Monday, July 16, 2012

Is the Internet Making Us Crazy?

In his Newsweek cover story from July 16, 2012 titled "Tweets. Texts. Email. Posts. Is the Onslaught Making Us Crazy?" Tony Dokoupil makes some insightful observations.
This article is not something written by some  "right wing religious nut" like me, but it takes a rational in-depth look at our society as it adapts to the electronic media. 
Dokoupil's article makes some seemingly "off the wall" statements then supports them with facts.  I believe this article could be the most important article on technology you can read because it is so insightful, easy to read, and has a number of practical "take aways" for parents.  My three favorite are:
  1. Be mindful of the time you are online.  Go on with a goal, accomplish it, and get off.  This will keep you from idling away hours of time.   
  2. Choose face to face conversation whenever possible.  
  3. Model good behavior to your kids.  No phones at dinner table, etc.  As parents we can't be addicted to this technology, we have to model good behavior.  
Just a few of the many keen insights from the article are:
  • "More than a third of users get online before getting out of bed. Meanwhile, texting has become like blinking." 
  • But the research is now making it clear that the Internet is not “just” another delivery system. It is creating a whole new mental environment, a digital state of nature where the human mind becomes a spinning instrument panel, and few people will survive unscathed. 
  • “We could create the most wonderful world for our kids but that’s not going to happen if we’re in denial and people sleepwalk into these technologies and end up glassy-eyed zombies.”
  • The brains of Internet addicts, it turns out, look like the brains of drug and alcohol addicts. In a study published in January, Chinese researchers found 'abnormal white matter'—essentially extra nerve cells built for speed—in the areas charged with attention, control, and executive function. 
  • A parallel study found similar changes in the brains of videogame addicts. And both studies come on the heels of other Chinese results that link Internet addiction to 'structural abnormalities in gray matter,' namely shrinkage of 10 to 20 percent in the area of the brain responsible for processing of speech, memory, motor control, emo tion, sensory, and other information. 
  • And worse, the shrinkage never stopped: the more time online, the more the brain showed signs of 'atrophy.' … And don't kid yourself: the gap between an 'Internet addict' and John Q. Public is thin to nonexistent."

It is worth your time to read this very informative article.  I encourage every parent to read this complete article.  The electronic world is not going away, so learn how to set wise guidelines.  Or as the tile indicates, you just might go crazy.  




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