Wellington, October 15: The digital revolution, which is transforming the way we live, is also making us ill, experts have warned.
According to them, for the “always on” generation, this constant overload of information could be triggering mental health problems and what is more worrying is the emerging evidence that it may be causing structural changes in the brain.
“I see kids clinically who spend the whole day engaged with electronic media and it’s clearly a problem,” Stuff.con.nz quoted Professor George Patton from Australia’s Royal Children’s Hospital’s Centre for Adolescent Health as saying.
“During those teenage years when the brain is in a very active phase of development and learning to process information about relationships and emotions, there’s a concern that these kids are actually going to be wired differently in the future, given the malleability of brains at that age.
“They may grow accustomed to, and be more comfortable with, the kinds of relationships that happen in this electronic space,” Patton said.
With the march of technology outpacing research into its impact, medical opinion is divided on whether it will irreparably rewire our brains to crave instant gratification and screen-based stimulation.
Many believe that the benefits of the internet are too significant to condemn technology.
However, some specialists say there is already clinical evidence that behaviours like online multitasking or addiction to Facebook “likes” bear the hallmarks of medical conditions like hyperactivity and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Larry Rosen, a Californian psychologist and one of the world’s leading authorities on technology overuse, believes future generations will increasingly suffer from “iDisorders” – psychiatric conditions such as narcissistic personality disorder, mania and attention deficit disorder, sparked by excessive use of social media, smartphones and computers.
He says the consequences of living life through a screen are already being seen in heavy users, who have diminished attention spans, impaired learning and difficulty forming relationships in the real world.
“Technology by its engaging nature is creating multiple problems. It encourages rapid, continuous task-switching, which means that we are only processing information at a shallow level and not deeply so we’re not able to have complex thoughts but only superficial ones,” Rosen told Fairfax Australia.
“We’re also finding certain technologies such as video gaming produce dopamine in the brain at high levels, which our brain interprets as pleasure and that makes us want to do it more. Smartphones are also causing people enough anxiety that they are checking them every 15 minutes or even more, often to help reduce the anxiety of missing out on important information,” Rosen added. (ANI)