10 ways technology is changing you

By 6th Nov 2017 No Comments

Whilst technology has many benefits, it’s not without negative effects. Particularly, when it comes to technology we use in our daily routines.

The Echo Chamber Effect

One would think with its name being “Social Media” that it would bring people together. In actual fact, the opposite is true. Digital Media tends to use algorithms to only show you what interests you.  As a result, users need to go out of their way to seek conflicting and interesting opinions, and most don’t. Interactions between the sides usually only comes in the form of conflict. This has become known as a “filter bubble,” in which those who get their news mostly from social media are rarely presented with challenging perspectives.


A great many factors have contributed to the global increase in obesity. One could correlate this with the growth in mobile tech. A wide-ranging study by US-based Milken Institute looked at obesity rates in 27 countries and came up with a surprisingly consistent number: For every 10 percent increase in the amount a country spends on tech devices, there is a 1 percent bump in obesity rates.

Our attention span is shorter

While it may come as no surprise that the fast-paced consumption of digital media has resulted in a shorter average attention span, a Canadian research project funded by Microsoft likewise puts this into sharp perspective. Using detailed surveys and EEG brain scans, the attention spans of over 2,000 Canadians were measured twice—once in 2000, roughly at the beginning of the mobile era, and once in 2015.

The result: The average attention span had dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds—an astonishing erosion of one-third of our attention span in only 15 years.

Our patience is wearing thin

The rise of fibre internet and on-demand services such as YouTube has caused us to live in a culture of impatience.

One UMass Amherst study looked at the viewing habits of over six million Internet users to determine how long the average viewer would wait for a video to load. The answer: two seconds, after which viewers began to abandon the video in droves.

The effect is bleeding over into real life. More and more large retailers are offering same-day delivery services while mobile apps aimed at reducing wait times for dinner reservations or cab rides are exploding in popularity.

GPS affects your brain

GPS is one of the technologies that has become integral to our commuting. Have you ever arrived at work or home forgetting how you got there?

Researchers at McGill University have presented three studies which suggest that overreliance on GPS can actually be detrimental to long-term memory as we age.

This is because the hippocampus, the area of the brain which controls memory, is also associated with spatial navigation. Researchers found a higher physical volume of gray matter—and increased activity—in the hippocampus in their subjects who relied mainly on spatial navigation rather than GPS.

We’re less creative

It’s easy to think that the amount of information online would grow creative thinking, however the opposite appears to be true.

Johns Hopkins and University of Illinois researchers recently conducted a study examining the effects of abundance on creativity and found that abundant resources actually lead to less creative thought. When resources are scarce, they are used more creatively.

Smartphones change how you sleep

Humans are wired to know when to sleep and when to wake by the quality of ambient light. “Red” light, the type seen at dusk, signals the body that it is nighttime while “blue” light is the signal that it’s time to wake up.

This “blue” light is obviously seen in the morning—and is also emitted by smartphones and tablets. This suppresses melatonin, a sleep-promoting chemical in the brain. According to a Harvard study, “blue” light also reduces the overall hours of REM sleep, which is crucial to healthy mental function.

Texting hinders our communication

Texting has become the primary form of communication for most people. People send more texts than they make phone calls.

Much has been made of how text and email communications can rob an exchange of context, but the problem runs deeper than this. New research suggests that texting may be slowly depriving us of our ability to read emotional cues in others.

Such nonverbal, visual cues are a critical component of conversation, and some developmental psychologists worry that a lack of experience with them can be particularly damaging to the social development of young people.

We’re retaining less information

Thanks to Google, we can access more information than ever before. Whilst this is great for writing up research paper or even an argument with a friend (we’ve all been there), it appears to be quite problematic.

Harvard and University of Wisconsin scientists assert in a recent research paper that this has led to the “Google effect“—a tendency for us to treat the Internet as a sort of external hard drive for our brains, requiring us to retain less information.

One of several experiments involved the “cognitive self-esteem” of participants, which is their opinion of their own ability to remember things. The researchers found that using the Internet to find answers to questions provided a boost in cognitive self-esteem similar to that of the participants knowing the answer themselves.

Fake News

The worst way that technology is changing us is undoubtedly fake news.

Fake news sites have come under fire for publishing misleading or outright false stories in the pursuit of clicks. One might think that such easily debunked fake stories could have little impact in the Information Age, but one Stanford study conducted in 2015 dramatically suggests otherwise.

Multiple assessments were made of the ability of middle school, high school, and college students to evaluate the trustworthiness of information online. In one, fully 80 percent of participants failed to differentiate between an article and an advertisement labeled “sponsored content” on the same page.

In another, only 25 percent of students were able to tell a verified Fox News Twitter account from a fake, with over 30 percent arguing for the legitimacy of the phony account because of graphics elements it contained.

This article was extracted from Listverse.com

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