According to a interview published last week in the UK's Daily Mail, Oxford neurologist Lady Susan Greenfield is seriously suggesting that too much time spent interacting by texting on the computer can actually cause autism. I can only assume that the Baroness Greenfield is not aware that most cases of autism are diagnosed long, long before a child can actually read or write - and in many cases before developing the ability to even maneuver a computer mouse. Here's what she has to say:
'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sanitised and easier screen dialogues, in much the same way as killing, skinning and butchering an animal to eat has been replaced by the convenience of packages of meat on the supermarket shelf,' she said. ...The site GNews.com recently published an articles called Too Much Facebook Could Cause Autism in Children, commenting on the theory:
'Of course, we do not know whether the current increase in autism is due more to increased awareness and diagnosis of autism, or whether it can - if there is a true increase - be in any way linked to an increased prevalence among people of spending time in screen relationships. Surely it is a point worth considering,' she added.
In the latest health scare regarding the internet, scientists at Oxford University have warned that children who spend too much time on social networks online could suffer from personality and brain disorders.What concerns me about theories like this one is that, first, they're presented by individuals whose credentials really do suggest they know what they're talking about. Second, they hold a tiny grain of truth. Indeed, there is research to suggest that too much television at too young an age can have a negative impact on a child's ability to focus for long periods. But Greenfield isn't talking about focus - or television. She's talking about social interaction on computers, using the written word. And she's suggesting that such interaction can actually CAUSE autism.
Susan Greenfield, a neurologist at Oxford University has claimed that social network sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter can physically “rewire” children’s brains to change their personality.
Ms Greenfield said that too much time spent online would cause children to become more selfish and would severely reduce their attention spans.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Ms Greenfield said: “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.”
Ms Greenfield went on to suggest that the recent rise in child autism could be a direct result of children spending too much time online on popular social networks such as Bebo.
For the record, by the time a child is old enough to have and intelligently use a Facebook account, she is too old to be appropriately diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. To be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, a child must show symptoms PRIOR TO AGE 3.