first_imgShe advances no evidence which might support the conclusion that there is an association between computer games and the ability to empathise with real-life mortality.Greenfield has appeared in the media this week, detailing fresh concerns that excessive use of computer games “may be fuelling the obesity crisis in today’s world.” Greenfield this week told press that our increasing dependence on computers could also encourage obesity, not only through lack of exercise but through “changing the workings of the brain” by allowing people to take actions without consequences.“While a child who falls out of a tree will quickly learn not to repeat the mistake, someone who goes wrong on a computer game will just keep playing,” she said, claiming the effect on eating habits could be similar. “Anyone eating knows the consequences but somehow the thrill of that experience will trump the consequences.”Several influential scientific writers voiced opposition to Greenfield”s latest claims. Medical columnist Ben Goldacre said her views lacked support, arguing that “experimentation in a safe environment” was a natural way for human beings to learn.Some students also expressed doubt over Greenfield”s claims. Christopher Morgan, a biochemist hoping to specialise in Neurology, said he felt computer games could help people learn from their mistakes. “I believe that one learns far more from mistakes learnt in computer games, since one often has the chance the remedy them immediately. “Oxford Science Society president Devaki Raj said that more proof was needed before Greenfield’s views could be considered scientifically valid. “An important aspect of science is the sifting of evidence, and so any controversial claims should be treated with the greatest vigilance.”“Without assessing the evidence and comparing independent research it would be unreasonable to forward any opinion. Whilst a link between obesity and computer usage may be well-established, further support as to causation is required before the claim can be accepted as fact rather than theory.”However, she was keen to distance herself from her portrayal in the media, stating “I can’t help what the media does with what I say.” Baroness Susan Greenfield has stated that social-networking sites and computer games can alter the brain and increase the risk of autism, in an interview with Cherwell.The director of the Royal Institution and a Professor of Pharmacology at Lincoln college attracted media attention in February after an address to the House of Lords in which she argued that “real-life conversations … require a sensitivity to voice tone, body language and perhaps pheromones. None of these skills are required chatting on a social networking site.”Elaborating for Cherwell, she explained, “What I’m saying is that we know the environment alters the brain, and so if the environment changes and we spend more time in two dimensions, the brain will change too.”Greenfield went on to point out a correlation with autism diagnoses. “We also know that there is an increase in autism, and there has been a three-fold increase in prescriptions for Ritalin [a drug prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity, disorder or ADHD] in the last ten years.”Most autistic children can be diagnosed by the age of three, but Greenfield did not feel her hypothesis was affected by this, saying, “Children do use the screen before they’re three.” She blamed online activity for making existing tendencies worse.Greenfield was quick to retreat when asked whether she believed that Internet use directly caused autism: “I’m not saying that because autistic people are comfortable, you’re going to be autistic if you use the screen, of course not, but I’m saying the kinds of activities and the types of issues that are at stake are perhaps similar.”She further explained, “The problems for young people begin because these games lead them to believe there are no consequences to their actions. They knife someone to death and then they bring them back to life. Everything is reversible. They see their victim on screen covered in red. In real life, that is blood, and they couldn’t just make it disappear at the click of a switch to bring the person back.”last_img read more