Moderate Internet use does not harm teenage brains
A review of more than a hundred published studies of typical computer use among adolescents suggests that moderate Internet use does not appear to adversely affect the development of teenage brains.
The findings undermine the arguments put forward by some prominent commentators such as the Oxford neuroscientist Susan Greenfield who believe that children are being damaged by prolonged exposure to the virtual world of cyberspace, the Independent reported.
However, the author of the latest study emphasised that although she could not find evidence to support Professor Greenfield's hypothesis, there has not been enough research to prove that typical Internet use is harmless to the developing adolescent brain.
Kathryn Mills of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London said that it's unclear as to how typical Internet use is affecting the adolescent brain.
She said that many of the studies look at individuals with problematic Internet use and not many look at the majority of the population, as over 95 percent of adolescents do not have problematic Internet use.
The review analysed 134 published studies on adolescent brains and moderate or typical Internet use. It deliberately ignored studies involving heavy Internet use involving teenagers that had developed a recognised psychological problem associated with prolonged exposure to the internet.
Mills said that she also ignored the effect of late-night Internet or computer video games on sleeping patterns among adolescents, which has been a concern to teachers complaining that some pupils are too tired to concentrate on their schoolwork.
However, she did find that some studies showed a positive benefit of Internet use, particularly if it was linked with educational research, sports clubs or social networking.
The study is published in the journal Trends in Neuroscience.
(Posted on 21-05-2014)
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