Thursday, February 5, 2015

This Is Your Brain on Technology

The human brain edited to have electrical currents.
(By Allan Ajifo; CC License)
Many people are having debates or critical thoughts on whether the amount of technology we use and media we consume is good for us. As technology is advancing and becoming more and more available to us, we question whether or not it is actually beneficial. Many people think that it is helpful, but there are some who think that technology will create a race of incapable humans that will be controlled by supercomputers. These kinds of people are generally the authors of science fiction novels. I think that technology has a positive effect on people because of the large amount of information we are able to access quickly as well as allowing us to more easily understand this information.

I believe this to be true because studies have found that teaching with methods that use technology have enhanced skills that are taught in the classroom. Some researchers have found that during The Reporter Project, the use of technology by sixth graders allowed these students to acquire better information gathering skills as well as writing skills such as recognizing the use of main ideas and supporting details. I remember learning these skills in elementary school and dreading it because I could never understand what the teacher was trying to get me to comprehend. Many studies have showed that the vocabulary and other language skills had improved while using methods through technology to teach these things (O’Hara). Now I think that these basic skills that we are taught to learn would be so much easier because of the technology we have, as well as the studies and data that proves it is easier.

Another reason I support this idea is that technology not only allows skills to be developed better, but it allows new things to be learned as well. Studies have found that people between the ages of eighteen and forty-nine have said that technology has helped them to learn new things (Purcell). The fact that this age group is most likely to have said that they have learned things through the internet and technology only makes sense. It makes sense because these are the people who use it and understand it the best. Yes, people under this age understand technology quite well, they just tend to lack the ability to use it in an efficient way. I mean you see phones glued to the hands of high school students, but I don’t think it would be appropriate to assume that they are using it to research so that they can find the cure to cancer because I assure you they most likely are not. Although they may not be using their smartphone to better humanity, they are bettering themselves because while scrolling through all that social media, there are some informative bits in there. People also think as a whole that students and the American public are more well informed.

People may disagree with this because scientists have found that technology has links to negative behavior. Neuroscientist Susan Greenfield stated that “Electronic devices and pharmaceutical drugs all have an impact on the microcellular structure and complex biochemistry of our brains. And that, in turn, affects our personality, our behaviour and our characteristics. In short, the modern world could well be altering our human identity.” She goes on in her article about the pros and cons of technology today as well as pharmaceutical drugs on the brain. The brain is an ever changing organ, creating new synapses each and every day. It has been known for a long time that the brain is constantly changing because of the environment around it, but this constant reconstruction, however, may be wrongly influenced by what we view through technology and the amount of it (Greenfield). If we spend X many hours in front of the television, computer, smartphone, etc. per day, just punch some numbers into a calculator and you see that we spend so much time with our eyes occupied by a screen.

I disagree with this because we constantly consume so much, but if we consume the right things, there isn’t a problem. Yes, there should be a bit more regulation on what and how much people see, but if we use technology in a positive way, there isn’t a reason to worry about creating negative outcomes on the brain. People need to regulate their time on a screen as well as actually communicate with the outside world instead of just typing it and sending it with an animated face that adds a bit of personality to the media.

Technology and the internet have an overall positive effect on the way people learn and consume information. Using technology in teaching curriculums can actually improve the skills that are being taught (O’Hara). The internet also allows tons of new information to be accessed and allows people to learn knew things on their own without being formally taught. This includes, but is not limited to, the random Google searches people do when they hear something that sparks their interest. Granted, they may not be getting the correct information, but they are learning something new. Overall, I think that technology can have a positive footprint, as long as we are using it in ways that are appropriate. For me, it helps me to get connected with the world outside of my small community as well as allow me to get things like school work done. This new era of automation may not lead to the end of humanity as science fiction writers may think.

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Conclusion, updated 04 March 2015

I think that I did create content that was interesting enough to keep a reader's attention as well as thought provoking. It not only provoked thoughts of my readers, but my own thoughts as well. I started working on this in a different mindset; I was for the opposing view. But after I had done my initial research, I changed my opinion. I also learned so much about not only this, but human behavior as well as a bit more on the operation of the brain. I don’t think that my point of adding the pharmaceutical drugs to the mix made sense (I knew what I was meaning to say, but I don’t think I conveyed it quite right), however I got amazing feedback and managed to clarify that not only for my readers but for myself as well. I didn’t change my own opinion when writing this or when interacting with my readers, but I am glad to know that I provided a little bit of information for them and have changed some other people’s opinions. I think that overall this was a good experience, long at times, but worth it. I had been thinking about writing a blog for a long time, and getting this little taste of it made me see what it is really like to be behind the scenes of this amazing process. I have also learned that there is a lot more than I thought that goes into a well written, informative blog. I did, however enjoy the experience. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go through and understand this process.

