How Your Digital Devices Are Affecting Your Brain
Digital devices aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. For the most part, they are here to stay, and our world continues to become more integrated with them. Think virtual reality. You can now put on a headset and essentially, escape the real world for an alternative one.
If you don’t know something, you can literally ask your digital device - you’ll receive an answer within milliseconds. And for most people, their phone or laptop is an extension of themselves. Do you leave the house without your cell phone? Likely not.
While it’s great to have the world at our fingertips, are we missing something? There have been little rumbles here and there. But, can your electronic devices be causing your brain damage? Is it affecting your mental health care? Some scientific studies say yes.
Digital Devices Stretch Our Attention Spans to the Max
We are bombarded by our digital devices, or at least, we set ourselves up so that’s the case. I’m guilty of it - maybe you are too. I throw on the TV while simultaneously working on my laptop, taking breaks occasionally to check my phone. It’s safe to say the human attention span wasn’t made to be able to compute (pardon the pun) all of these things at the same time.
After about an hour, I feel mentally drained. Yet, I barely have anything to show for it. It’s unproductive, exhausting, and totally ruining our focus.
What’s the outcome? We end up with poor memory, small attention spans, and reduced cognitive functioning.
In other words, if you are multitasking or constantly being interrupted by technology, you aren’t learning the same. Studies prove this. It’s harder to keep your attention on the task at hand. In fact, putting away your cell phone or turning off that TV while you work is actually better (parents, take note here for your kids study habits!).
Technology is Evolving Faster Than Our Brain’s Ability to Adapt
The brain is a very adaptable part of the human make-up. However, it hasn’t exactly evolved to make room for this technology. In fact, technology is still fairly new. If you look at the a timeline of human history, technology is still a small blip on the entire spectrum. This could change, but our brain still hasn’t had that time to adapt.
We still need to work our brains to maintain our overall health and wellbeing - especially when it comes to mental health care. High incidences of depression and anxiety may be even attributed to this new digital age. In other words, we’ve quickly gone from memorizing all our friends’ numbers and actively working our brain to relying on our phones or computers to do that work for us. In turn, our health is becoming affected by it.
Everything is connected. Your brain is the ignition switch to the rest of your health. You need your brain functioning at its best to breathe, move, walk, and talk. For the brain to function its best, limiting technology isn’t a bad idea.
Electromagnetic Fields Might Be Changing Brain Structure
Don’t panic. But this should give you a reason to possibly keep your cell phone across the room - instead of right beside your head as you sleep.
Surprisingly, these electromagnetic fields emitted by your digital devices may slowly be changing your brain’s structure. How? They change certain structures of the brain involved in memory, motor function, problem-solving, and more. In turn, researchers and experts are indicating that it could potentially relate to Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive-related declines.
So, What Can You Do?
As aforementioned, put your phone away before bed. Try not to place it right beside your bed - at least charge it across your bedroom so you get some space from it. Screen time before bed greatly impacts your sleep quality and ability to fall asleep easily, and sleep is necessary for proper cognitive functioning. In turn, it helps keep your mental health in check and is part of proper mental health care.
Limit your screen time. Go outside. Participate in other activities - unrelated to technology. Move your body more! It’s important - your general and overall health needs it. Further, any mental health care article will tell you this is crucial to a happy and fulfilling life.
Start your day without your phone. Meditate or sit in silence and relish your coffee first thing. Don’t start your day by overloading the brain.
Put your phone away during study times and socializing events. I make it a point to leave my phone in my bag when catching up with friends. I might pull it out to take a picture. But in no way am I pretending to listen while scrolling through my social media feed. It’s not only impolite, but you aren’t paying attention. You aren’t actively listening and you aren’t fully there. Keep your phone tugged away and limit your distractions.
Find other activities to do like hiking, games, or other hobbies. Hey, take a weekend away in a remote cabin Airbnb. Experience the world - minus distractions.
It might seem like technology runs the world. Yet, there are ways to find balance with it without jeopardizing your health.
Technology Isn’t All Bad!
It offers an array of easy-to-access information. We can learn faster and gain insight easier than ever before. It is really cool. We just have to make sure we aren’t putting our mental health care or our overall health at risk. This means, like we said, finding a balance.
You only get one brain. It’s vital to keep it in tip-top shape, especially as you age. Practice working your memory (find games or activities that do this - make it fun). Quiet your mind once and a while through meditation or weekend escapes. Your digital devices will be there when you get back.
Take care of your most important organ - the brain. It’s what makes you, you. We still haven’t figured out how to download ourselves onto a computer, so protect it and cherish it. You’ll thank us when your 85 and can still recall all those great memories from your childhood and younger years.