In iBrain: Surviving the Technical Alteration of the Modern Mind, Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan examine how our use of technology is rewiring our brains.
For those of us who grew up without technology, but who use it now, our brains have adapted in small ways. We’re labeled the Digital Immigrants.
But the neural networks of the Digital Natives’ brains already show signs of being wired much more differently. The Digital Natives, now in their teens and twenties, have never known a world without computers, cell phones, Internet, etc. Early high-tech stimulation has created more than just a generation gap, but also a brain gap.
So the question now is no longer does technology affect the way we think, but rather how much does it affect us? And is that good or bad?
My conclusion after reading the book? There is cause for concern. Especially among youth. Too much of anything can be unhealthy, including too much time spent with a screen. Your brain on Google isn’t pretty. The authors used a reasonable amount of biological lingo to describe the changes, not too technical for a novice to follow, but only if one is so inclined to understand it (I wasn’t).
In addition, the authors also expressed concerns that I could more readily understand and have seen: the high-tech brain wired from youth is also weak in interpersonal skills, which has detrimental effects not only socially, but also politically and economically.
iBrain is organized well, with several informative boxes inserted within each chapter, real-life scenarios, and a few pictures scattered here and there for clarification. If you’re into statistics, you’ll be pleased. There are also several quizzes to evaluate various computer skills, social skills, addictive rankings, etc. Overall, it’s a fairly interesting and informative read.
What will I do with it? Maybe kick both my child and me off the computer a little more often?
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Chapters of interest:
Chapter 1: Your Brain Is Evolving Right Now
Chapter 3: Addicted to Technology
Chapter 4: Technology and Behavior: ADHD, Indigo children, and beyond
Chapter 9: Bridging the Brain Gap: Technology and the future brain