Is technology changing our brains

how technology is changing our brain

I found this article I wrote about 3 years ago on another blog and I’m glad I found it. It has shown me how aware I have become on how technology is changing our brains.

Before the ramble about how the latest technologies affecting us all, I want to clarify that I’m the biggest tech nerd out. I have laptops, iPads, Smartphone, Smartwatch, media players, just about any other gizmo that I think will improve my life efficiency and enjoyment.

My Story

The other day while waiting for my wife to finish from her appointment in the city, I had about 30 minutes to kill. I thought, I’ll set up at local cafe, check my emails, do a bit of work or not (watch some videos and social media). Off I went in search for a location. I was about to plug my ears up, throw on a podcast on and walk through the street on this chilly winter’s afternoon. I left my headphones and sunglasses in the car and thought, oh well, I’ll do without for the small trip.

It’s been awhile since I just walked around the streets of busy city life, no head phones, no smartphone, no sun glasses and just taking it all in. Looking at the rush of people’s lives passing you by and just realizing how disconnected I am and the everyone is with the world around them.

Seeing the world of zombies glued to their phones and not knowing where their next steps lead them. More concentrated on the ‘app’ than the person they are about to walk into. I didn’t realize technology changing our brainshow connected people are to their phones, their computers and how disconnected most of us are to the external world. I too am a zombie slave to the un-realness of technology and now realize how fucked up and blocked we are from the rest of the world.

I find myself waiting in line at the post office or a shop and instantly require the need to pull out my phone for some entertainment. Everyone else in the line is doing it. Let me block out the world around me like them.

Just today, I was waiting at the local BBQ chicken shop after my order had been placed, and had the urge to check my virtual ‘status’. As I was about to disconnect with the local chicken guy, the community around me, I mindfully said to my internal self ‘STOP’, take a look at the world you’re missing. Look at the environment, take in all the sounds, smells and wonder….yes wonder, ponder, not have an answer for every damn thing.




I’m seriously concerned for my children’s future glued into this virtual world. As much as I love the satisfaction of videos, music, podcasts and social media, I think there is a deeper meaning to everyday life. The education curriculum should include a section on how to disconnect from technology and how to connect with world. Is this overuse of technology going to hinder or improve  our younger generations development?

Reminiscing on my childhood, we watched a TV in our free time and as I reached my teens, we had a family computer and used to spend hours on it playing computer games. But, the rest of the time was spent playing in the streets and backyards with friends and neighbors. When I looked at the local suburban streets this school holidays and couldn’t see any kids playing outside all day, riding bikes or just kicking the football around. Are neighborhoods no longer safe? Or are these type of activities no longer fun for youth? Are all the kids stuck on their iPads or glued to the lounge?

For the adults with such busy lives, working long hours, taking care of family, trying to fit in healthy eating, exercise and quality family time, the ‘app’ gives those 5 minute breaks in between the hecticness a feeling of freedom and joy. It’s like a quick hit of endorphins via my Smartphone. But then we find ourselves sucked into this virtual world for hours before bed, and then grab that device as soon as we wake up, like an addict that requires a hit of the good stuff.

 

smartphone technology affecting our health(Exhale….) Anyways..I love living in the information age. I can find out just about anything I want instantly by talking to my phone and getting a response. We used to think, talk and dream about how to do things and now it’s all in a video. Is this stopping our personal evolution or brain use?

On the other hand I can learn so many more skills much quicker and cheaper. Even basic DIY videos come in handy as now I can fix something without calling an expert. There is a video for just about every bloody thing.

Some of the skills that are fading are things like map reading, memorizing phone numbers, handwriting, basic survival techniques. How important are these?

Like it or lump it technology is here to stay. I love it and am addicted. I’m using my iPad to write this post. More often I think, I would like to stop and smell the roses, enjoy sitting and watching a sun set take in what Mother Earth has to offer us. There is no app for that. Finding the time to disconnect from the busyness of life and reconnect with the world, if that makes any sense.

Moving forward, I’m going to try a reconnect to the world more often and hope others like me become more mindful of their technology use.

I guess some techniques I use to stay more connected to include:

  • Giving Technology a break from time to time
  • Have no screen days (no TV, computers, smartphones or tablets)
  • Meditate
  • Social Media Fastings

That’s the end of my story. I’m glad to see I have follow some of this advice.



Conclusion

Technology changes the way our brains develop in good and bad ways. Only the future will tell with long term results. As more science unfolds, we will know more.

Current science shows how the grey matter in our brains is effected by by how we use technology. The good news is that practices such as meditation can greatly improve this.

A massive factor is that technology is affecting is our sleep and not just keeping us up but ruining the quality of our sleep. Check out these tips to help improve your sleep.

