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'We're losing social skills, the human interaction skills,' he says.
'When you talk online, there's no eye contact - you can't see someone's body language or hear the nuances in their voice.
People also place highly unrealistic social expectations on a romantic relationship conducted over the internet.
'But the relationship can also fall apart very quickly, taking with it everything the young person has invested in it.
These are things we use to establish empathy with other people and they are being undermined.' To children who are naturally shy and struggle to make friends in the classroom or playground, the internet can at first seem like a saviour, not least because of the ease with which apparent relationships can be forged.
'It's much easier to build a relationship with someone over the internet,' says social psychologist Dr Arthur Cassidy.
She points out that virtual friendships are no substitute for those forged in person.