Why and how too much tech is actually hurting your brain

We live in a society that is glued to their devices. Smartphones and laptops serve as our lifelines to function throughout the day.

We rely so heavily on technology, both at work and in our personal lives, that we don’t realise how detrimental it can be towards our health...and our brain.

The University of Melbourne published an article in 2015 where Dr Andi Horvath spoke with researchers on how technology affects the way our brains function. She explains:

“Technology affects our memory, our attention, what we focus on and our sleep cycles. In particular, our sleep cycles are affected by bright light from screens tricking our brain into thinking it is still daylight causing sleep difficulties and that can affect our wellbeing.”

Brain scans have even examined how technology affects attention and focus in humans. A study using neuroimaging of frequent Internet users showed twice as much activity in the prefrontal cortex -- the part of the brain that is used for short-term memory and quick decision-making -- compared to those who used the internet sporadically. When there’s a flood of information, such as a lengthy article online, we quickly skim read and move on, as opposed to slowly taking in the information.

There’s also the problem of internet addiction. While it doesn’t sound like a serious health hazard, many of the symptoms, such as withdrawal, are similar to other forms of addiction.

A Chinese study found that teenagers diagnosed with Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) demonstrated widespread reductions of fractional anisotropy in major white matter pathways and such abnormal white matter structure may be linked to some behavioural impairments.

The damage varied according to the duration of the subjects’ internet addiction, which may indicate that the negative effects of the disorder are progressive.

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