Facebook and Twitter affecting our brains, report suggests

Mon 28th of June 2010, filed under Social Media

Social media providing too many distractions

While some may believe that social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are just harmful distractions, experts are beginning to think that this new media could be more of a problem than we realise.

In his new book The Shallows, American science writer Nicholas Carr explores the idea that new media is skewing how we think. He believes that the speed and ease in which information is available online is having a negative effect on how we think.

To illustrate his point, Carr cited his own struggles when reading, claiming that he found his mind was often "just drifting" and finding it difficult to become absorbed in the text. He said:

"When we go online we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. We are evolving from being cultivators of personal knowledge to being hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest."

Social media's good turns

However, this argument can perhaps be refuted by a recent survey conducted by Nielsen BookScan. The company found that the rise of the internet and social media is not affecting sales of children's books. Last year, 4.9 per cent more titles were sold compared to one year previous, suggesting that young people are still finding time to turn off the computer and settle down with a book.

In addition, the popularity of social media websites has had positive effects on society, with charity drives becoming increasingly popular on Facebook. For example, earlier this year women around the world changed their Facebook statuses to reflect the colour of their bras as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of checking regularly for breast cancer symptoms.

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