Does using the internet affect the brain?

Does using the internet affect the brain, and if so, how?

This is a subject for debate amongst scientists. On the one hand you have people like Baroness Greenfield saying that using the internet and related technologies leads to children having shorter attention spans and no imagination. On the other hand some people say it enhances certain kinds of mental activity.

An article in the Telegraph recently reported on a study which found that searching the internet can delay the onset of dementia in older people.

It seems to me that one of the key issues is not whether children are on the internet, but what they do there. I should have thought that if they are thinking about framing their search properly, and then evaluating the list of results, they are exercising the discriminatory and analytical parts of their brain in just the same way as if they were searching for information in the 'traditional' way.

It just does not seem logical to me that the medium itself should make any difference, unless it's being suggested that radiation from the screens is affecting their brains.

But it's something educationalists need to keep an eye on. If Baroness Greenfield is right, it would be irresponsible to promote the (over-)use of the internet in schools. And if the opposite is true, it would be irresponsible not to.