It seems like almost everything we like to do ends up being bad for us, and it turns out using the internet is no different. Despite the amazing benefits that the internet offers us in terms of convenience and easy access to information, there are still some ways in which using the internet is actually kind of bad for your brain. When it comes to internet usage, does the good outweigh the bad, or will all of us internet junkies turn into mindless zombies in a few years?
Research Indicates that the Internet Improves Brain Performance
While it does seem like there is evidence to suggest that the Internet can have a negative impact on the brain, other research suggests that online activity may also have its neurological benefits. In a 2016 study conducted by scientists at UCLA, middle-aged internet users performed better in a “brain performance” test than those of the same age who were not “computer-savvy.” Why? UCLA found that the part of the brain used for complex reasoning and decision-making was positively engaged by internet searches, causing the scientists to believe that this may help stimulate and improve brain functioning as we age. While many of us have heard of doing crossword puzzles and other brain games to improve brain functioning and stave off dementia, this research sure gives us a great excuse to play another game of Candy Crush on the iPad.
Does the Internet Cause Depression?
Along with forgetting things, health studies also show that those who spend a lot of time online are more likely to experience depression. In fact, “Facebook depression” has been a popular news phenomenon that is characterized by feelings of loneliness and depression, often caused by too much time spent looking at impressive pictures and achievements posted on friends’ profiles.
The pro-Internet side uses the “chicken and the egg” argument, states psychologytoday.com, to show that it’s not increased internet usage that causes certain people to become more depressed than others. Individuals who are suffering from depression are more likely to withdraw from social interaction and spend larger amounts of time online, so it’s not the internet’s fault, right? Also, if you’re on the internet all the time, you’re probably not going to be getting as much exercise and fresh air as you really need to be healthy and happy.
Does the Internet Make Things Too Easy for Us?
The internet is a great convenience, but in some ways it makes things too easy for us. While we used to have to think about things and actually come up with answers on our own, today whenever we need answer we just type the question into a search engine and press Enter.
Think about it from a parenting and homework perspective. Because of the internet, a parent today who helps their child do homework really doesn’t have to think as hard as a pre-internet era parent from a couple decades ago. As many parents know, helping children with their homework without the help of the internet is often harder than you might want to admit. Instead of just querying Google, you have to really concentrate and try to remember all of those math equations you learned back in school so many years ago. Hard, isn’t it?
Since the advent of the internet, research from forbes.com indicates that parents are more and more often skipping the brain memory exercises and just plugging in questions to the internet. Using the Internet to find answers to even relatively easy questions your kids have about their homework may lead us to forget more things as a whole, causing some to wonder if the so-called Internet Generation will experience more cases of Alzheimer’s than previous generations.
But there’s always a counter argument. Those who think the web’s a plus argue that the Internet saves us time and allows us to use our brain cells on other more necessary and important challenges. Who is right?
The Internet – Mostly Positive or Mostly Negative?
Like so many things today, using the internet has benefits and disadvantages. The key to living a healthy life is to maintain balance in whatever you do. While we don’t need to completely abandon technology and return to the Stone Age because we are afraid it will make us lazy or depressed, we also don’t need to become a slave to the Internet in the hopes of avoiding dementia. Balance your life with internet use, traditional entertainment and hobbies, real life socializing with others and getting some exercise outdoors. The more balanced you are, the healthier your brain and life will be!
Internet Addiction: Definitely Not Good for the Brain
“Internet addiction” has also become a hot button issue in recent years. For whatever reason, some people have trouble cutting back on internet time, or even claim to experience anxiety or depression when away from their Wi-Fi enabled computer or laptop. While many people will argue that they personally know an internet addict, psychologists are reluctant to classify internet addiction in and of itself as a real mental disorder. In most cases, “internet addicts” are addicted to a specific act involving the Internet like online gambling, which relates more closely to classic addictions. Despite the lack of clear definition, many of us would still claim that there seems to be many Facebook addicts out there. So is the internet really bad for you and your brain?