There s also the factor of electromagnetic signals not just affecting our brains but also our bodies.

 

What’s your opinion on technology and the brain? Do you know how an techniques how to manage to much tech time?

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22 Comments on Is technology changing our brains

  1. Great article! I love this reflection…I know that I’m guilty of this notion of needing to entertain myself and failing to be ‘present in the now’ by being on my device and not enjoying the world around me. (Note to self: include more technology free time)

    It’s such a love/hate thing isn’t it? I love that technology can offer so many positives like a world of information at your fingertips yet it can be so detrimental for developing young minds.

    As a teacher I’ve found that kids these days are hard-wired for high speed. I find that my lessons increasingly need high levels of varying technology to keep them engaged with their learning. Over the years I’ve found that students are starting school with less and less attention skills necessary for learning and struggling with self regulation. I’ve noticed significant behaviour management issues increasing for classroom teachers. I think it is because children now rely on technology for a majority of their play. As a result, they are they limiting their creativity and natural sensory brain development.

    I think that children’s sensory and motor systems have not biologically evolved to accommodate the nature of today’s technology. Which is only rapidly changing and advancing. Scary when you compare the environment of children merely 10 years ago to children’s environments today.

    • Great input Vee. I think its not just childrens, but adults sensory inputs having issues processing all the tech.

  2. I believe technology is changing how our brains work in a huge way.
    From simple calculators and especially the more sophisticated cell phone.
    It all started with not having to do math… (Calculator)
    Then, computers gave us that extra connection… (More laziness though)
    Then, cell phones have given us “Super Powers”… (Be the all knowing)
    Soon, we won’t have to think for ourselves because… (A.I. is a Real Deal)

    We are in for a huge surprise. I’m with you and being a little worried for our kids. Hopefully we don’t screw it up for them. (We as in scientists and thought leaders)

    • Brain laziness will likely become a larger issue. If you don’t use it you lose it.
      I didn’t think about AI Damien, but I can see it may become a real threat to the brain.

  3. Interesting article, thanks.
    I always thought it was the other way around, namely that technology has progressed too quickly for our small monkey brains to adapt and that was the cause of many of the problems we’re seeing today.
    I agree that taking a break is a good idea.
    Interesting statistic: in developing countries, most people would rather starve than do without their phone – it’s that important to them.

    • Thanks for your input Derek. Tech over food sounds so weird but makes sense. Maybe it could be used to help people when fasting for health.

  4. Oh my gosh, you really hit the mark on this one. Technology has completely changed the world in so many ways. It is very concerning. I love my phone, but when my entire family is suppose to be watching a movie together and I look around and they are all on their phones, supposedly watching the movie, I feel sad. I know that there are many good factors, but I didn’t even think about the sleep aspect. I also do not think the next generation will even realize what they’re missing in terms of interaction and connection without technology. Thanks for the great information. I like your idea of a technology free day once in a while. Heck, I like when we can get through dinner without it, lol.

    • We were just out at a dinner function the other night and when we looked around the restaurant, we notice our kids were the only ones without iPad or a phone for entertainment. I think its important to tech free especially around the family dinner table and other family bonding situations. Thanks for your input Marie.

  5. Hi, Vince!
    It is so true! It really seems that way.
    I read some articles a while back how technology negatively affects the brain. I am glad that I can say “I am not an addict to technology.” 🙂 Some days or hours I don’t use computer or tablet (I don’t have a smartphone), of course, I love technologies and I can’t deny that. I often go for a walk outside without technologies, read books and meditate. I think we need to be aware how much our time we spend watching tv, videos and using technologies. We need to connect with each other and nature. I wrote a post about how nature can help us to reduce stress: https://howtoreducestressnaturally.com/2017/05/12/how-nature-reduces-stress/ I guess technologies maybe can help to reduce stress too, but nature could give us energy and boost our mood.
    Thank you for your great article! So much to think about…

    • Thanks for sharing your article Linda. I absolutely love it and it strikes a key with me.
      I think technology definitely has its place for health benefits with the correct use.

  6. It’s so true that we are disconnecting from the actual world around us and engaging with the virtual world on our technology. Studies show that people are healthier when they spend time appreciating in nature and when they have social lives. Nobody knows how being social on digital devices and walking around with our heads down looking at our phones will affect us in the future. I say better be safe than sorry, especially for our kids, and I agree with your suggestions of taking breaks, meditating and ‘fasting’ from technology for awhile. Great article and a good reminder!

