Digital communication is prompting ‘disordered behaviour’ in staff and customers

Over-use of digital communication is changing our brains and will affect the behaviour of many young people, neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield has told the travel industry.

However travel can play positive role, according to Greenfield.

Addressing Abta’s Travel Convention in Dubrovnik yesterday, Greenfield argued that autistic spectrum disorders could be linked to “spending a lot of time online”.

She explained how the brain develops in interaction with the environment and argued “the 21st century environment is unprecedented”.

Greenfield said: “There is a problem if you are not communicating in three dimensions – you’re missing out.

“Words are only 10% of communication. The voice is invaluable to how we communicate. Physical contact is a really important form of communication. None of these is available on Facebook.”

She suggested future customers of the industry and staff would be effected by communicating overwhelmingly online.

A greater number would display “disordered” behaviour, she suggested, such as putting sensation at a premium, taking risks, needing constant feedback and displaying low levels of empathy.

However, Greenfield also said: “[By selling travel] you are giving people a sense of purpose.

“A journey is a mini-life with a beginning, a middle and an end. It can give you new understanding – a new idea. That is the most exhilarating thing you can give anyone.”

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