Experts differ on whether to blame gadgets to cause autism
Children’s relentless interaction with smartphones and tablets may lead to borderline autism disorder, warned Dr. Iain McGilchrist, a leading psychiatrist and author of The Master and His Emissary. However, there are other experts who believe the reasons behind autism are multidimensional.
According to Dr. McGilchrist, too much human-technology interactions interfere with brain’s developmental process and consequently add to the growing number of autism-afflicted individuals around the world. His findings were substantiated by experiences shared with seasoned school teachers, many with more than 30 years of experience, that more and more children are exhibiting traits akin to autism spectrum disorder. The teachers have expressed concerns over the rising number of such cases, he added.
Many children, some as young as five or six years, now face difficulties in recognizing facial expressions, understanding emotions or paying attention. Even a generation ago there were only a few children with similar limitations but the number is now increasing in an unprecedented manner, said Dr. McGilchrist. Several pieces of research show children are becoming less empathetic and more narcissistic than a generation before, said Dr. McGilchrist in support of his argument.
Human lifestyle has undergone a massive change ever since the invention of the computer and other related technology. Children are spending more time with gadgets and in a virtual world which do not train their brains to understand emotions by judging facial expressions. Virtual world games cannot be an apt alternative to outdoor games or games that allow human to human interactions, he said.
A majority of parents are also dependent on gadgets and computers. They find it convenient to engage their children’s attention with a smartphone or tablet while they do their work. In Dr. McGilchrist’s words, this situation is “quite worrying”.
However, there are other experts who have a different opinion. Nadja Reissland, a psychologist and senior lecturer at Durham University, said researchers need to know more about the background of those children who exhibited a lack of empathy. There is a possibility that these children come from a culture where they are restricted to show emotions. There could be several other reasons behind their apparent lack of empathy, she concluded. Other experts also believe that several smartphone apps for that are available for autistic kids actually help them evolve as be
It is ironic that only a few weeks back, another study posted similar findings to conclude that excessive internet usage contributes to high ADHD prevalence.