<Image the sleeping geek kitten – http://flickr.com/photos/nathonline/918128338/>
After Baroness Greenfield's analysis of how social networks are damaging the very brain stuff of teenagers, there's more bad news for social network fans with some research just in. With teenagers spending an average of 7 hours a day online, and engaging in constant social interaction with other human beings, it is highly likely that they will forget to engage with animals.
The results could be damaging for the whole of mankind. By constantly engaging with 'avatars' of people online which may resemble animals, teenagers will become separated from the reality of animals. Baron Brownose, a prominent opinion spouter, said 'we know that if someone has never seen a particular animal they will be cautious of it. What seems obvious is that teenagers who spend all their time online will find real animals either very frightening because they are unfamiliar with them, or they will expect them to behave like avatars online. We will see teenagers becoming aggressive when a dog does not reply to them.'
In just the same way that mankind became divorced from the reality of being a hunter-gatherer, which has led to global warming, so this schism will have profound implications. We know that stroking dogs helps people who are ill, so it may be that the future generation will be unable to get over illness. We also know that animals form an important part of language development – 'dog' and 'cat' or often early words for children. 'Computer', and 'Twitter' are more difficult to say and so a whole generation of children will have their language development blocked at this early stage.
But Brownose goes further 'there is an increase in allergies in society currently. We don't know if this is due to children spending less time with pets and more time online, but it sure is a coincidence. It could be that by living online instead of with pets will make mankind allergic to the modern world. It will lead to the end of the world. Even if this isn't true, a generation of children scared of kittens would be damage enough.'
Brownose reported how a park keeper he knew had seen a rapid decline in children's confidence around animals over the past few years. 'It's like they've never seen them before. I definitely think it's because they don't interact with animals enough when they're young.'
This will be no surprise to many parents who worry about the time their children spend online, and with this kind of hard, scientific evidence to back up their concerns, we will likely see more campaigns for 'more fur, less facebook.'