• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Technology altering daily brain activity?

September 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Computers, smartphones and social networking are creating a technology effect on the brain. But is it for the better? A local brain researcher argues today's generation may be paying a price.

Many people entrenched in today's technology have their brain always in scanning mode.

UCLA psychiatrist Dr. Gary Small, author of "iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind," uses an MRI image to show the physiological effects on our brain and how much circuitry we utilize when we read a book.

And by comparison, an image of what a brain looks like when it's surfing the Internet.

Dr. Small says technology exercises areas controlling memory and decision making, a good thing.

"The negative that we are concerned about is the face-to-face communication skills because we know the average young person spends about 12 hours a day with their technology," said Small.

This revelation might ring true with a lot of parents. Have you ever tried talking to your child when they're texting, Facebooking or playing a video game? It's like they're not even there.

"I think we're losing our capacity for empathy, for talking to each other face to face and these are very important ways to communicate," said Small. "If you have subtle issues, if you have interpersonal challenges, it's hard to solve that with a string of instant messages."

Small says if you feel your life is getting too frenetic with technology he says it's time to disconnect. Designate a block of technology-free time every day.

Get outside and get some exercise with friends or family.

"We need to balance our online time with offline time and this is true for parents and for kids," said Small.

Small says it's too soon to know what the long-term effects will be of spending all this time on technology, but he does think it can impact a young person's ability to develop empathy skills.


Load Comments