Social networks such as Facebook and on-line gaming are changing people’s view of who they are and their place in the world, according to a report for the government’s chief scientist.
The report, published by Prof Sir John Beddington, says that traditional ideas of identity will be less meaningful.
One consequence could be communities becoming less cohesive.
This change could be harnessed to bring positive changes or if ignored could fuel social exclusion, says the study.
“This can be a positive force, exemplified by the solidarity seen in the London 2012 Olympics or a destructive force, for example the 2011 riots,” says the report.
“Due to the development of smart phones, social networks and the trend towards (greater) connectivity disparate groups can be more easily mobilised where their interests temporarily coincide.”
“For example,” it says, “a ‘flash mob’ can be mobilised between people who have not previously met”.
The report, entitled “Future Identities,” says that near continuous access to the internet, termed “hyper-connectivity”, will drive profound changes to society over the next 10 years.