How the Internet Is Affecting Our Brains
When researchers presented evidence to people that the internet causes addiction, depression, and psychological discombobulation, they resounded,“‘What’s next? Microwave abuse and Chapstick addiction’” (Dokoupil). Truthfully, people find the evidence impossible to fathom. The Internet allows us to instantly access the business world, keep in touch with our friends, and make our work easier. It would seem that the benefits would far outweigh any problems. Serious problems, however, can occur to Internet users when they use the Internet far too much.
Evidence shows that excessive Internet use can damage people’s intelligence, hinder relations and cause depression, and can impose on people a virtual world or an altered sense of reality. Empirical evidence shows that excessive Internet use damages our intelligence. According to Carr, in “Is Google Making Us Stupid? ,” studies show that over time, Internet users read differently by skimming over passages, reading only the first several pages of articles, and browsing quickly through information without taking the time and the effort to comprehend what they read.
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Carr cites studies showing that reading on the internet alters circuits in the brain that causes people to become decoders of information, losing capacity to deeply think about the subjects they read. The cause is the internet’s business world. Google and other companies attempt to feed people as much information as possible so that they can gain opportunities to give out advertisements and distract people into buying them.
Thus, the net scatters people’s attention over a wide area of information and makes their concentration fuzzy. This huge business network, as it increasingly governs peoples’ lives, causes them to act like mechanical beings, with a fixed schedule, who monotonously absorb loads of information without actually gaining intelligence. Over time, people lose the cognitive skills to concentrate and think deeply about subjects. In extreme cases, excessive internet use can severely damage our brains. In “Is the Web Driving Us Mad? ” Dokoupil writes about a study performed in China that showed that internet addicts’ brains looked like the brains of drug addicts, containing “‘abnormal white matter’” and permanently deteriorating the parts of the brain that deal with memory, speech and motor control. Dokoupil further adds that internet use has caused people to act impulsively-OCD and ADHD rates have steeply risen in the past few years. Excessive Internet use causes people to scatter their attention over too much information and lose the capacity to comprehend and concentrate.
In extreme cases, excessive use even causes permanent brain damage and compulsive disorders. In addition to hindering our intelligence, excessive internet use also sucks us in, causing depression and hindering our relations with others. Research shows that excessive internet use can derail people’s relations with real people and in turn, cause depression. In “Is the Web Driving Us Mad? , Dokoupil writes that internet use takes up large amounts of time, leaving less time for sleep, motion, and meeting other people.
Dokoupil cites a study showing that excessive Web use can cause solitude and loneliness as people trade the time to spend with friends in the real world with friends on social media sites that they have never met. Dokoupil writes that mothers breastfeed their babies while texting and parents who use the internet too much tend to neglect their children. As too much use of the internet eats up time, people lose the opportunity to spend time with the people they truly care about and push them away.
Dokoupil uses examples: a couple neglected their baby while pretending to care for a virtual baby on the internet; another young man killing his mother for telling him to leave the computer. Some people spend so much time on the internet that they feel like they do not want to be apart of the real world anymore and become depressed when they are. Then, for depressed people the internet works as a drug; the more people become depressed, the more they wish to escape the real world to go on the internet, in turn causing even more depression over time.
Some people lose their sense of reality and live in a virtual world dominated by the internet. Excessive internet use imposes on people a virtual world or in an altered reality. In “The Moral Benefits of Facebook,” Baker explains the appeal. Facebook, a type of internet use, provides a world of communication that is risk-free and safe. On facebook people usually post positive images and share positive information, creating a virtual world of bliss and happiness. Even when people post negative information, others tend to comfort them.
People may grow accustomed to this risk-environment, however, and wrongfully apply it to the real world, becoming unaware that people must take risks and sometimes risk their safety to grow and develop. Over time, people may hide from the risky real world and turn instead to the world of facebook, one of virtual felicity. In a cartoon, Scott Adams depicts a man with a completely altered sense of reality from addiction to the internet. In the comic strip, the man tells a doctor that the internet is more interesting than people and asks the doctor to give everybody else a pill that makes them more interesting.
Unaware that no such pill exists, the man believes that the real world operates as the web does, where a simple click will give a person satisfaction. The man also speaks to his dog that the doctor does not want to treat the real problem, not realizing that a dog has no way of understanding what the man is saying. In this way, the man holds an altered sense of reality in his mind. Extreme cases of virtual reality from the internet have occurred. In “Is the Web Driving Us Mad? ,” Dokoupil gives an example of a depressed man keeping more in touch with four virtual identities in the internet than he does in the real world.
Dokoupil writes that as some people grow depressed, they tend to turn to the internet as a virtual world, an escape, where life happens the way they want it to. Significant literature clearly shows that excessive internet use can harm people’s intelligence, cause depression and hurt relations with others, and impose a world of virtual or an altered sense of reality. Though the internet gives many opportunities, it does pose grave complications and harmful effects when overused. Obviously, we will continue to use it, but we should also acknowledge the damaging effects of the internet if it completely dominates our lives.