Wednesday, February 25, 2009 media is FORCING our minds to "infant-like state"

I guess I was a little too quick on the publish trigger with that last post.  If texting isn't damaging our youth then new media (internet, video games, etc) is according to another ars technica post

Susan Greenfield, of Oxford University, gets the "Jump-to-conclusions-and-create-fear-in-order-to-get-press" award this week. You've GOT to love this...
"Greenfield said that sites like Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, and Twitter may be forcing kids' brains back into an infant-like state, as infants need constant stimulation to remind them that they exist. She added that she worries that "real" conversation will eventually give way to these little snippets of text dialogue, indicating that our normal language might eventually turn into pokes, wall shout-outs, and 140-character snark fests."
"FORCING kids' brains back into an infant-like state"

REALLY! Because I can now connect and communicate with the world, and not just those standing next to me, I am regressing to an "infant-like state." Well, turn off the Internet folks.  Its all over.  We certainly can't be having infant-like brains so we better just give up this whole using the Internet for learning thing. 

Perhaps someone could come up with a graphic for me as part the award and I'll send it too her.

Let's be perfectly clear.  I am not a neuroscientist, and I don't play one on TV.  However, I am a life-long learner, well educated in the traditional institutions of today, and a father.  For the most part, I hated school until I decided to attend graduate school.  Most of the time my kids are not happy with going to school...and they are very bright, successful students.  "SCHOOL" as we know it SUCKS!!!  Kids don't pay attention because they are BORED!  I was bored.  Stop blaming the Internet, and video games already.  Its so cliche.  I would expect more from Oxford.  Actually, I'm not sure why I would expect more from them. 

Special thanks to Jacqui Cheng of ars technica for getting both sides of the story...
"As some critics have already noted, Greenfield didn't cite any specific research when making these comments. Facebook spokesperson Larry Yu told the Wall Street Journal that, while Greenfield was entitled to her opinion, "we have not seen anything to really back up that worry."

Actually I don't even know why these stories bother me so much. Perhaps its flashbacks to the days of Rock'n'Roll music being blamed for suicides, and other stuff like it. Don't know. Just had to post about it. Sorry for the rant.


Adam said...

I can't agree more with your rant! This kind of unsubstantiated and inflammatory claim is unwarranted and unacceptable. Thankfully, the good folks over at Mind Hacks published a post today with links to a YouTube discussion between these quacks and some folks who actually know what they're talking about. It will definitely help calm you down... ;)

Brent Schlenker said...

Thanks for the tip on the other conversation. I will definitely check it out.

doofdaddy said...

I haven't listened to any of the lady's presentation so I can't join in the ridicule. However, I recall a paper I read during my master's program. Like you, I'm no brain doctor, so I am probably getting this all mixed up and simplified.

The author's assertion was that there's a point in the brain's development that requires a certain type of stress. This stress is what helps the brain develop long-term forecasting and planning ability.

Normally this stress to the brain happens during puberty and early adulthood where the person has to be disconnected from normal supports and fends for oneself and learns to make decisions and all of that part of growing up.

His assertion was that it's possible that the continual connection to people creates a sort of dependency that retards this part of the brain's development because people don't experience the same type of stress.

It was an interesting read. Too bad I can't find it. I think it poses some interesting questions, not about the communication tools and sites like FB (which are essentially neutral), but about the impact that this type of continual social connection has on a person's development.

Brent Schlenker said...

That does sound like an interesting read. By how you've explained it, it sounds like legitimate science that we can have a conversation around. Let me know if you find it.