1. Tech is screwing up your sleep.
Studies have shown that blue-enriched light, which is emitted by gadgets like smartphones and laptops, can suppress the body’s release of melatonin at night. Melatonin is a key hormone that helps regulate your internal clock, telling your body when it is nighttime and when to feel sleepy. Blue light can disrupt that process, making it impossible for you to stick to a proper sleep schedule.
Losing sleep has a number of negative effects on your brain. If you’re not logging seven or more hours of sleep each night, you might suffer from increasingly bad moods, decreased focus at work and problems with memory, not to mention a loss of actual brain tissue — all of which makes you less than a joy to be around.
- You’re easily distracted.
You don’t really need science to know this, but technology makes it much easier to get distracted, whether that’s stepping away from an important project to check your smartphone or flipping between multiple browser tabs without really focusing on any one. It has been proven that toggling between multiple tasks at once doesn’t actually work — in fact, you just wind up performing all your duties even worse.
- You can’t remember much…
Technology’s tendency to butt into whatever else you’re doing makes it more difficult to form new memories. As Nicholas Carr explains in The Shallows, memory comes in two types: transient working memory and long-term memory, which is more permanent. Information needs to pass from working memory into long-term memory in order to be stored. Any break in the processes of working memory — like, say, stopping to check your email or send a text message in the middle of reading an article — can erase information from your mind before that transfer occurs.
There’s also a limit to how much information your working memory can take in at once. Taking in too much information — which happens a lot online — is like “having water poured into a glass continuously all day long, so whatever was there at the top has to spill out as the new water comes down,”
4.you rely on the Internet to remember things for you.
People used to be able to retain really vast quantities of knowledge — like reciting entire novels, word for word — but technology has eliminated both the need and the drive to do so. When you know that Google or your smartphone can retain a piece of information for you, you’re less likely to store it in memory,.
- And you’re much more forgetful than you used to be.
Millennials are actually more likely to forget what day it is or where they put their keys than people over the age of 55, according to a 2013 Trending Machine survey. In a press release for the survey, family and occupational therapist Patricia Gutentag called out technology as one of the main culprits: “This is a population that has grown up multitasking using technology, often compounded by lack of sleep, all of which results in high levels of forgetfulness,” she said.
You can’t concentrate on what you’re reading.
Even if you’ve shunned all distractions, you still won’t absorb information you read online as well as you would if you’d read it in a book. And you can blame hypertext for that. Those colorful little links scattered throughout online articles make your brain work harder than it would otherwise, leaving less brain power to process what you’re reading. Even just reading on screens, like a laptop or iPad — links or no links — has been shown to diminish comprehension.
Research has shown that reading linked text “entails a lot of mental calisthenics — evaluating hyperlinks, deciding whether to click, adjusting to different formats — that are extraneous to the process of reading,” Carr wrote in “The Shallows.” And giving your brain more work to do makes it harder to absorb information. Text that’s peppered with photos, videos and ads is even worse.
9.You have the brain of a drug addict:Spending too much time on the Internet can actually cause changes in the brain that mimic those caused by drug and alcohol dependence, according to a 2012 study.
Internet addicts — most notably gamers who shun food, school and sleep to play for days on end — have abnormal white and grey matter in their brains, which disrupts and cripples the regions involved in processing emotion and regulating attention and decision-making. Alcoholics and drug addicts have strikingly similar brain abnormalities, the study found.
“I have seen people who stopped attending university lectures, failed their degrees or their marriages broke down” because of Internet gaming addiction, Dr. Henriette Bowden Jones, who runs a British clinic for Internet addicts, told The Independent.
Now that you’re properly terrified of the effects of technology on the old noggin, let us remind you that you do have the power to prevent brain drain and time-suck. Just log off every once in a while!