Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are threatening to dominate our lives, making us more isolated and less human, says a leading academic in America.
Professor Sherry Turkle, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has even branded the use of the technology a form of 'modern madness', reports the Daily Mail.
She argues that, under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, technology is isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world.
Turkle, who is leading an attack on the information age with her book Alone Together, even suggests social networking can make us mad, citing 'pathological behaviour' she has witnessed, such as mourners at funerals checking their iPhones.
Her book is part of an intellectual backlash in America calling for the people to devote less time to sites such as Twitter.
Other American academics have also criticized the growing trend of internet activity.
One, Professor William Kist, of Kent State University in Ohio, has cited the death in Brighton of Simone Back who posted her suicide note on Facebook at Christmas.
None of the 42-year-old Back's 1,058 'friends' on the site called for help. Instead they traded insults on her page.
But defenders of Twitter and Facebook claim social media has many benefits and has, for example, led to more communication for people who are separated by long distances.