Digital_Nation

“The point is to be our most creative selves, not to distracted ourselves to death.”

The clip above is a trailer for Frontline’s, “digital_nation: life on the virtual frontier.” I watched digital_nation for class recently, and it’s really interesting! I highly suggest others to watch it. I thought Chapter 2: What’s It Doing to Their Brains? was particularly interesting.

In my undergrad studies, I learned a lot about how there is no such thing as multitasking. It’s just a switch between one task to another. You typically cannot actually do two things at once. Good “multitaskers” just switch quickly between tasks. To read more about it, check out this research article: Multitasking- 2001- Strayer _ Johnston. Some researchers are trying to figure out what is going on in the brain when a person tries to multitask. The Frontline video’s research is in agreement with the my undergraduate studies saying, “Classic psychology tells us that it’s impossible; the brain can’t do it.”

Some specially chosen students on Stanford’s campus were chosen for a small study. Professor Nass studied how quickly these students could switch between tasks without losing focus. The students were really confident of their multitasking skills. The test results showed otherwise. These students who were chosen because they constantly are “multitasking” aren’t actually as good at it as they think.

I am well aware of my inabilities to switch tasks quickly. I get so distracted in between. I work much better when I focus on one thing until I get it done and then switch to the next thing. I think more people would be productive if they did things this way, but they don’t want to miss out on what’s going on in their email, text messages, social media, etc.

Professor Nass believes this idea of multitasking is “creating people who are unable to think clearly and well.”I’m guilty of trying to multitask; I love checking my email, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever else while trying to complete an assignment. I agree that it is so difficult to think clearly when my brain is all over the place, trying to do so many things at once. It takes me so much longer to get something done than if I had just focused on my assignment for a time, and then went and checked my other things.

Digital media is changing the way we live as human beings. Frontline claims that kids are spending as many as 50 hours a week on digital media. That’s more than a typical 40-hour work week! According to Frontline, there is only one scientist, Dr. Small, who has examined the impact of the Internet on our brains. He says that the brain is twice as active while doing an Internet search than while reading a book. Dr. Small says that when it comes to the brain, using more of it is not necessarily better.  Dr. Small thinks that using the Internet is “risky” like drinking and gambling. He says that it’s addictive. More researchers need to take the time to study how the Internet and technology effects the brain. Unfortunately, the research cannot keep up with changing technology.

I definitely think technology should be used in moderation. I can definitely see how the Internet can be addictive, I know that for myself, too much of it really hurts my eyes. My eyes get so dry and actually get really uncomfortable when I’ve spent too much time in front of my computer or iPad. I definitely think that like with all things, we should use technology in moderation. Too much of any good thing is a bad thing.

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