Yesterday we had some research emerge which suggested that playing shooters was actually good for you, in the sense that it helped condition the brain to make quicker, but no less accurate, decisions in general.
Although today new concerns have broken cover put forward by brain scientist Susan Greenfield, who claims that games, the Internet and computers in general could be rewiring the brain, and comprise a potential threat to our society on the same level as climate change.
Speaking to Mail Online, Greenfield said: “Whilst of course it doesn’t threaten the existence of the planet like climate change, I think the quality of our existence is threatened – and the kind of people we might be in the future.”
Greenfield points to a number of concerns, such as the rise of Attention Deficit Disorder in a generation of kids, some of whom spend up to eight hours in front of a screen of some sort every day.
Although we’d argue a nutritionally bankrupt diet is just as important, or a more important factor in ADD. Mind you, Greenfield guns for games on the diet front, with not just the obvious concerns about couch potato obesity, but the fact that games teach kids to take risks with no thought for consequence as you can always restart a level.
Hence children don’t think about longer term issues, such as how their health might be affected by eating pizza and chips at every meal. Although surely that’s just the nature of kids – we’d have probably had pizza and chips all the time, but our school and parents wouldn’t let us, strangely enough.
Another issue she brings up is social networking sites having a potentially negative impact on the levels of empathy that the youth feel towards each other. And also search engines come in for flak for making us lazier in feeling we don’t need to learn, as the answer is always to hand via a computer or phone.
She did admit that there were benefits to computers, including improvements in memory, and swifter information processing as the shooter video games study also referred to.
She was quoted by the Mail as saying: “Some very good things are coming out of it. But, by the same token, we have got to be very careful about what price we are paying, that the things that are being lost don’t outweigh the things gained.”
Greenfield is calling for a research programme to be instituted, to look into the effects of all modern technology on the brain.