“Is Facebook Damaging Your Brain?”

My brother Bill sent me this youtube link last night – Is Facebook Damaging Your Brain?.

The journalist understandably seizes on the most exciting aspect of neuroscientist Lady Susan Greenfield’s concerns for the title. The edited clips suggest that she sees a possible correlation between social networking and rising rates of ADHD and Autism “over the last 10 years.” Perhaps that suggestion is only in the editing, as she must be aware that social networking is much more recent. Facebook itself was limited to college students and faculty until recently.

Then she says, “…depending on what kind of person you want the next generation to be…”

I wonder if aging adults have a primal fear of losing the attention of their descendants even while becoming more and more dependant upon them. After all, it’s one thing to share photos with Grandma over Facebook, and quite another to drive over with the photos and visit her, and maybe clean the gutters or clear some snow and ice while you’re there.

I’m all for studying the effects of computing on the brain but I wouldn’t worry too much about Facebook as a cause of autism. Instead, I recommend that you make sure you have frequent facetime with Grandma and Grandpa, if you’re fortunate enough to still have them. Go and see what they might need but aren’t asking for.

If you want to worry about brain damage, maybe you should worry more about common chemicals in your environment, for example, Ammonia (
It’s What’s For Dinner)

One response to ““Is Facebook Damaging Your Brain?”

  1. Thank you for this intriguing post. As a person associated with different technologies, this comes up often. Last time it was Virtual Reality, like Second Life was going to end society as we know it. It still amazes me how fear can cause otherwise intelligent people to see cause -effect relationships in absence of real data.
    It may be a symptom of a larger problem if a person starts giving up what was a healthy “real world” social life for Facebook. There have been concerns for a while about the “Now” generation and the need for instant gratification. Many educators are concerned about the lack of attention that students have toward writing longer essays. In that case I think that there is a lack of self discipline permitting distractions. Some people feel “left out” if they have to be “cut off” from their social communication (that they feel entitled to have).
    I missed out on the party phone line as kid but we did use CB radios to stay distracted at night. In the class we had our Walkmans taken away and at home things went off until the homework was done.
    One trap for computer based social communication is that they are based right into the tool they are supposed to be doing work on by definition.
    I see that as consequences and accountably in our society are on the decline,thus so is self discipline.
    People go to Facebook for different reasons. Some people have short attention spans and need the stimulus that it potentially offers. Some people feel left out of the drama. Some people are lonely and it fills the void of isolation. Some of us find and “talk” to people we otherwise could not.
    If it is causing ADD and autism, I would be happy to look at the data to support those claims. I am concerned about shows that have short bursts of varying stimulus on developing minds. That is where I exercise my judgement as a parent.
    Thank you for the chance to post on this interesting topic. Sorry it is so wordy. ~Brad

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