Is the Web Driving Us Mad?
July 11, 2012 11:27 PM Subscribe
Is the Web Driving Us Mad? (Newsweek, cover) Evidence wise, the verdict isn't looking good. The proof is starting to pile up.
The first good, peer-reviewed research is emerging, and the picture is much gloomier than the trumpet blasts of Web utopians have allowed. The current incarnation of the Internet - portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive - may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts, and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways.One idea is that
online life is akin to life in the biggest city, stitched and sutured together by cables and modems, but no less mentally real - and taxing - than New York or Hong Kong. "The data clearly support the view that someone who lives in a big city is at higher risk of psychosis than someone in a small town," Ian Gold writes via email. "If the Internet is a kind of imaginary city," he continues. "It might have some of the same psychological impact."Carnegie Mellon findings
showing that the more a person hangs out in the global village, the worse they are likely to feel. Web use often displaces sleep, exercise, and face-to-face exchanges, all of which can upset even the chirpiest soul. But the digital impact may last not only for a day or a week, but for years down the line. A recent American study based on data from adolescent Web use in the 1990s found a connection between time online and mood disorders in young adulthood. Chinese researchers have similarly found .a direct effect. between heavy Net use and the development of full-blown depression, while scholars at Case Western Reserve University correlated heavy texting and social-media use with stress, depression, and suicidal thinking.And impacts on kids
People tell her that their phones and laptops are the "place for hope" in their lives, the "place where sweetness comes from." Children describe mothers and fathers unavailable in profound ways, present and yet not there at all. "Mothers are now breastfeeding and bottle-feeding their babies as they text," she told the American Psychological Association last summer. "A mother made tense by text messages is going to be experienced as tense by the child. And that child is vulnerable to interpreting that tension as coming from within the relationship with the mother. This is something that needs to be watched very closely." She added, "Technology can make us forget important things we know about life."More in the article.
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