Now that we can access almost anything
instantly, we devote less of our attention to what
we’re looking at most of the time. Research has
indicated that the average adult’s attention span
is down to eight seconds, as opposed to
12 seconds before smartphones.
With the understanding that most details can
be accessed easily through the Internet, we
don’t retain information such as phone numbers
or addresses as effectively as in the past. The
expectation that we can Google something
sends the message that our brains don’t have to
be so concerned with memorization.
With shorter attention spans, it becomes more
difficult for many of us to concentrate on a task
or information. Our minds want to flit around
from one set of data to another, rather than be
still for too long.
Research is showing that increased use of
technology is leading to an overall boost in our
average IQ. It’s unclear what the connection may
be, but neural pathways appear to be stimulated
by interaction with tech.
Because there is less emphasis on rote
memorization, students are learning differently
now than they have in previous generations.
There is a greater focus on processing information
than simply retaining it.
Digital technology has changed our lives,
but not always in a good way. Here are some
significant effects it has on your brain — and
some actions you can take to cut the cord.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BRAIN
From Digital Stress
Five Ways Technology
Impacts Your Brain
We’ve become conditioned to process information from multiple
sources simultaneously. Although it means we’ve lost some of our
ability to focus, we’re becoming better at handling multiple tasks
at the same time.
With so much information on the Internet, we’ve changed our
approach to reading. Instead of starting at the first word and
giving each one the same attention, we tend to scan and look
for bullet points or subheads to help us find what’s important.
Some researchers fear that our ability to think creatively may
suffer due to technology. This is because creativity has been
linked to memorization, a task we’ve outsourced to our phones
and other devices.
It’s believed that increased exposure to the Internet can dampen
our capacity to feel empathetic toward others. That’s because
interacting with people online lacks the face-to-face element,
and our diminished attention span makes it harder to engage
with what they’re saying.
Clicking on Internet links triggers the same dopamine response
in the brain as other pleasurable activities. This leaves us craving
the next hit of stimulation and has us reaching for our devices
Five Long-Term Effects
Digital Media Has on Your Mind
Five Steps You Can Take
Against Digital Addiction
1. START WITH SMALL BREAKS
Rather than try to go cold turkey, wean yourself off technology
slowly. Start by powering down your phone during meals, for
instance. This may make it easier for you to get used to living without it.
2. NO SCREENS BEFORE BEDTIME
It’s easy to scroll through websites on your smartphone in bed, but the stimulation
may not be good for you so late in the evening. Give your brain a rest by turning off
devices, including the TV, an hour before bed.
3. TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
Many of us have become addicted to checking our phones because it never gives us
a moment’s peace. Turn off notifications for all but the essential functions to
extend the periods when you’re not holding the device.
4. SET LIMITS
Most Internet-enabled technology today features parental controls or other ways
to prevent excessive use. If you’re having a hard time letting go of your tech,
consider using one of these techniques to control yourself.
5. PREPARE FOR BOREDOM
Technology has become our go-to whenever we have a free moment. Create a list
of activities you can do instead of mindlessly checking your tablet or phone.
Refer to it the next time you’re idle.