Melbourne: Digital revolution can cause structural changes in brains of children and trigger mental health problems in adults, experts have warned.
Scientists are starting to worry that technology while transforming the way we live is also making people ill, The Age reported.
"I see kids clinically who spend the whole day engaged with electronic media and it's clearly a problem," said Professor George Patton from the Royal Children's Hospital's Centre for Adolescent Health.
"During those teenage years when the brain is in a very active phase of development and learning to process information about relationships and emotions, there's a concern that these kids are actually going to be wired differently in the future, given the malleability of brains at that age," Patton was quoted as saying by the paper.
"They may grow accustomed to, and be more comfortable with, the kinds of relationships that happen in this electronic space," Patton said.
Medical opinion is divided on whether technology will irreparably rewire brains to crave instant gratification and screen-based stimulation.
Some experts believe there is already clinical evidence that behaviours such as online multitasking or addiction to Facebook 'likes' bear the hallmarks of medical conditions such as hyperactivity and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Larry Rosen, a Californian psychologist and one of the world's leading authorities on technology overuse, believes future generations will increasingly suffer from "iDisorders"
-psychiatric conditions such as narcissistic personality disorder, mania and attention deficit disorder, sparked by excessive use of social media, smartphones and computers.
He said the consequences of living life through a screen are already being seen in heavy users, who have diminished attention spans, impaired learning and difficulty forming relationships in the real world.
"Technology by its engaging nature is creating multiple problems. It encourages rapid, continuous task-switching, which means that we are only processing information at a shallow level and not deeply so we're not able to have complex thoughts but only superficial ones," Rosen said.
"We're also finding certain technologies such as video gaming produce dopamine in the brain at high levels, which our brain interprets as pleasure and that makes us want to do it more," Rosen said.
Oxford University neuroscientist Susan Greenfield has been vocal in raising the alarm on the shift from face-to-face contact to screen-based communication - a trend she believes poses a bigger threat to humanity than climate change.
She argued that non-verbal cues such as body language and eye contact responsible for much understanding of human messages, are not available to social media users, and therefore innate traits such as empathy are being diminished.


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