Is technology driving us crazy?

Recently The Age published a very interesting piece on the way technology is affecting our lives and our brains. There are several differing opinions;

”I see kids clinically who spend the whole day engaged with electronic media and it’s clearly a problem,” said Professor George Patton from the Royal Children’s Hospital’s Centre for Adolescent Health. ”During those teenage years when the brain is in a very active phase of development and learning to process information about relationships and emotions, there’s a concern that these kids are actually going to be wired differently in the future, given the malleability of brains at that age.

However, some specialists say there is already clinical evidence that behaviours such as online multitasking or addiction to Facebook ”likes” bear the hallmarks of medical conditions such as hyperactivity and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Richard Chambers is a headspace psychologist who assisted in the development of a program named Smiling Mind, where multitasking or ‘constant partial attention’ is minimised says:

”You can actually train this capacity to pay attention to what you’re doing, to watch the sunset, to listen to the music, to listen to the conversation or the teacher in class. As people do that the mind becomes calmer, levels of stress decrease, productivity improves and over time it can actually create functional and even structural changes in the brain,” Chambers said.

While Susan Greenfield, a neuroscientist at Oxford University

 has been the most vocal in raising the alarm on the shift from face-to-face contact to screen-based communication – a trend she says poses a bigger threat to humanity than climate change.

She argues that non-verbal cues such as body language and eye contact, which may be responsible for up to 70 per cent of our understanding of human messages, are not available to social media users, and therefore innate traits such as empathy are being diminished.

We know that the internet and social media are here to stay. However, what we don’t yet know is what is the long term affect of this massive change to the way we live and communicate. Read the whole article here.