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Digital Stress Guide


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The following guide presents ways technology impacts the brain, long term effects on the brain, and preventative measures to take against a digital addiction.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Digital Stress Guide

  1. 1. ATTENTION 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. MEMORY 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. CONCENTRATION 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. INTELLIGENCE 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. LEARNING 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 MULTITASKING 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. READING 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. CREATIVITY 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. EMPATHY 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. ADDICTION 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 more often. 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.