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Can you imagine your life without the Internet? The Internet brought along the thrill of instant information into our lives. What would happen to all the numerous Google searches we all do in one single day without the Internet? The Internet is one of the most widely accessible media today.
How the internet is changing your brain
In 2011, the Science magazine published results of an experiment where college students remembered less information when they knew that the information could later be accessed on the computer. Instead of relying on our brains to store information long-term, we now rely on Google to store the information.
Author Nicholas Carr notes that every time we use the Internet, it is like reading a book while doing a crossword puzzle. In his book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, Carr argues that even though people get better at switching pages, they begin to lose their ability to employ a more slow and contemplative mode of thought.
Internet use improves brain function in older people
Using the Internet boosts brainpower in older people, according to a team of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles. They found that key centers of the brain that control decision making and reasoning are triggered while Internet searching, probably improving brain function. Dr. Gary Small, the lead researcher says, “Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function.” He added that our brains are malleable and change in response to the environment. The brain is sensitive and learning at any age stimulates the brain.
In older people, a number of changes occur as the brain ages causing it to shrink. The atrophy and reduced cell activity can affect cognitive ability. Activities such as crossword puzzles that stimulate the brain help reduce the impact of age on the brain and preserve brain function. The researchers compare Internet usage and brain stimulation similar to activity doing crossword puzzles.
Digital natives and digital immigrants
Digital natives and digital immigrants form part of the generation gap today. Digital natives are people who were born into a technological world of electronic gadgets where laptops and cell phones are constantly used for communicating. This group spends over eight hours daily on digital technology.
The bright side is that the digital exposure is rewiring their brain’s neural network and improving skills of reasoning and decision. However, the Internet is diminishing their “people skills” including empathy. Digital immigrants have to work hard to accept the technology because they were born into a world of pocket calendars and letters sent in the mail.