Is the internet changing the way we think?

Do you know how to switch off between searches?


Is the internet changing the way we think?

Professor Susan Greenfield has again weighed into the debate over how prolonged internet use is affecting our brains. She says the 'mind change' brought about by computer use needs urgent research to establish its long-term effects.

"My fear is that these technologies are infantilising the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment,' she told the Mail. Her comments pick up on concerns voiced by Nicholas Carr in his book The Shallows (Atlantic), who points out that search engines are 'driving us to distraction' by sending us off in all kinds of different directions.

Technology is moving faster than neuroscience can monitor its effect on our brains, Carr says. While we all rely on the internet in various ways, we don't yet know what it is doing to our thought processes. But there is no doubt that we should still be creating time for solitary contemplation and deeper thinking. This month’s Psychologies magazine contains an article describing how we can best use our computer time and how to switch off to avoid overload.

Tips in our article 'How to switch off in a switched-on world' include strict control over how often you check social updates. So come on…how many times did you check your email while reading this article?

Photograph: iStock