Psychiatrist and brain researcher Manfred Spitzer warns parents and educators
The neuroscientist and medical director of the Psychiatric University Hospital Ulm, Professor Manfred Spitzer, has recently written a best-selling book, “Digitale Demenz. Wie wir uns and unsere Kinder un den Verstand bringen” (“Digital dementia. How we drive us and our children mad”). Spitzer says that the too frequent use of Internet can make people dumb. He shows what parents, teachers and politicians can do to protect young people. Read the book review by Dr Rudolf Hänsel, qualified psychologist, Lindau/Germany, in full here on “Current Concerns”.
While Spitzer places emphasis on the social, neurological, and behavioral implications of over-exposure to digital media, he also goes into the physical consequences, but makes no mention of the electromagnetic radiation emitted by wireless technology. Spitzer presents a series of studies showing that insomnia, depression and addiction are extremely dangerous consequences of the use of digital media “whose impact on the overall health development of today’s young generation can hardly be overestimated”. He says that computers and the Internet do not belong in nursery schools and that this technology in the classroom, “leads to more superficial thinking, it distracts and has undesirable side effects, which range from mere disorders to child pornography and violence.”
What Spitzer says about Facebook should be widely quoted:
“The internet is full of failing social contacts which range from pretending to be a different person, to cheating and up to the high crime. There is nothing but lies, bullying, fleecing, aggressive campaigning, harassing and defamation to an unbelievable extent! Who wonders that social networks lead primarily to loneliness and depression among young users? Lack of self-regulation, loneliness and depression are the main stressors of modern society. They cause the death of nerve cells and facilitate the development of dementia in the long run. The replacement of real contacts with people through digital online networks may be connected with a long-term reduction of our kids’ social brain. In the long term there is a risk that Facebook & Co will lead to the shrinkage of our entire social brain. Viewed in this light, it is extremely disturbing that about a billion people are now Facebook users.”
In the last chapter of his book “What has to be done?” Manfred Spitzer stresses that the digital media are part of our culture, increase our productivity, simplify our lives, and are a great entertainment factor. Therefore, the debate is not about fighting or even abolishing them. But because of the severe impact especially on the younger generation, he advises all parents to limit media consumption to a minimum.
He writes: “Avoid the digital media. They really make, as has been shown many times, fat, stupid, aggressive, lonely, sick and unhappy. Limit the dose for children, because this is the only thing that has proven to have a positive effect. Each day a child has spent without digital media, is gained time.” He adds, “This is true for our entire society: We have nothing but the minds of the next generation when it comes to our prosperity and the preservation of our culture. Let us stop them being systematically littered!”
With the Internet world, the founders of social networking as well as the game developers have managed to provide our children with the possibility to seal themselves off from parental access and gain a distinctive feature compared to the adults, a space that they shape according to their own rules. As this space, this Internet world is potentially dangerous for the kids’ mental, spiritual and physical development, parents and educators should understand this insular world of our youth so that they are equals to them in the debate about it. And they should – because it is hard to prohibit to today’s teenagers anything and because nowadays they should be able to handle the computer reasonably to prepare for their future profession – try to introduce their children into the Internet constructively and more or less closely controlled depending on their age. Regarding the use of social networks boys and girls should necessarily be informed about the fact that if they reveal even their tiniest feelings and each part of their bodies to the world, they will become wares. They are commodities sold to the Internet with which the company can make huge profits. And that is not what our youth wants to be.