The nature of communication on the sites could stunt development of the brain, Oxford University neuroscientist Susan Greenfield said.
“We know how small babies need constant reassurance that they exist”, she told the UK’s Daily Mail.
“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.”
Lady Greenfield has previously said exposure to computer games, action movies, chat rooms and social networking sites could leave a generation with poor attention spans.
“I often wonder whether real conversation in real time may eventually give way to these sanitised and easier screen dialogues, in much the same way as killing, skinning and butchering an animal to eat has been replaced by the convenience of packages of meat on the supermarket shelf,” she told the UK Parliament.
A teacher of 30 years had already noticed a sharp decline in the ability of her pupils to understand others, Lady Greenfield told the House of Lords.
“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,” she said.
Toxic Childhood author Sue Palmer told the Mail: “We are seeing children’s brain development damaged because they don’t engage in the activity they have engaged in for millennia.
‘I’m not against technology and computers. But before they start social networking, they need to learn to make real relationships with people.”
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