How technology is changing your brain
Written on the 5 May 2018 by Arrow
If someone asked you to picture technology changing someone's brain, what would you see? Chances are the first thing that'd come up would be sci-fi-style mind control beams. Perhaps you'd see robotic neurosurgeons at work (actually already a thing). Or maybe cyborg-like neural enhancements.
The reality of the situation is a lot simpler. And possibly, a bit more scary. Many forms of technology that we use every day are shaping the way we think permanently.
Start 'em young
However too much screen time can impede rather than foster development. One study suggested a strong link between handheld screen time and language development delay. Specifically, a 49% increased risk of expressive speech delay for each 30-minute increase in screen time.i That's why moderation is recommended by many specialists in child development.
Adults not immune
This impact has been studied from a variety of perspectives. For example, using a mobile phone whilst driving increases your risk of a crash four-fold, irrespective of whether a hands-free kit is used.ii It's not just the fact that they distract us. It's the fact that we feel so strongly about our devices, because of the emotions they stir in us, that we prioritise them over other stimuli. That means everything from other people, to tasks at work, to signs of hazards on the road.
Changing our language
In one ear, out the other
Some theorists also say that the internet is becoming like an 'external hard drive' for people.iv In other words, the idea is if we know we can always just look something up, we won't be bothered to remember it. This idea tends to apply to small details, rather than the general gist of a piece of information. So you might be able to remember the general plot of a movie, but not the names of characters or actors.v
What does this mean?