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Is Internet Addiction Turning Us Into "Lab Rats"?

Why our email addiction is 'turning us into lab rats feeding on pellets of social nourishment'

Using the internet and an obsession with email is turning us into ‘lab rats’, an expert has claimed.

Nicholas Carr, former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, said that information overload is stopping people form concentrating on tasks as they search for ‘pellets of social interaction’.

The non-stop information overload also makes it impossible to think deeply in a syndrome has been christened Divided Attention Disorder, or DAD.

Mr Carr, who wrote a book called The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, says that our basic human instinct to search for new information makes us addicted to our inboxes.

Many office workers check their email up to 30 times an hour.

Mr Carr told Esquire magazine: ‘Our gadgets have turned us into hi-tech lab rats, mindlessly pressing levers in the hope of receiving a pellet of social or intellectual nourishment.

‘What makes digital messages all the more compelling is their uncertainty. There’s always the possibility that something important is waiting for us in our inbox …[which] overwhelms our knowledge that most online missives are trivial.’

Mr Carr’s warning is just the latest by expert who fear that the digital age may be having unseen consequences for our brain’s health.

Last month one of the country’s most eminent brain scientists warned that an obsession with social networking sites may be changing the way people’s minds work.

University expert Susan Greenfield said she believes constant computer and internet use may be ‘rewiring the brain’, shortening attention spans, encouraging instant gratification and causing a loss of empathy. ’

The neuroscientist believes technology may be behind the ‘alarming’ rise in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the growth in the use of anti-hyperactivity drug Ritalin.

Lady Greenfield warned social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook may hamper empathy.

Using search engines to find facts may hinder our ability to learn, while computer games in which it is always possible to start again, may make us more reckless.

'We need to take control of our own lives and society. If we don’t, who else will?’

Maryanne Wolf, a cognitive neuroscientist at Tufts University in Massachusetts, said brain circuits honed by reading books and thinking about their contents could be lost as people spend more time on computers.

‘It takes time to think deeply about information and we are becoming accustomed to moving on to the next distraction,’ she said.

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Answer Question

Asked by SavageGrl at 10:58 AM on Dec. 7, 2010 in Technology

Level 18 (6,045 Credits)
Answers (1)
  • Whatever!

    Answer by Simplicity3 at 11:00 AM on Dec. 7, 2010

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