How Digital Media Impacts the Brain




How Digital Media Impacts the Brain?

We will going to discuss SIX main impacts

  • 1. Attention

  • 2. Memory

  • 3. Thought

  • 4. Empathy

  • 5. Meta-awareness

  • 6. Attitude   


Digital media encourages us to multi-task, if only because it’s so easy to switch between tasks when you can open multiple windows in your browser or turn on multiple devices. But is this a good thing?
Stanford neuroscientist Russ Poldrack has found that learning new information while multi-tasking can cause that information to go to the wrong part of the brain. Normally, new information goes into the hippocampus, which is responsible for the long-term storage of knowledge. If a student is studying while watching TV, Poldrack warns, that same information might instead go to the striatum, which is responsible for storing new procedures and skills, not facts and ideas. This means it will be stored in a shallower way, preventing quick retrieval in the future.


Participants who had previously used the Internet to gain information were “significantly more likely to revert to Google for subsequent questions than those who relied on memory.” In fact, thirty per cent of participants who previously consulted the Internet “failed to even attempt to answer a single simple question from memory.” They also reached for the phones more quickly each time.

“Memory is changing,” Storm says. “Our research shows that as we use the Internet to support and extend our memory, we become more reliant on it. Whereas before we might have tried to recall something on our own, now we don’t bother. As more information becomes available via smartphones and other devices, we become progressively more reliant on it in our daily lives.”

Storm acknowledges that more research needs to be conducted to determine whether these findings spell trouble for the brain: “It remains to be seen whether this increased reliance on the Internet is in any way different from the type of increased reliance one might experience on other information sources, such as books or people.”


The study was inspired by earlier research on the public health strategy game “POX: Save the People®” which found that players of the digital version of the game were more inclined to respond with localised solutions and players of the non-digital version more often looked at the big picture.
Jordan Grafman, chief of cognitive neuroscience at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, explains it this way: “The opportunity for deeper thinking, for deliberation, or for abstract thinking is much more limited. You have to rely more on surface-level information, and that is not a good recipe for creativity or invention.”


“The lack of writing is reflective of our lack of clarity of communication,” she  say “We don’t see communication as an art as we used to. Writing by hand forces you to stop and think a bit, and it makes you more aware of how you affect others. Poor handwriting used to be seen as a lack of consideration.”

“When you write cursive you are wanting to connect with people’s minds at a deeper level, and as a society we don’t want to do that anymore.”

Some researchers even believe there is an “essential link between the movement of the hand and the creation of thoughts and memories that typing simply cannot replicate.”


Some studies suggest that heavy digital media use leads to a loss of cognitive control—not just a loss of attention, but a loss of our ability to control our mind and what we think about.

“One researcher from Stanford pointed out that the more you acclimate yourself to the technology and the constant flow of information that comes through it, it seems that you become less able to figure out what’s important to focus on,” Carr says. “Instead, your mind gets attracted just to what’s new rather than what’s important.

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