Learning, the Brain, and Technology

Technology is affecting our brains. It is controlling and enslaving those who have become addicted to ultra smart devices and virtual social networking.

People are drawn into the technology by the potential of short-term rewards. Every contact offers the potential for a social, sexual, or professional opportunity. The mini-reward is like a squirt of dopamine for answering the Pavlov bell.

There is no doubt that many are becoming impulsive.

A recent study at Case Western Reserve University correlated heavy texting and social media use with stress, depression, and suicidal thinking—especially among adolescents.

These depressed youth were the most intense web users, spending more hours on e-mail, chats, video games, and file sharing. They also opened, closed, and switched browser windows more frequently and invested a vast amount of time searching online. 

One summer I worked for the Audio-Visual Center of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The center was a huge complex for purchasing and storing all kinds of audio and visual materials for use by teachers in the second largest school district in the USA. Much of my time was invested in viewing new films to determine whether or not they should be purchased. My experience showed me that many teachers were using these materials as the curriculum.

What was lost is the significant understanding that these materials are merely TOOLS to ENHANCE learning. They are not the curriculum and were never planned to be.

Bringing us to today, it appears that too often technology is having us forget important things in life—moderation, spending face-to-face time with real (rather than with virtual beings) , attending to the physical needs of the body (which is designed for movement), proper diet, and sufficient hours of sleep.

A virtual life is a window; it is not real.

People who become addicted to technology—as with any addiction—are doomed to find themselves victims, rather than victors.