Bibliography

11 comments:

  1. Hi, km! I enjoyed reading your viewpoint on the positive versus negative aspects of technology, km. I do wonder whether the quality of the time is actually more important than the time spent online, which for children is roughly 7 hours per day. I read an article in Psychology Today that states it is the time of the interaction that has serious negative implications for the brain--atrophy and volume loss, which affect the brain's structure and function What do you think about the overall time children and teens spend interacting with technology, even if much of that time is on "the right things?" Thank you, km, for raising the issue of the brain and technology in your post.--Ms. Riche

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    1. Hello Ms. Riches, thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog post. I think that the amount of time youth spend on technology is worrying in the eyes of parents, but in my opinion it is a good learning tool, when it is being used correctly. I also think, however positive the content is, that youth are growing up lacking certain social skills that one wouldn't acquire if they spend too much time using technology. The neurologist in my post, Susan Greenfield, agrees with me on this. She thinks that technology is getting rid of attributes that make us "human." Anyway, thanks again for taking time out of your day to read this. -km

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  2. Hi there! I really enjoyed reading your blog! It was great, because I had such a different view on how technology affects us, I saw some other positive effects that it has had! I really like how you capitalized on the fact that it has really made an impact on our schools and the various methods of education. I think that we could even take it a step further and wonder how has the media, and technology in general affect the wellbeing of society. An article from the New York Times suggests that when those who use technology try to detach from their given devices, they feel bored whereas when they do have the presented technology the brain produces dopamine which excited the person. Is it going too far, now that our brains are being permanently altered because of technology? I being a Digital Citizen would be interested to see whether or not I would be the same person without all of our high tech devices! Thanks for sharing such a interesting idea! -Helen

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    1. Hi Helen! I'm glad that you read my post and even more excited that you enjoyed it. I appreciate that you could see the point that I was really emphasizing on, as well as that I changed your point of view a little bit on the subject. I also agree with you on discovering the affect on society in general. I think that technology does have an impact on society, however it varies for each person. I think that it kind of is going to far for our happiness to rely on some metal and silicon. I agree with being interested in seeing how different of a person I would be without all of this stuff to constantly check. Thanks again! -km

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  3. Good job km on writing about such an interesting topic. I agree with you that technology is becoming more and more important in our daily lives. Myself and countless others use technology to communicate, stay up to date with things going on, and to interact with one another. If anything, automated technology in our daily lives helps us progress farther. One thing that left me confused was the cons of electronic devises and pharmaceutical drugs and their impact on the human brain. What do drugs have to do with this topic and how do they affect the negative data you have collected? You also say that you think and believe your point of view is correct because of these reasons; do the main points that you have highlighted prove your point of view as correct, or are you stating why you approve one side over the other?

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    1. Sorry, I accidentally hit publish before I was finished. Anyway, well done on discussing the way that technology affects the human brain.

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    2. Greetings Jim Raynor! Thank you for reading my post. I agree with you that technology is becoming very important for just being in the know with things going on locally as well as globally. The cons of technology and drugs are a bit confusing, I agree with that statement, but in short, they are basically are seen as something that controls our behavior. Scientists think that this is especially present when having withdrawals from these things, which we have known there are some behavioral side effects to drugs for as long as they have been around. With the drugs, I was just using it as another example, so for those who think technology is all bad, there are other things that are viewed in the same way. I think that the disagreement to this supports my opinion because yes there are some behavioral changes that technology creates, however these changes allow us to crave this ever changing world and we want to learn new things because of this. This proving that technology betters us because we want to expand our knowledge, as I had mentioned in my post. Thank you for such though provoking questions, they really challenged me to dig through my opinion and made me actually understand my viewpoint better. Thanks! -km

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  4. Hi km, I enjoy your article and I agree with your point that "technology is advancing and becoming more and more available to us", actually, I've seen many articles about brains like "this is your brain on drugs". But I came up with a question for you, how do you think technology is going to change our brain? Will we be able to know everything without studying?Do you think it's a good thing or bad thing?
    Thank you

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    1. Hello! Thank you for reading and I am glad that you enjoyed it. The "This Is Your Brain on Drugs" thing actually started in 1987 to get US citezens to stop taking narcotics (drugs that affect behavior) and I thought that title matched my topic because I talked a lot about education and knowledge, which has a huge affect on behavior as well as directly talking about behavior. I think that technology will allow our brain capcity to be larger as well as we will be able to recall information easier. I do think that there is a possibility, not in the near future, to be able to remember information for things such as tests without having to go over it prior to the thing happening. I think that it is a good thing just because people won't waste as much time trying to learn or remember things so that they could use their time to do things that they please. Thank you again for reading. -km

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  5. Thanks km for sharing your opinion about technology. I agree with you that technology gives us benefits and. It makes more information access to us and makes everything easier. I remember when I first started using computer, I could not believe that I can search everything I want just through a browser, and I was able to communicate with my friends very easily. Technology really makes my life more convenient. As your article says, it will not be any negative aspects if we use or spend our time effectively. There's a question that I'd like to ask. I notice that there are more and more apps that can help us organize and plan our life. Do you think those are good ideas that can replace our traditional methods? Thanks again.

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    1. Hi Shining W! It is amazing the things we can access isn't it? What I think to be more amazing now are smartphones because they are basically computers, but they are the size of your hand. I mean look up computers from the 1960s on, it is amazing how far we have some with this. I think that those applications make it easier yes, but I do think they prohibit time management skills. For me, I think that would be so much easier to have those, but knowing when to go to practice, do my homework, and still manage to have a social life is really important to me. As a whole, I think that is an ingenious idea, but I think for younger people, the traditional methods are more beneficial towards life skills now and later. Thank you for reading my post. -km

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