The Christmas and holiday period has come to an end. After downing work and tech tools to recharge, the New Year can be a time to take stock of what we are doing in our lives and to assess what changes need to be made to enhance our well-being. For some, this means evaluating goals and priorities, while for others it's a time to overhaul habits.
The internet and how we use it, is one such 'habit' that has been popping up in global media again and again. This cultural phenomenon is changing so many facets of our society, and emerging research is starting to show how it is changing our brains. Some changes seem to be beneficial while others look more concerning, and ongoing research is underway.
The following article, published in the Journal of the World Psychiatric Association, further explores this topic.
“How the internet may be changing the brain” is a recent review by academics from Oxford, Kings College London, Harvard and Western Sydney University, that looks at 'how the unique features of the online world' may be influencing our cognition and neural structures.
“Using the internet is physically changing our brains so we have shorter attention spans and worse memory, a major study suggests.”
“Experiments reviewed in the study showed that people who spend their time constantly flipping between short activities required ‘greater cognitive effort to maintain concentration.’ The endless stream of distractions were found to be physically influencing the brain, with those affected showing less grey matter in the cerebral areas associated with maintaining focus.”
“As well as making us more distracted, studies showed the internet is becoming our external memory, as we rely more and more on smartphones to retrieve information. However, instead of learning the new facts online, the brain instead tends to log where we found the information.”
“High level internet use can indeed impact on many functions of the brain.”
While more research is needed, discussion about limiting these negative effects is included in the report.
For more information on the impacts of device use on neurological development go to the 'Risks' section of www.sensiblescreenuse.org