sleep deprived. The electrical and chemical reactions that occur during sleep are interrupted.

I believe that it is not just these new online sites such as Facebook and Bebo, but it is the lifestyle that we live that may be causing the increase in cases of Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD). We often spend many hours at a job or class and many hours in front of a computer or television screen. There simply is not enough time for our brain to get the required rest it needs which is causing the increase in symptoms. To try and blame the increase in ADD cases on people spending too much time on the computer seems to be irrational to me. Although it may be part of the cause, it is not the only one. We live very busy lives and try to be as efficient as possible and in a society that is becoming more and more technologically based we must rely on computers in order to be as efficient as possible.

Sources:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/02/26/earlyshow/health/main4830822.shtm
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dementia...
http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/tv-brain-workout/...
http://health.ucsd.edu/news/2000_02_09_Sleep.html