How Does The Internet Change Your Brain And Behavior?

How does the internet change your brain and behavior? Recent studies have shown that continuous internet use can have harmful effects on cognitive abilities like attention and short-term memory.

Given that we often have to switch gears mid-job while online and that our brains are conditioned to swiftly shift focus to the constant stream of pop-ups, prompts, and notifications, this may impair our capacity to concentrate on a single mental task for long periods.

How Does The Internet Change Your Brain And Behavior?

That is to say, the ability to multitask and shift attention between topics is only part of what allows us to get through the day; the ability to sustain attention on a given topic is as important.

The digital multitasking we’re all so used to doing may have weakened our ability to focus for long periods on a single activity.

As a result, our ability to ignore interruptions may decrease, making us more susceptible to distractions.

Internet addiction has been linked to mental health problems, including despair and anxiety, as well as physical symptoms like insomnia and fatigue. How does the internet change your brain and behavior? Who are the most at risk and why?

Who Are The Most At Risk And Why?

Internet addiction, or compulsive internet use, is widespread and largely underdiagnosed, affecting people of all ages, educational backgrounds, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Studies reveal that young to middle-aged adults in highly demanding occupations make up a sizable part of those afflicted, contrary to our intuitive belief that this is more prevalent among young, unemployed youths.

Why Is This Digital Overexposure Potentially Dangerous?

This overuse of digital technologies can harm our social lives, as well as our brain function and state of mind if we do nothing to counteract it. It can deprive us of quality time with loved ones, put us at risk for “burnout,” and prevent us from pursuing other interests and activities that are important to us.

With more people knowing about it, we’ll be better able to spot the symptoms early on and provide adequate care.

The internet has both positive and negative uses. It can improve productivity and keep us connected if utilized sensibly. However, too much of it might diminish our well-being and hamper our productivity.

It Creates A Dopamine Rollercoaster

Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D., a neuroscientist, and psychobiologist, recently provided an evolutionary explanation for our biological preferences for internet use.

He used the term “seeking” to describe the sensation of actively exploring a new area in the hopes of discovering something new, and he was right: humans had been doing this for millennia.

Also Read: Past And The Present: The History And Evolution Of Robots

Dopamine is released as a reward whenever we go out of our way to find something, whether it’s food, shelter, or information on the internet.

One of the various ways the neurotransmitter dopamine influences behavior is through the reinforcement of previously-completed tasks. Instances where we experience a surge of pleasure chemicals include:

  • Engage in sexual daydreaming.
  • Get hungry for some of our favorite meals.
  • Get distracted by our devices and the internet.

Even though it has all the makings of a great time, we end up in a never-ending circle. Dopamine doesn’t truly make us feel good, but it can increase our anticipation of pleasure, which might make us restless.

Yet, when we obsess on seeking with every swipe, refresh, and scroll, we are just after the excitement of a potential reward rather than the reward (or an outcome) itself. Finally, this dopamine rush is a temporary solution that keeps us searching.

The use of technology increases GABA levels

Overusing the internet and electronic devices can negatively affect neurotransmitters other than dopamine.

GABA (which slows and inhibits neurons) levels were considerably greater than glutamate-glutamine levels in adolescent males with smartphone addiction, according to a 2017 study from Korea (which revs up brain signals).

As a result of this discrepancy, smartphone use has been linked to the following negative cognitive effects:

  • Reduced focus and concentration
  • Greater susceptibility to interruptions
  • Negative self-control.

Your Brainwaves Can Become Dull

2016 study found that smartphone push notifications disrupt one’s ability to think and focus.

In particular, the high-risk smartphone users demonstrated:

  • Decreasing P300 amplitudes (neurological waves elicited in decision-making).
  • Longer delays (time between a stimulus and its response).
  • Dismal overall performance on the job.

How To Practice Digital Wellness

The reality is that we will continue to utilize the internet for our own purposes (and often for work, too).

What we can do as individuals is to educate ourselves on the changing terrain, examine it critically, and discover methods to utilize it sensibly (i.e., with moderation) rather than having it use us.

Though these aren’t exhaustive, they provide a good starting point for developing more positive approaches to using technology.

Some suggestions on how to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of too much time spent online or on a mobile device:

  • Increase your time spent reading actual books, working out, and enjoying offline activities.
  • Prioritize in-person, and phone/video chat communication above online communication.
  • Turn off notifications so you can concentrate without interruptions.
  • Limit your time online by setting a time of day or week when you must log out.
  • Develop more effective routines for reading and filing your inbox messages.
  • Maintain proper tech etiquette by turning off or putting away your phone when you’re in a social setting, such as a restaurant.


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