The Brain and Social Media

The brain is no doubt a very complex part of our body, processing complex information of a daily bases.  It allows us to express emotions such as happiness, sadness or just being in love.  It is essential to use and I think this You Tube Video “Ode to the Brain!” puts a lot of things into context.

An article in the Guardian Newspaper by the science writer Martin Robbins, titled “Facebook will destroy your children’s brains“.  Before exploring this concept, a look at the original purpose of this social media site might help the reader to visualise some of the arguments.

Does Facebook or other popular social media sites such as twitter destroy the brain?

According to some “top scientists” the younger generation could undergo an “identity crisis” craving for attention.  The outspoken british scientist and writer Lady Susan Greenfield certainly has a lot to say on the matter: suggesting that repetitive exposure could effectively “rewire” the brian.  Ben Goldacre the author of the website, Bad Science, suggests that Greenfield has no real evidence but is riding on excess panic, speculations and mere ideas.

The use of social media by scientists can certainly cause a stir and without further investigation by the reader, could certainly mean ‘take on this misconception’.  It appears at this stage there is a lack of evidence to suggest the children’s brains are rewired.  Perhaps at this stage we should investigate the dependence of people of these sites and their need to keep an online log of their lives and opinions of others.

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8 comments on “The Brain and Social Media

  1. Social media may destroy some people’s ability to have face to face social skills but I doubt it will destroy the brain. I am not a brain scientist, so I don’t know, but I feel like that’s massively exaggerated. I must admit I am not a huge Facebook user but looking at pictures, and talking to friends are things I do in the real world anyway. With Facebook I just do them online. I’ve never played any of the games, but there has to be at least one that requires some analytical ability. Plus, kids still have to go to school and work so I think their brain still has opportunities to keep it from disintegrating, but like I said this is all my non-science based opinions.

    • I would agree with you. The article is exaggerated and is based on little or real data, it is certainly made to grab attention. Facebook still needs to evolve and no doubt, there are some people that suffer dependency problems and need to be socially recognised. However, for the majority we tend to use Facebook as a means of communication.

  2. I grew up through high school on myspace and then facebook and I think I turned out okay! Parents used to have these concerns about video games when they reached their height of popularity, but then some studies said that they are better than watching TV. It is probably just a lot of hype.
    It will be interesting to see what results come of studies surrounding these issues.

    • Issues around Facebook are great for the media to report on. I also believe some parents fear Facebook because they are not familiar with its purpose or use.

      I would agree with you and wait for further studies concerning these issues.

  3. I like your second movie!
    I agree with Shortfletch in most of the case. Even though scial media affect to their real scial life, I do not think it destroy the brain. However, I have to mention about my story.
    When I graduated from University in Japan, I totally had nothing to do since I was planning to study in UWA. However, because, I had not passed the exam for international students at that time, I was not even the student of UWA. It means that, I was not belonging any where at that time. It actually made me sick because of fear not belonging to any sciety. So, I started to be on Facebook and Mixi. Talking to my friends on scial network made me relief knowing everyone’s life. But after I spent whole my week doing nothing but studying Englishc and internet, I felt really damm and stupid because I was not talking to anybody in the real life! Alos, I found my studying English did not go well either. I was lucky having my family beside me at that time but imagine no one was there, I would get much more stress and in that case, I think I became mad and scial network destroyed my brain.
    We are surrounded by internet thesedays but I think we also have to remind ourself that we are surrounded by many people in the real world.
    In addition, I passed that exam a month after I started talking to my friends in real life.

  4. Social media has its place, it is a great communication tool for keeping in touch, learning a language or just getting a point across. It should not be your life. The internet is a very useful tool and has its place in our changing society. If we, reflect on the recent events and how they can make or break a political system, then it is a powerful system.

    In this case, social media can be a means of support and in some cases hope for the future.
    I always reflect on the following saying “Everything is poison when taken in excess”.

  5. Interesting videos! Ok, this comment is not really about “social media”, but I watched the brain video with my friend who studies computer science, and I thought this would make a good learning point for us science communicators.

    My friend and I were both thoroughly impressed with the musical and visual aspects of the brain video. (I want to change some of my presentations into songs too! Hahaha…) Now I, being a biologist, was amused and impressed with the brain information in the video. However, my friend told me he had no idea what was being said and did not understand the information presented. I’m not sure who the target audience of this video was, but if it was for the lay-public or even a non-biologist scientist like my friend, it seems that it may not have been the most effective way of presenting scientific information to such an audience. If there are any non-biologists among you – what was your experience watching the video?

  6. Great post!

    Facebook in real life gives me nightmares. If somebody spray painted my wall…

    Also, I agree with yveee about the brain video. My knowledge of the brain isn’t that great (i.e. I pretty much have no idea) and whilst I liked the first video, I had to really concentrate on what was being said. I think it would make a good tool for students who were studying the brain (as revision), but I don’t think it could be used as an educational tool for people who had no/limited prior knowledge of the workings of the brain.

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