Group Of Teenagers Sharing Text Message On Mobile Phones
Sofia Adamson

“We’re all pawns in a grand experiment to be manipulated by digital stimuli to which no one has given explicit consent.” 
~ Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin ~

Does it ever make you wonder why so many people have a difficult time concentrating, suffer from sleep problems, and are becoming more anxious? Scientists from all fields, including neurologists and human behaviour experts, are examining how digital technology affects the brain. Many are realising that it may be a bigger problem than we think.

Companies, such as Google and Facebook, are very good at effectively employing psychological tactics that easily snag our attention. This keeps many of us glued to our digital devices, whether we like it or not. Yet researchers are now realising that because of digital tech, our brains and general wellbeing are starting to suffer.

This is especially noticeable when you look at children and young adults. These younger generations have become so addicted to their digital technologies that many have a difficult time taking several hours off from their devices, never mind a few days.

Let’s take a look at what four experts have to say when it comes to technology and the effect that it’s having on the brain. Perhaps these words will shed some light on the importance on being mindful of your technology usage.

Smartphones and EMF Effects

Because digital technology is so new, we do not yet really understand the potential risks associated with smartphones and wireless networks. But considering that most of us cannot do without our smartphones, taking precautionary measures, such as using a device that helps diminish the effects of EMFs, could be quite important.

Paul Murphy, Alzheimer’s researcher in the department of molecular and cellular biochemistry at the University of Kentucky, states:

Neurodegenerative diseases take decades to develop, and widespread use of electronic devices like smartphones, etc. are still a relatively recent thing. So the scary way to look at this is that we are conducting a risky experiment with some potentially serious public health consequences, and we won’t know for another decade or so if we’ve made some terrible mistakes.

Digital Tech and Happiness

It’s true that most of our lives have been invaded by technology, with most us not realising the potential addictive nature of these technologies.

Moreover, what we actually do on our digital devices may actually harm us and our children. Digital media has become such a big part of our lives that it can have a very strong impact on how happy we feel. Further, it can lead to stress, anxiety and sleeplessness.

Susanne Baumgartner, Center for Research on Children, Adolescents, and the Media, University of Amsterdam, states:

We find in our studies that adolescents [in the Netherlands] who engage in media multi-tasking more frequently report more sleep problems and more attention problems. They also show lower academic performance. When looking at sleep problems, we found that stress related to social media use was a better indicator of sleep problems than the amount of social media use.

New Type of Mind Control

Regardless of our willingness to limit the use of digital devices, we aren’t always in control. Have you ever gotten on Facebook or Instagram to check one thing, and 30 minutes later you were still scrolling through endless photos? This happens because companies that created these technologies are very keen to keep us consuming as much digital media as possible. So, they are willing to use every psychological trick in the book.

Richard Davidson, neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin Madison and founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds, says:

Our attention is being captured by devices rather than being voluntarily regulated. We are like a sailor without a rudder on the ocean – pushed and pulled by the digital stimuli to which we are exposed rather than by the intentional direction of our own mind.

How Digital Technology Affects the Brain

This makes one wonder. If consuming digital media causes sleep problems, creates stress, and is taking over our thoughts, what are some other neurological impacts? Many scientists are researching this question, and many say there’s a potential negative effect on cognitive capacity. Yet, at this early stage of digital technology adoption, most research is far from being conclusive.

Anthony Wagner, chair of the department of psychology at Stanford, states:

The science tells us that there is a negative relationship between using more media simultaneously and working memory capacity. And we know working memory capacity correlates with language comprehension, academic performance, and a whole host of outcome variables that we care about.

*This is an edited version of the full article which you can read on the below website.