Surfing the Internet is changing the way our brains work, reducing our ability to think and concentrate, a leading psychologist in the UK has warned.
Sheila Keegan says that its long-term use could even cause brain dysfunction.
"We spend huge and a growing number of hours on the Internet and, as a result, our brains are returning to shallow thinking," the Herald Sun quoted her as saying.
"We are being more easily distracted, and our thinking has developed a staccato quality that lacks concentration.
"The problem is so widespread that studies have also concluded that long-term Internet addiction would result in chronic dysfunction of our brains, which is a pretty scary thought!" she added.
Dr Keegan said US research had revealed some children as young as five spent up to six hours a day in front of a screen.
Lengthy periods spent alone in front of the TV or on the computer meant many young children were not developing the social skills they needed for later life.
"Kids need to have a good balance. They can learn a lot from the internet," she said.
The study was presented at the Australian Marketing and Social Research conference in Sydney.