a personal appeal from
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales
Psychological effects of Internet use
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This article is written like a personal reflection or essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style. (July 2010)
Various researchers have undertaken efforts to examine the impact of Internet use on humans, inter alia through studying brain functions in Internet users. Some studies assert that these changes are harmful, while others argue that asserted changes are beneficial. Contents
2 MRI studies
2.1 Effect on traditional reading
3 Brain power
4 Effects of social networking and behaviour
5 Attention span
6 Effects of anonymity
7 Internet addiction and disinhibition
9 Effects on parenting
11 External links
US-American writer Nicholas Carr asserts that Internet use reduces the deep thinking that leads to true creativity. He also says that hyperlinks and overstimulation means that the brain must give most of its attention to short-term decisions. Carr also states that the vast availability of information on the World Wide Web overwhelms the brain and hurts long-term memory. He says that the availability of stimuli leads to a very large cognitive load, which makes it difficult to remember anything.
Psychologist Steven Pinker, however, argues that people have control over what they do, and that research and reasoning never came naturally to people. He says that "experience does not revamp the basic information-processing capacities of the brain" and asserts that the Internet is actually making people smarter.
Paul Bansal[who?] says that "Internet addiction can be a significant threat to one's health and social well-being in that it enforces antisocial behavior. The addiction can lead to the inability to communicate in the real world by depriving the addict of the daily practices involved with interpersonal communication. The act of using facial expressions or certain gestures to relay intended emotion or emphasize meaning decline as the addict substitutes keystrokes resembling smiley faces, or avatars. Socially, subjects become more inclined to develop personality disorders in which they identify more with their Internet representation than their real-life persona. Ultimately, an addiction to the Internet can cripple one's ability to maintain a healthy social life." MRI studies
UCLA professor of psychiatry Gary Small studied brain activity in experienced web surfers versus casual web surfers. He used MRI scans on both groups to evaluate brain activity. The study showed that when Internet surfing, the brain activity of the experienced Internet users was far more extensive than that of the novices, particularly in areas of the prefrontal cortex associated with problem-solving and decision making. However, the two groups had no significant differences in brain activity when reading blocks of text. This evidence suggested that the distinctive neural pathways of experienced Web users had developed because of their Web use. Dr. Small concluded that “The current explosion of digital technology not only is changing the way we live and communicate, but is rapidly and profoundly altering our brains.”  Effect on traditional reading
Nicholas Carr experientially asserts that using the Internet can lead to lower attention span and make it more difficult to read in the traditional sense (that is, read a book at length without mental interruptions). He says that he and his friends have found it more difficult to concentrate and read whole books, even though they read a great deal when they were younger (that is, when they did not have access to the Internet). This...