The environment you live in shapes the way you think. In recent times, technology has taken over many aspects of human relationships and lifestyle. It has affected how we work, how we socialize and how we think. Technology in itself is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s through it that many important discoveries have been made. However, it does affect the way our brains work, and especially those of young children. Technology may change it either positively or negatively. Read on to find out how the use of new technology affects your brain.
Negative Effects of Technology on The Brain
- Altering the brain’s ability to process information
Young children’s brains are still developing hence tend to be affected by the use of technology easily. The effect can either be beneficial or harmful; it all depends on the specific type of technology used and how often it is used.
Children who are exposed to technology such as the internet and social media platforms tend to understand things superficially. They do not think critically and are less creative than their non-internet using counterparts.
- Limited ability to focus
The use of technology has led to people having shorter than usual attention spans. Most tech users will instead skim through content than read it. The average attention span for a human used to be 12 seconds before the surge of modern technology. The time has since reduced to 8 seconds and below for technology users. Over the last ten years, the numbers of people with ADHD(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) has also increased.
Although technology creates an excellent opportunity for learning, there are so many distractions that hinder this. There’s always something trending; new videos are going viral, your phone is vibrating to alert you of messages. All these limit your ability to focus on any one thing at a time and reduces your productivity.
- Social Interactions
Have you ever gone out with your friends and realized that you were spending more time on your phones than talking to each other? Although social media is an excellent platform for keeping in touch with friends and meeting new people, it has turned people into zombies. We replaced face-to-face conversations with online conversations. Emojis replaced emotions. Children born in the digital era are at an even more significant disadvantage. They may never learn how to read social cues and may not develop conversation skills. This prevents their mental and emotional growth.
- Technology addiction
How long do you go without checking your phone? Most people can’t go a day without checking what’s new on Facebook or other social media platforms. When unable to check in, you become anxious and start to overthink. For instance, people get smartphone stress when they don’t receive text messages from their loved ones. Video and mobile game addiction have also become rampant among the young people in recent years.
- We believe we can multitask
The brain doesn’t multitask. It can focus on only one task at a time. However, with the introduction of technology, you will hear people bragging about how they can draft emails, watch the television and still make phone calls at the same time. Impressive, right? However, this is not possible, and you are only reducing its efficiency and ability to store memories.
- Sleeping cycles
Having trouble falling asleep at night? Using your phone or laptop just before or while in bed may be the cause. These gadgets emit bright artificial light which tricks the brain that it is still daytime thus preventing the release of the hormone melatonin which helps improve sleep.
Positive Effects of Technology on The Brain
Although there are many adverse effects from the use of technology, this doesn’t mean that all technology is bad and should not be used. There’s a positive side to it too.
The internet has provided easy access to a lot of information. You no longer have to buy hardcover books for research since you can access ebook versions online. People who use the internet are great at remembering where to find information. With the increased upload of information on the internet, knowing where to look for information is quite essential.
- Improved spatial-visual capabilities
Children who engage in video games have been shown to have enhanced spatial-visual capabilities; increased reaction times as well as having an enhanced ability to identify the crucial details among cluttered information.
- Social interactions
Technology has made it easy for people who are far apart to keep in touch. In the past, people had to write each other letters which would take a long while to be received. However, with the use of tech devices, you can communicate with a friend who is across the world easily through calls(both audio and video) and texts on social media.
Technology will continue to be part of our lives. We can only adapt to it to avoid being affected by its harmful effects. The possible ways to prevent the new generation from falling victim and suffering from thinking degradation include;
- Limiting the use of technology
When you realize you are addicted to it, cut back on its use. Refrain from checking your phone every few seconds. Lead by example. If your children are used to watching the TV all the time, limit watching hours and encourage them to go out to play with their peers. Set aside specific times for watching TV or for playing video games.
- Differentiate the real life and virtual world
Sometimes we are carried away by the virtual world created on social media and lose touch with our real-life selves. You become so obsessed with getting ‘likes’ on posts and getting many virtual friends rather than creating and holding on to your real-life friends. These are the people you could be able to ’share’ your happiness with.
- Do not multitask
Multitasking reduces the capacity of your brain to retain information. Am sure you don’t want to have the memory span of a goldfish, so stop multitasking.
- Stay active
Physical activity is the solution for many things. Get busy; exercise a lot; it helps to distract you from using your phone or computer. Exercising also improves the functioning of your brain and improves your memory.
Technology is important in our lives and will continue to change our lifestyles. It has many advantages but nearly just as many disadvantages. Use the internet carefully. Identifying the solutions to the adverse effects of technology will assist you to prevent it from taking over your life.
Sonia Bell a psychologist and a health blogger. She runs her site Smartpillwiki.com, a resource dedicated to sharing articles related to brain health. At free time she writes motivating articles and studies how to cure brain diseases. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter