Several days ago I linked to an article, in New Scientist by Dr Susan Greenfield in which she argued that the brains of young people are changing as a consequence of their use of technology and, in particular the internet. One of Greenfield’s suggestions is that the rise in autistic behaviour could be caused by the excessive use of the internet by some young people. Her views have sparked a storm of protest by some fellow academics who argue that other factors such as better diagnosis explain the increase in autism. Greenfield has countered by stating that the excessive use of social networking may cause people to lose the capacity to show empathy. They lose the capacity to show affection by giving a hug as their interactions are largely confined to the virtual rather than the real world.
For the Guardian article please visit http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/aug/06/research-autism-internet-susan-greenfield