Saturday, November 16, 2013

Effects on the brain of the internet

Widespread of the internet has completely changed the world. We can hardly imagine our daily life without the internet. Thus, there are lots of opinions about using the internet.

Some people emphasize the harm of the internet. In Japan I often hear the opinion that internet search engine makes human dull and thoughtless. Others claim that much information available via the internet is incorrect. In fact, I sometimes meet a client who believes inaccurate knowledge acquired through the internet.

This article also warns the cautiousness of the internet use. I think the contents are well constructed.

Huff Post: This Is How The Internet Is Rewiring Your Brain

The author pointed out 4 cons. and 1 pros. of the internet.

Fact #1: The Internet may give you an addict's brain.
The fact that the internet using may cause a kind of addiction is generally recognized. Also I have an experience. But for my knowledge the evidence has not been enough established. Some biological research has performed to prove this phenomenon. However, it is more difficult to investigate the influence of the internet use than some kinds of drugs such as methamphetamine. Further study is needed. Nonetheless, I believe that the mechanism of addiction related some particular behaviors will be clarified in the future.

Fact #2: You may feel more lonely and jealous.
This is a little surprising side effect of the internet.  Most people using the internet want to connect with other people. It is ironic that they feel lonely due to the internet.
I guess this phenomenon is related to the rise of social network service (SNS), especially real-name SNSs such as Facebook. This type of services  lets the users know the real activity of the others. Then we have to compare with each other. It makes jealousy or other negative emotions. It is quite natural that human relationship often makes us tired.

Fact #3: Internet use may heighten suicide risk in certain teens.
This is a quite controversial matter. The internet lets us obtain vast information. It includes harmful topics.
Some people claim that regulation of the internet access is required for the youth. I partially agree with this opinion. However, it is also essential for the youth to get accustomed to the dangerousness. There is no way to get rid of all harmful information. The internet resembles a knife. Both are beneficial, meanwhile harmful too.

Fact #4: Memory problems may be more likely.
I cannot agree with this part. In fact most knowledge from internet surfing will be lost immediately. But there are many people utilizing internet learning effectively. This difference may depend on the level of concentration. In general, the more information we are given, the more strengthen the connection of the synapses is. It will enhance the ability of memorization.

Fact #5: But it's not all bad -- in moderation, the Internet can actually boost brain function.
I am also doubtful about this conclusion. The research the author refers compares the brain activities during reading a book and internet searching. Actually, the two conditions differ from each other. A display monitor is much brighter than a book. There are lots of meaningless stimuli on the screen while internet searching. I can hardly accept that these stimulations would be beneficial for our brain.

After all, the influence of the internet on the brain is not exactly identified. It is not a point that we determine whether internet is beneficial or harmful. We have to be wise users of the internet.

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