YOUR BRAIN ON TECHNOLOGY
There is increasing research that shows that technology is effecting not only our mental health, sleep, relationships, physical health but it's also rewiring our actual brain. We've learned that the average age a child receives an iPhone is 10. We've learned brain doesn't fully develop until 25, so that is a huge concern as well.
Many experts have called this problem “electronic cocaine” and “digital heroin.” The reason: Dopamine and instant gratification. Dopamine is a neurochemical created in various parts of the brain and is critical in all sorts of brain functions, including thinking, moving, sleeping, mood, attention, motivation, seeking and reward. Dopamine causes you to want, desire, seek out, and search. It increases your general level of arousal and your goal-directed behavior.
Instant gratification is the immediate attainability of satisfaction and happiness. It is a way of experiencing pleasure and fulfillment without delay or patience because it provides a spike in dopamine without effort or discipline. With iPhone in hand, it has been called a mobile slot-machine.
Therefore, it’s easy to get in a dopamine induced loop. Dopamine starts you seeking, then you get rewarded for the seeking which makes you seek more. It becomes harder and harder to stop looking at email, stop texting, or stop checking your cell phone to see if you have a new notification. Hence, why people are driving, walking, sleeping, with their iPhone clutched tightly.
Another problem: Our neural pathways are being changed. The array of stimuli in the modern world – think email, flashing web pages, interactive video games – is distinctly different than anything the brain has had to adapt to in the history of human evolution. As a result, our brains are being forced to adapt to a changing at an astronomical pace. Just as pianists grow an enlarged motor cortex that is physically different from those of violinists, so do iPhone addicts cultivate neural synapses that are different than non addicts. In general, kids' brains are more susceptible to their environments -- digital or otherwise.
In mastering this new technology, the very function of the brain changes, so that what is gained in processing and responding to fast-moving digital stimuli is lost in the age-old development of social skills, such as reading and responding to facial gestures and body language. Dr Small, a professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behaviour at the University of California, Los Angeles, cites a Stanford University study that for every hour a person spends on a computer, personal interaction with others drops by 30 minutes. As with other, less complex parts of the body, lack of use leads to atrophy. "With the weakening of the brain's neural circuitry controlling human contact," Dr Small writes, "our social interactions may become awkward, and we tend to misinterpret, and even miss, subtle, non-verbal messages." We know that ADHD and social-emotional problems have increased in our youth as well.
Dr. Cal Newport has researched the impact that all the distractions cause and promotes the ability to focus intensely on cognitively demanding tasks; a skill he calls “deep work.” In a TEDx talk, about quitting social media, he discusses the fundamental mismatch between the ways we are wired and exposing yourself to stimuli with intermittent rewards through all of your waking hours short circuits the brain and has cognitive consequences. Professional success, he states, is at risk because of the large portions of fragmented attention. This causes a permanent reduction in your capacity for concentration. This impact on your ability to thrive in the economy will be apparent when you lose your ability to sustain concentration. These constant distractions and fragmented attention has affected the way we think making us less relevant and creative in the economy. We get paid to think and collaborate with others to create new ideas and initiatives. The economy doesn't thrive from people clicking away in a trance with what others have already invented.