Letters Response

Susan Greenfield replies to Vaughan Bell and colleagues

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h4960 (Published 17 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4960
  1. Susan Greenfield, senior research fellow, Lincoln College Oxford, and CEO, Neuro-Bio1
  1. 1Lincoln College, Oxford OX1 3DR, UK
  1. susan.greenfield{at}pharm.ox.ac.uk

A year after I wrote Mind Change, Vaughan Bell and colleagues claim I’m scaremongering about potentially adverse effects of internet and computer use.1 They assert there’s no evidence that “typical internet use harms the adolescent brain.” Tellingly, they don’t define “typical use” or reflect on the escalating use preoccupying children—crucial omissions given reports from Ofcom,2 3 the House of Commons Health Committee,4 and Public Health England.5

Recent research shows teens using screens for an average of 10.75 aggregated hours daily.6 Such findings raise the all important question: where should we draw the boundaries between harmless use and misuse? Change in brain structure and function in response to experience is a well-established phenomenon. High levels of multi-tasking,7 internet use,8 or playing video games9 are associated with significant differences in the anterior …

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