Everywhere you look, even where you’d least expect it, the internet is helping the world to run smoothly. It’s bizarre to think that just a few decades ago, there was no internet to speak of, and the world kept turning.
With the internet so ingrained in our day-to-day lives now, scientists find that the internet isn’t just making life easier, it’s changing our brains. So how exactly is the internet changing our brains?
The internet has caused real, tangible differences in the way we remember things, how well we can pay attention, the way we learn, and even how we socialize and interact with one another.
It Changes Our Ability To Pay Attention
Have you ever found yourself scrolling social media, with music playing on your smart home device, a game open in one window of your computer, and the wiki for that game in another?
Things like this seem like second nature to us now, but when you really think about it, it’s easy to see how the internet has altered our ability to pay attention and focus on a singular task.
The interent has changed our brains to multitask so effectively that we find it difficult to focus on a singular task, especially if it isn’t online.
The Way We Socialize Is Fundamentally Altered
Watching romantic comedies from the early 90s and seeing how humans used to date and find partners in the not-so-distant past can be jarring. Not to mention, in order to keep in touch with your friends across the country, you had to either make weekly phone calls or write a letter!
The internet has changed the way our brain thinks about socialization because now we can access other people within seconds, no matter where on Earth they are.
This has its obvious upsides, but being able to fulfill our social needs through a screen has damaged our interactions in person, making many people prefer to talk over a messenger rather than in reality.
Our Memory Processes Have Changed
Another way the internet has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives is in how it affects the way we remember things. In the past, important knowledge had to be memorized in order for it to be used often, but with the internet, nearly every piece of knowledge on Earth is available at our fingertips.
This has led to our brains not bothering to store simple things, like cooking ingredient conversions and directions to our favorite restaurant, because there’s no need to when we can look it up on the internet.
Children Learn Differently
It isn’t just our ability to remember certain details that the internet has affected. Children, and the way they learn throughout their childhood, have also been changed drastically.
With the ability to see details like the time and date right on the screen of computers and phones, and seemingly endless online libraries of information that be accessed with a quick browser search, children’s brains have stopped storing these easily-accessed bits of information.
This leaves valuable brain space free to remember things that can’t be found on the internet but leaves children in a lurch when they need to remember something and there is no internet to be had.