  7. Great article Vin,

    I am like you, I love the technology but fear what it is doing to our children. I have a couple of grand kids now and if they get too noisy their parents stick an ipad in front of then to watch kids video’s on youtube. Instant quiet! What happened to playing with the kids outside? Going for a walk? Reading them a story. It seems to be a quick fix these days.

    I meditate each day and at work my partner and I have made the month of May ‘Mindful May’. So we are presenting meditation each morning at 7.45am for everyone at work who wants to attend. We have a different theme each week. People were resistant at first but now we have 8 to 9 people each morning and they love it.

    I also want to bring in a social media fast as you call it (love that) for maybe a day or 2.

    We are all guilty of too much social media and tech. Anyway we can lessen that, I am all for 🙂

    Keep up the great work,

    Kev

    • That’s great that that you have integrated meditation into the work place. I believe this could tremendously improve work performance and work place happiness. Just brilliant.
      Cheers Kev

  8. Hi Vin, reading your article is like me speaking to myself and agreeing on everything that you said. I guess we are fortunate or maybe unfortunate (depends on how we look at it) that we have seen the best and the worst of both worlds – the pre-technology era and now’s budding tech diaspora. I too grew up playing in the streets with my friends, watched TV on a rotary dial channel switch (with just 6 channels), answered a wired telephone, accidentally listened to a “party line”, and the list goes on. This pre-technology era is actually awesome as it valued face to face interactions, seemingly made life simpler and it gave true and meaningful relationships. Fast forward now, where almost everything is available and one tweet can be read by millions, and I must say, this tech blast is just starting, it is quite troubling indeed what its effect to our future generations. I really just hope that together with the boom in technology, families still balance the importance of face to face interactions and strong bonding. As for us, individually, I absolutely agree with your message that we try to look internally and balance the tech world’s distractions to our own personal relationship with ourselves and the world around us. I am very happy I am living in this budding tech world, but I am also very cautious on grounding myself and these same values I hope to instill to my children. Thanks again bro. Great article.

    • Thanks for your feedback JR. Its great to hear that many have awareness about this issue. As you mention 6 channels only, it reminds me how media is on demand now. Netflix and you tube at your finger tips not down the cinemas on the weekend.

  9. Hello, interesting read and can totally relate. I like my technology but it’s quite sad when you take your kids to see their grandparents and all they can do is sit on their devices. The older generation thinks it’s rude but I guess it’s better than them touching all their things and messing up their house like what my grandparents complained we did as kids.

    I had a good childhood with no technology and my parents still live in that era and can bearly use their TV now. I educated myself as an adult as I didn’t keep up with the rest of the world when it came to tech, and I guess that’s whyI make sure our house has the stuff so the kids can keep up with the fast pace of it all.

    But yes I think you need a break. Often I go for a walk with no music or noise or tech and just enjoy the air. I also don’t have the TV on around the family room just so everyone can converse.

    I am worried about the effects of WIFI on the brain? I heard it’s not very good at all. that’s what I am worried about more than anything.

    I guess we won’t know until all our future generation get older and sick and they see the effects it has.

    • I think WiFi will become what cigarette smoking is now. The unfortunate issue that in most places like work, schools, shopping malls, you will always be exposed to Wifi without a choice.

      At home we hard wire as many network devices as possible but its impossible to eliminate Wifi.

      Thanks for your feedback Rose.

  10. A very interesting post Vince that definitely got me thinking. I am myself a tech nerd like you but I don’t have as many of those devices as you. I am still though fascinated with how technology has come and what it will be like in the future.

    Every time that I go on my lunch break at work I see every one is on their phones, either playing games, checking Facebook or messaging friends or family. It’s certainly change since when I first started working. Everyone is sure glued to their phones.

    • Smartphones are no longer a want but a need, just like air to many. Its crazy how they have become so important in our lives.
      Cheers Owain.

  11. I have to agree that technology is changing our brains and taking away a lot of our time that we could spend doing other more meaningful things. It really is hard to unplug. I worry for my children and I am like a rollercoaster when it comes to tech. rules at home. One day I have them give me their devices by 8:30 then I let them have them for days, then back to 8:30. I am too caught up doing other things or on my own device that I don’t find that consistency. My kids are older, but it is still important that they cut their screen time. I like your idea about no screen time days. I will definitely incorporate that. One thing I have noticed is that technology also has my parents hooked! I never imagined in a million years that my dad, who was so anti-tech would become hooked. I mean if it can get him, then it will definitely get us all. We really do need to be more mindful and incorporate some of your suggestions. Thank you so much for your information.

    • Thanks for your comment Melanie. It funny you mention my your parent cause it remind me of my mum who lives on her iPad every night.

      Only the future will tell how it effects the world but its great to be aware and at least have some plans on how to manage it.

      All the best

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