Technology is a great invention. Practically, we have everything we need to imagine, know, and become curious about in our fingertips. But, there is an adage that “With boundless power comes with boundless responsibility. We are just starting to comprehend that great technology could also have disadvantages. One of the major concerns regarding this matter is what technology can do to our brains.
Similar to a person who can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, sugar or many other behaviors or substances, people can easily be addicted to technology.
The loop of reward-feedback.
The substance that motivates us to look out for pleasurable experiences and new information is Dopamine. Naturally, this is an essential function. Looking for companionship, water, shelter, food, and some provisions of life keeps us alive.
As a matter of fact, the expectation of reward is more encouraging compared to the reward itself. A study has proven that, in rat’s brains, destroying the dopamine leads the rats to starve to death with a food in sight.
Moreover, the pleasure-experiencing factor is another aspect of this system that occurs in the opioid system. Dopamine encourages us to seek while the opioid system triggers satisfaction. This reward motivates more seeking as well, and the cycle restarts.
How Does Biology Turns into Addiction?
What occurs with technology is much reliant on this feedback loop. We look for data, we acquire it, and then we’re encouraged to look for more info since we are temporarily satisfied. With technology, the satisfaction is less sufficient and the urge to search turns stronger. At some point, it is okay to be addicted to food—right kids of food that makes a sufficient satisfied feeling and enhances health), however the moment we become addicted to the social media’s reward feedback loop through text message, emails, etc., that is not helpful to us at all.
How can we tell if you are one of those phone-addicted?
Indeed, no one would love to accept that we are addicted to our phones. We tend to look at them since we believe that article, email or text is vital. Sometimes, that may be true, although there are a few signs as to when we’re in control of our usage of phone and when it is controlling us.
The following are a few of technology addictions’ symptoms based on addiction.com.
- Social withdrawal
- Being not interested in things that does not include technology
- Continuous updating of social media accounts
- Obsessive checking of text messages and notifications
- Relentlessness and anxiety when unable to use technology
- Feeling euphoric when using technology.
In our lives, the more we utilize technology, the less data we can store in our memories. Due to technology, we do not have to keep information in our brains but simply have to remember where to look for that information. Studies about cognition and smartphones show that technology does definitely cause what we call “memory externalization”. Perhaps memory externalization is not a bad thing at all times, although if our dependence on technology keeps us from remembering and learning from our experiences and environment, that could be a huge issue.
Rapid Fire Information.
Information overload can also make it hard to develop long-term memories. We have so many info going into our brains every single day reaching a point that we cannot keep up with it. With data from our laptops, smartphones, etc. racing into our brains at full speed, it cannot identify what is important anymore and all of that data turns into and out of the brain—no one gets into the storage for long-term memories.
Cognitive and Concentration Function.
Usually, it is believed that our attention spans are shrinking. Whether our attention spans are decreasing or not, it is only much harder to concentrate on a single thing when there a lot of things yelling for attention.
Also, it is not only our use of technology that shrinks our concentration. It is the technology itself. A study claimed that the presence of a smartphone alone, even if it turned-off, damages cognitive function.
Smartphones and other forms of technology do not simply impact what we think, but it could also be a source of health problems such as anxiety. The mere obsessive urge to check updates and notifications is stressful. Moreover, the anxiety of missing out when we do not keep up with our phones might trigger anxiety as well.
A study from the University of Michigan instituted that the use of social media and narcissism are interconnected. But, social media can be the fuel to the fire of having a narcissistic behavior. Moreover, even though technology can make us feel that we are more connected than ever, we might be more alone with this. This recent loneliness is amazing seeing young individuals are normally the most social group, however it does make sense if you consider that socializing via online is not similar as in real life.
Unplug Your Brain.
Smartphones can give you an endless effect on our concentration, memories, cognitive function and even in our social lives. However, they could also be a great tool for keeping connected to friends and family and for education, too. Too much of a good thing is not actually a good thing, hence, you have to take a break and set up constrictions regarding how technology must be utilized at home to make a big difference in whether it is beneficial or harmful.