(Newswire.net — June 2, 2016) — I watched in amusement the other day as my three-year-old sat looking through a book in the doctor’s waiting room and rather irritably tried swiping and then using an outward pinching motion to try an enlarge a small photo of a reindeer. The more I watched the more I giggled, until eventually I found myself in fits of laughter. It may have seemed funny at the time, but in the car on the way home I realised that my child was wired differently to how I was at that age. A good thing or a bad thing? Or simply something different?
It would be foolish to deny the fact that technology hasn’t influenced our brain’s wiring. A little something known as neuroplasticity accounts for the brain’s ability to take an experience and change its behaviour accordingly. The experiences which modern technology offer do change life and the way we respond, sometimes in a positive and other times in a negative way.
Phones, computers and similar devices allow us to stay in contact with friends and family like never before. Thanks to social media we have the opportunity to be part of our loved ones lives on a daily basis, even if they happen to be living continents away. Within moments of cousin Nick’s son scoring a goal in his first soccer game in Greece, we’re able to share in the excitement and offer our congratulations. We’re able to experience a snippet of the joy experienced – almost in real time.
Social media gives us the opportunity to feel connected, to feel less isolated and be part of a larger network than the one we’re physically in touch with on a day-to-day basis. However, on the downside, this can lead to obsession and what is widely known as FOMO (fear of missing out). The ping of a notification tone causes a surge in dopamine systems and our curiosity heightens. The more we hear notification tones, the more we want to hear them – a similar situation to Pavlov’s dogs.
Even the way we relax has changed. Instead of tinkering away in the garage, reading a newspaper or doing a spot of gardening, many prefer to put their feet up with their tablet and browsing through the news headlines, surfing the net or indulging in a few games of online slots. Whereas before, if we weren’t able to leave the house due to inclement weather or whatever reason, we’d be stuck with a somewhat limited variety of options to choose from. It is no wonder that online casinos have exponentially grown in popularity over the past decade. Relaxing when you want and wherever you want at the simple click of a button.
Pros and cons
While our attention spans have shortened and our memories deteriorated (thanks to Google most information is at our fingertips and doesn’t need to be memorised), our visual skills have improved. We openly share ideas, learn from others and explore new activities and concepts like never before. The one thing that still remains unchanged is that we have control over what we do, and as long as we exercise responsible behaviour, the pros will always out the cons.