Scientists: Internet Usage Affects Brain Waves, Memory

John Lister's picture

Psychiatry experts say using the Internet could "affect our brain's structure, function and cognitive development." An international group of researchers say that as a result of Internet use, we may be losing our abilities to concentrate on a single task.

The theory has to do with the way many people access the Internet - particularly with email and social media, which often means getting a string of notifications that oftentimes demand immediate attention. This means people spend less time consistently working on one task uninterrupted, which then creates a "use it or lose it" effect on concentration.

The claims come from researchers at five universities across the United Kingdom, United States and Australia, including Harvard. They examined findings from multiple studies which explored this theory to see how reliably their results bore it out. (Source: wiley.com)

Memory Could Also Change

The idea was to bring together studies that uses different techniques including psychological examinations and neuroimaging (also known as "brain scans"). They also combined studies that covered different age groups to see if they were affected in different ways, and examined to see if the effect is noticeable over time.

The researchers concluded that not only is there evidence that the "Internet effect" is real, but that there are other ways the Internet can change the way that people's brains are used. They also found suggestions that having access to vast information on demand could change the way we store information in the brain.

The researchers didn't tackle the subjective question of whether this change was a negative or simply a more effective way of using the brain's powers in a changing world.

Effect On Kids May Vary

Although the researchers said both the reduced attention span and how information is stored are real effects of Internet usage, they also said that more research needs to be done to see if the effects are different among children with developing brains.

In the meantime, they said reducing the risks might not just be about reducing screen time, but rather putting the emphasis on actively increasing exercise and social interaction. (Source: manchester.ac.uk)

What's Your Opinion?

Have you found your attention span or memory abilities changed since starting to use the Internet? Do you think there really is a connection between Internet use and changing brains? If so, is it a problem?

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Comments

buzzallnight's picture

I think Psychiatry experts are a problem.

They are politically motivated and don't have any real standards.