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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Business

Adam Housley

Los Angeles, CA

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CES DAY 2….Overload??

January 7, 2011 - 4:46 PM | by: Adam Housley

Newer…faster…cooler…more powerful…more connected. That’s the world down every aisle and on the tongue of every presenter here at the Consumer Electronic Show. While we have shown you a ton of cool products that you can use at home and will continue to do so, we need also to look at the real possibility of digital overload and whether we are “dumbing ourselves down” a bit.

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We had the chance to talk to both psychologists and sociologists about the rapid advance consuming our lives, as well as corporate big whigs. Professor Kaveri Subrahmanyam from California State Los Angeles says “We know from brain research, for instance, that parts of the brain that are not used are lost, so synapses that are not used constantly are lost, we call it use it or lose it.”

And some suspect that today’s younger generation isn’t “using it”. With GPS, Wikipedia, Smart Phones, Tablets and Computers everywhere, who needs to go to a library anymore? Who needs to use a dictionary, or read a map?

“Typically I use maps and I’m pretty good at orienting myself in space but now I look at the screen rather than looking at my environment, my surroundings and I feel that sometimes by relying too much on my GPS, I’m losing that skill,” Professor Simon Gottschack at UNLV.

Then there is the social media thing an the change in personal relationships. Psychologists are concerned that when you have hundreds of ‘facebook’ friends, you might not have any “real ones”.

Professor Subrahmanyam says, “One must wonder if there are some effects on the quality of those relationship and whether there might be any long term effects on the intimacy of relationships that are primarily conducted via social media.”

But for high tech boosters and corporations, these complaints have been around forever. They do realize that too much of anything can be brutal and overload…and that every generation that introduces a new media, from the printing press to radio and T.V., faces fears of society falling apart.

“I don’t think there’s this huge societal trend of people focusing too much on one specific technology or another. Should you restrict what you put into video games and television and texting? Absolutely! Parents have a job. We do it in every generation,” says Gary Shapiro CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association.

Social scientists concede there still isn’t any definitive research proving the harmful effects of new media, but they point out the anecdotal evidence is strong…and for anyone trying to get the family to focus on dinner, rather than their smart phones, managing high tech is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.