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How Social Media is Rewiring the Human Brain

Molecular Thoughts
Molecular Thoughts

Molecular Thoughts


The way we consume information effects our brains. This is not science fiction but the result of several studies of the effect of social media on the brain. There is a deep concern that the these changes may cause problems with concentration and that the younger generation will be “less likely to undertake deep, critical analysis of issues and challenging information.”

There is worry that this could also lead to problems with obesity, a need for instant gratification, lack of conversational skills, inability to analyse and problems with a sense of self. One of the effects of social media is the need to build a profile and create an online persona status that can seem narcissistic.

It is not just teens and twenty somethings that are risk but they are at risk the most.  This is because according to research their brains are still developing and will not be fully cognitive until 25+. Predictions on ways that technology is affecting teens is still ongoing.

Taken from the mind development stages by Dr Gregory Mitchell:

For most people Fluid Intelligence ceases to develop after the age of about twenty and starts to fall after the age of 25, unless an appropriate intervention is made to continue the mind’s active development. On the other hand, many dimensions of Crystallized Intelligence typically continue to develop throughout the life span, particularly in the individual’s chosen domain of work experience. But this can limit the individual to a perspective within narrow boundaries; creativity and wisdom demand a much wider perspective, in which a range of domains are interlinked.

A recent study from Elon University and Pew Internet, gathered research from over 1,000 stakeholders and 2,000 participants stated that “Teen brains are being rewired to adapt to the new information-processing skills they will need to survive in this environment.”

Susan Price, CEO and chief Web strategist at Firecat Studio and an organizer of TEDx in San Antonio, Texas, paints a more optimistic scenario:

“Those who bemoan the perceived decline in deep thinking or engagement, face-to-face social skills and dependency on technology fail to appreciate the need to evolve our processes and behaviors to suit the new reality and opportunities. Young people and those who embrace the new connectedness are developing and evolving new standards and skills at a rate unprecedented in our history.”

The good news is that in some ways this may be of benefit. As people will no longer be reliant on memorising and accumulating fact based knowledge the changes in cognitive processing may enable people to process information faster with greater cognitive abilities.

For anyone over 25 who is consuming social media and living and breathing digital there are changes happening as well. People who are adopters and learners will gain as well. The study points that some people will coast and be left behind as laggards. There are predictions also around for the development of new value structures away from “nostalgic items” towards a shift for new, novel and an experience led culture.

“People of all ages are adjusting to a world where ‘facts’ are immediately discoverable, and judgment between competing facts becomes a primary skill.”

Read the results of the study here.Thanks for reading please share or leave a comment!

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