Social media and video games making children regress to mentality of three-year-olds, says top brain scientist

A British scientist has warned that social media and video games are negatively affecting children's mental and emotional maturity.

Baroness Susan Greenfield, a senior research fellow at Oxford University and former director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, said that the instant gratification offered by devices means children are losing their ability to think for themselves and to communicate.

“What I predict is that people are going to be like three-year-olds: emotional, risk-taking, poor social skills, weak self-identity and short attention spans,” she told The Telegraph.

Baroness Greenfield pointed to a study by Harvard and Princeton universities which showed that students opted to give themselves an electric shock rather than spend 10 minutes alone thinking.

She said that the need for constant stimulation from our environments affects our ability to think and the author of Mind Change previously warned that new technology may lead children to have lower self-esteem and be more likely to suffer from depression.

Her advice to parents is to provide activities which have a beginning, middle and an end such as reading books or playing sport.  Reading is particularly good as it "gives them a better attention span".