James, Lilian, Lisa and Ron discuss the recent publicity over Susan Greenfield’s comments in the Daily Mail on the “dangers” of social networking and young people’s brains. Does using social networking sites lead to loneliness and isolation? Do users of Facebook and Twitter feel excluded from society. In this podcast we discuss the furore and the issues.
This is the fifteenth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Social networking rots your brains.
Download the podcast in mp3 format: Social networking rots your brains
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James is joined by Lilian Soon, Lisa Valentine and Ron Mitchell.
- James’ blog post on this subject.
- BBC News reports on Susan Greenfield.
- The story then ran in the Daily Mail and Susan was interviewed.
- Dr Ben Goldacre has published his reaction to the article on the Bad Science blog.
- Dr Ben Goldacre also linked to some useful academic papers which dispute the “connection” between social networking and loneliness.
- Caplan SE published a paper in 2007 entitled: “Relations among loneliness, social anxiety, and problematic Internet use.” Dr Sigman did not quote this paper in his article. Why not? “The results support the hypothesis that the relationship between loneliness and preference for online social interaction is spurious.”
- Sum et al published a paper in 2008 with the title: “Internet use and loneliness in older adults“. Dr Sigman chose not to quote this paper. Why not? I don’t know, although it does contain the line “greater use of the Internet as a communication tool was associated with a lower level of social loneliness.”
- Subrahmanyam et al published a paper in 2007 called “Adolescents on the net: Internet use and well-being.” It features the line “loneliness was not related to the total time spent online, nor to the time spent on e-mail”. Dr Sigman ignored it.
- Another good blog post on this is from Sue Thomas.
- Why Social Networks Are Good for the Kids.
- Age Concern backs social networks.
Finally the photo above of zombies meeting in the real world was organised on Facebook. So you could argue that Facebook has turned them into zombies, however I don’t think these kinds of social gatherings was what Susan Greenfield meant.
5 thoughts on “e-Learning Stuff Podcast #015: Social networking rots your brains”
Nice podcast as usual James. All the panellists have made some sensible points, but they all seemed to agree with each other….hmmm. Could you not have invited Susan Greenfield or Aric Sigman to join the panel to provide their own perspective? (Only joking) My own take on the subject is called ‘Twitter made my head explode’ at http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2009/02/twitter-made-my-head-explode.html
Oh, and the title music came in twice very loud over the top of the conversation toward the end of the discussion. Nearly made me spoil my pantaloons I can tell thee!
Thanks for noting the “issue” with the title music… Not sure how those ended up there. Ah well, taken them out, re-exporting and then I will need to upload again.
I would have loved for someone else to be on the podcast to counter our agreement, but no one I knew agreed with Susan or Aric…
Podcast issue with title music now fixed. Apologies to your pantaloons Steve and to anyone else who was listening.
I think Susan Greenfield brings up many important points here. It is naive to argue that social networking is all bad (which Susan Greenfild doesn’t argue) but it is equally wrong to argue it is all good. Technology can create positive communities of practice and positive learning experiences but there is a big difference between means-focused social interaction by those who have already learned to communicate in ‘joined up thoughts’ and stream of consciousness communication that characterises so much Facebook-style activity.
If “teenagers now spend seven-and-a-half hours a day in front of a screen” they are seriously disadvantaged, whatever is on the screen.
The view from the classroom suggests learners are increasingly challenged by tasks requiring concentration (though the continual grade inflation in UK education suggests awarding bodies find ingenious ways of disguising it).
If “a quarter of British children have a laptop or computer in their room by the age of five and they have their own social networking sites” (Aric Sigman) then there is a serious need to know what the effect of online networking is on people whose real life social networking is still immature.
Dr Himanshu Tyagi comments on the online world that “It’s a world where everything moves fast and changes all the time, where relationships are quickly disposed at the click of a mouse, where you can delete your profile if you don’t like it, and swap an unacceptable identity in the blink of an eye for one that is more acceptable.” Not great training for real life..
There are undeniable benefits of social networking for many people but denying the problems, abuses and genuine threats is not recommended.
Interesting debate – my two oldest (15/17) both use bebo, but I would say it is as an extension of their real world life.
My youngest just 14 refuses to use even MSN, “I am too busy to sit in front of the computer” :-).
Personally I take a great interest in what my children do and don’t do online and 7 1/2 hours on the laptop a day would send alarm bells ringing…. On the other hand as we have lived in different countries they find the sites a great way to keep in touch with friends from near and afar.
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