The internet is changing our brains. It’s a system of distraction. We get the rewards of having unlimited information at our fingertips, at the cost of being kept in a state of perpetual distraction and constant disruption. A study performed by Columbia University showed that college students remembered less information when they knew they could easily access it later on a computer. With nearly half of Americans now able to access Google on their smartphones, researchers concluded that the effect is the same. We’re relying on Google to store knowledge long-term, instead of our own brains. Why does it matter that we don’t need to remember things anymore? Human brains use information stored in the long-term memory to facilitate critical thinking. We need these memories to understand and interact with the world around us. If we rely on the ability to look things up with the press of a button, we no longer need to store our knowledge, we lose the ability to use that knowledge to think deeply, critically and creatively.
The internet also seems to be impairing our ability to think deeply and to focus on one subject for extended periods of time. Psychologists and neuroscientists tell us that the interruptions the internet causes have a, “fairly profound effect on the way we think. It becomes much harder to sustain attention, to think about one thing for a long period of time, and to think deeply when new stimuli are pouring at you all day long”, journalist Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: How The Internet Is Changing Our Brains, said. Researchers at Stanford have found that the more acclimated you are to technology and the constant flow of information that comes through it, it the less you are able to figure out what’s important to focus on. Instead, your mind gets attracted to what’s new rather than what’s important. According to Carr, “Once this habit of distraction is developed, it becomes harder and harder to back away and engage our minds in deeper modes of thinking”. It’s not only a loss of attention, but a loss of our ability to control the our minds and determine what we think about.Tags: brain change internet