Your brain vs technology: Is the wired world changing the way we think?

Technology is frequently accused of being the root cause of a raft of social problems.

Texting, social networking, googling – they’ve all been in the dock in recent years, accused of causing a range of social and behavioural problems.

‘Authorities blame games for sword attack’, ‘Video game cause of murder of great-grandmother by teen’, ‘Facebook hurts grades, creates more narcissistic tendencies for teens’ are just a few recent headlines, while earlier this year, the finger was pointed at social services such as Twitter and BBM for apparently amplifying civil disorder in August’s riots.

Of course, fear mongering and tabloid journalism make natural bedfellows, but could there be some substance to concerns that technology is affecting the way we behave – and even the way we think?

In the past decade, Baroness Susan Greenfield, professor of Synaptic Pharmacology at Lincoln College, Oxford, has publicly questioned how the digital world might be affecting our brains, our intellect and our ability to form meaningful real-world relationships.

In 2006, Greenfield was quoted in a Guardian article warning of the impact of electronic media use on children’s ability to learn, saying: “I am not proposing that we become IT Luddites, but rather that we could be stumbling into a powerful technology, the impact of which we understand poorly at the moment.”

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