Are Hi-Tech Gadgets Turning Our Children into Cabbages? Surveys Say We Are Lonelier Than Ever Before
Byline: Sally Williams
CONVERSATION within families could die out as social interaction risks becoming obsolete with the rise of social networking sites and digital devices.
And a failure to interact properly with others could have a damaging effect on a generation of children raised on mobile phones and Bebo, psychologists have warned.
Parents with children of a certain age will be familiar with the growing phenomenon of the mealtime Nintendo DS - and their requests to sit down for dinner being met with a mid-text grunt.
But a failure to converse with children is allowing society to replace human relationships with a reliance on technology.
An academic study published last week found the average age at which a child is given a first mobile phone is now just eight. And children are establishing presences on social networking sites - including Bebo and Facebook - at a frighteningly young age.
A study published yesterday by scientists at Oxford University suggested such sites could leave children suffering from short attention spans, a failure to emotionally relate to other people and self-esteem problems.
The report, led by Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln College, Oxford, prompted the Government to concede its policies on Internet regulation had failed to consider the psychological impact of certain sites on young children.
And yesterday a study of 1,000 mothers, conducted on behalf of insurance company Sheila's Wheels, discovered a propensity to give their children lifts just to secure a rare opportunity to talk to them.
Clinical psychologist Linda Blair, author of self-help manual Straight Talking, said she had heard of parents parking away from the school gate to give themselves further scope for conversation.
"We are just not as good as communicating with each other as we were," she said.
"Our heads are buried in mobiles, laptops and on social networking sites because they are easy distractions, like crossword puzzles, but all the surveys say that we are lonelier than ever before. …