Let’s do a little experiment: Take a look at your browser tabs. Do have four or more tabs open? Is at least one a social media website? Is another a shopping website? And is another your email? As you are reading this can you feel the tunnel vision coming on from collectively spending at least eight hours a day emailing, shopping, tweeting and processing? Never fear – you are not alone. You, like many others, are part of an up and coming web connected generation who spends billions – yes billions- of hours on the Internet each month. And as it it turns out, it is actually making us pretty darn stupid.
In the early Internet days, typically we were browsing a single website at a time and completing what we needed to before moving on. Today, the average person is not taking in just one web experience at a time, but several. More often than not, we have at least five tabs open, cycling our way through a variety of Internet tasks without fully focusing on a single task at hand. Most of the time, when we are online trying to complete something important (homework, pay bills, work related searches) we combine that experience with something not so important (online games, social media and shopping). On average, users switch between tabs every couple minutes! So now, what would have normally taken only a short time to complete will take you five times longer! Not so productive huh?
As much as multi-tasking is considered healthy and even in most circumstances, when it comes to the Internet, the opposite is actually true. Online multi-tasking doesn’t positively exercise our brains, but actually raises stress levels and reduces creative thinking. Even worse, heavy Internet multi-taskers are about three times more likely to suffer from depression. Yikes!
We can thank Google for pretty much replacing our brains. Information we gain on the Internet is rarely stored to the memory these days. Before when resources were limited, we pretty much HAD to remember what we learned. But now that we know that information isn’t going anywhere. It’s on our computers, our mobile phones and on our tablets FOREVER! I mean, why store data to your brain when you can just go look it up again right? These days it is not so important to remember the actual information, but to remember where to find it!
According to recent studies, constant surfing actually reduces the white matter in our brains, which is basically responsible for our memory and sensory abilities. If you think that is scary, check out this infographic from our friends at ForensicPsychology.net. Then, please take a break from the Internet!