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26 FEBRUARY 2012

Social networking sites: devoid of cohesive narratives

Baroness Susan Greenfield "told the House of Lords that children's experiences on social networking sites 'are devoid of cohesive narrative and long–term significance. As a consequence, the mid–21st century mind might almost be infantilised, characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity'.

Arguing that social network sites are putting attention span in jeopardy, she said: 'If the young brain is exposed from the outset to a world of fast action and reaction, of instant new screen images flashing up with the press of a key, such rapid interchange might accustom the brain to operate over such timescales. Perhaps when in the real world such responses are not immediately forthcoming, we will see such behaviours and call them attention–deficit disorder. ...

She also warned against 'a much more marked preference for the here–and–now, where the immediacy of an experience trumps any regard for the consequences. After all, whenever you play a computer game, you can always just play it again; everything you do is reversible. The emphasis is on the thrill of the moment, the buzz of rescuing the princess in the game. No care is given for the princess herself, for the content or for any long–term significance, because there is none."

(Patrick Wintour, political editor, 24 February 2009)

2) Leading neuroscientist Lady Greenfield on the impact of spending hours in front of the computer and what makes a friend.



21st centuryattention spanattention-deficit disorderBebobrain • buzz • cohesive narrativescomputer game • consequence • consequencesexperienceFacebookfast actiongames • here-and-now • House of Lords • human mind • hypermediacyimmediacyimmediacy of experience • inability to empathise • infantilised • information in context • jeopardy • knowledge construction • long-term significance • narrative • new screen images • no care • play • play it again • press of a key • princess • rapid interchange • reaction • responses • reversible • screen culture • screen life • screen world • sensationalism • sense of identity • short attention span • social construction of knowledgesocial networking servicesocial networking sitessound biteSusan Greenfield • thrill of the moment • young brains


Simon Perkins

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