Your partner may already think you have the mentality of a three-year old, but now, thanks to science, you have an excuse. According to a leading neuroscientist, Baroness Susan Greenfield, social media is having such an adverse effect on the mental and emotional maturity of people, that it is leaving them with the behavioural habits of three-year-olds.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Greenfield said: “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 said. Greenfield, who is also a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford, cited a 2014 study into the challenges of living without social media and other readily accessible stimuli as proof of her theory.
In that study, psychologists at Virginia and Harvard Universities found that students would rather be subjected to mild electric shocks than to be left alone with their own thoughts for 10 minutes.
So, the next time your partner accuses you of acting like a child, tell her to blame Facebook and leave you to suck your thumb in peace.
Alternatively, if you want to act like an adult about this, follow these three steps, devised by Dr David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, to wean yourself off social media.
1. Does it need to come out of your pocket?
Sometimes you just need something to look at; we get it, but by monitoring when you’re pulling your phone out of your pocket, you can begin to see whether you have a problem that needs addressing. “Most people are unconscious of their use,” says Greenfield.
2. Do you need an alert set up?
Pocket vibrations are iPhone crack. “Every social network update is drugging you,” says Greenfield. Turn off alerts for anything non-essential and block out times in the day when you can check Facebook. That’s “10 minutes after lunch”. Not “the afternoon”.
3. Go off the grid. Occasionally
Here's a crazy thought: how about going without your phone sometimes? We're not talking about whole days or weeks, begin by setting aside some time to forget about your phone. “One day a week, turn it off for three hours. When you go into a restaurant, leave it in the car,” says Greenfield. You’ll find you enjoy your steak more if it hasn’t gone cold while you Instagram it.