How did we live before electronic gadgets became an indispensable part of our every day lives? For millennia, human beings have thought, puzzled, doodled, and designed the creation of a vast number of inventions that have transformed our lives, from the wheel to the scientific devices launched to explore the outer reaches of space. Technology comes with countless benefits, when you think about the field of medicine, transportation, banking, and shopping and beyond. Technology has helped us save time and makes almost everything easier. Our phones are not phones anymore but are hand-held personal computers that can instantly provide the answer to any question, connecting us across the globe.
However, what are the emerging effects these tech toys are having on our overall health especially our brain’s health? Research is telling us that technology is changing our brain. For example, it’s made us impatient. If we send an email/text message, we expect an immediate response. No matter our age, we are addicted to our electronic devices. The same impulses in our brain that triggers alcohol or drugs leads to dependence on almost any pleasurable experience, such as eating, shopping, sex, gambling, or surfing the web. Some people panic if their phone battery dies, their server goes down, or there’s a power outage. What’s happening? Everyone is susceptible to the rush or dopamine euphoria (located at the base of the brain) that results from technology use … which is battling against the brain’s voice of reason wanting us to slow down and use restraint (located in the frontal lobe). Internet addiction is defined as the disorder involving 38 hours or more of Internet use each week.
How to we help ourselves disconnect for a healthy period from our devices? Try these suggestions:
Add-sleep-time: We’re all sleep deprived; this situation should not to be ignored. We need to change our bad sleep habits to fold in an adequate number of hours of sleep per night. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours.
Cut-down-on-screen-time: Are you compulsively using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Email, and browsing the Internet for ridiculous amounts of time each day? This behaviour is exhausting because it’s cognitively demanding. We need to discipline ourselves to do these things for short periods of time, and then be good about turning away from the screen to do something else.
Stop-juggling-stuff-time: Contrary to what we think, multi-tasking is less effective than we expect because it causes us to be unproductive and more stressed. We need to shift our mindset from multi-tasking to one-tasking.
Take-more-resting-time: Simply stopping to do nothing and to think about nothing each day for small periods of time each is very beneficial. Over time, if we commit to doing this, this habit will help improve our attention span and foster creativity. Wow!
Beyond these remedies, brain and cognitive researchers tell us that doing these any number of these things will help exercise our brain NOT exhaust it:
- Read a book – on anything;
- Learn to play an instrument;
- Exercise regularly;
- Learn a new language;
- Do puzzles and games;
- Do yoga.
So, help your ‘little grey cells’ by treating them well to live long and happily.