How the Internet may be changing the Brain

Posted on June 17, 2019

It is found that the high levels of Internet use could indeed impact on many functions of the brain. For example, the never-ending streams of notifications from the Internet encourages us towards constantly holding a divided attention – which may decrease our capacity for maintaining concentration on a single task. Furthermore, with most of the world’s information at our fingertips, thanks to the internet– this would potentially affect our brain system in the way we store or value facts and knowledge.

Unsurprising, the adoption of these online technologies and social media has been an increasing concern for many teachers and parents. The World Health Organization 2018 guidelines recommended that young children aged 2-5 years should be exposed to one hour per day, or less, of screen time. However, the report also found that most of the research examining the effects of the internet has been conducted in adults. Therefore, more research is needed to determine the benefits and drawbacks of internet use in young people.

Dr Firth says that although more research is needed, avoiding the potential negative effects could be as simple as ensuring that children are not missing out on crucial developmental activities like social interactions and exercises. Professor Jerome Sarris, Deputy Director and Director of Research at NICM Health Research Institute further supports Dr Firth that the bombardment of stimuli via the internet and its resultant divided attention commonly experienced presents a range of concerns.

Furthermore, with the increasing #instagramification of society, it can alter both the structure and functioning of the brain, while potentially also altering our social fabric.
To minimize the potential adverse effects of high-intensity multi-tasking internet usage – mindfulness and focus practice, along with the use of ‘internet hygiene’ techniques (e.g., reducing online multi-tasking, engaging is more-in-person interactions) can be used as countermeasures.

Dr Firth adds that the internet has drastically altered the opportunity for social interactions and the contexts within which social relationships can take place. Hence, it is important to understand the potential for the online world to alter our social functioning and determine the changes to our social behavior.

Category(s):Addictions, Social Isolation

Source material from Science Daily

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