Journalists are always asking me to provide quotes about how online dating sites, cyber-affairs, and cybersex are causing increasing rates of marital breakdown. I nearly always respond by pointing out that we don’t blame school parent-teacher groups when the parents of school kids hook up and have an affair, so why blame the internet? Then there was the HomeNet Study (revisited here) (Please Note: This study was NOT by Pew Internet – see comment below) a few years ago that suggested, based on a study in Pittsburgh which must be one of the most depressing cities to live in on Earth, that use of the internet causes increasing levels of social isolation. I disagreed with this particular study, largely because I had concerns about the research methodology.
Now it turns out that email can be bad for you too, at least according to a new study, reported by BBC News Online, that found "Those distracted by incoming email and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ – more than twice that found in studies of the impact of smoking marijuana".
The ghist of the study was that it’s not particularly good for your mental health to be constantly bombarded with information from a variety of sources. And that constant bombardment means that many of us spend more time filtering and sifting through the junk and less time focussing on the important information that crosses our paths.
I forwarded a link to this article on to a friend of mine who runs a Cannabis Legalisation Campaign at http://www.thehempire.com. He said "As usual the newspapers have blown this out of proportion. I’m not sure about the impact of email on IQ but I do know that cannabis only lowers it temporarily. Stop using and the IQ level comes back to normal. Though how you get people to stop using email is another matter entirely."
I guess we’re all doomed. Again.
[Related link: "is TV good for you?" ]