Are “Smart” Phones Making Our Brains “Dumb”?

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

woman on smart phone

Why bother remembering something when the world wide web of instant information is at our fingertips? We don’t need to pay attention to minute details that don’t matter to us individually because out in the communications collective of the online people have made that information available. Anytime we need to learn something, remember something, or look something up, we no longer have to access the filing cabinets of our stored memory, but the memory files of pages on the internet.

It’s called the Google Effect, the cognitive digital amnesia taking place in our minds as we become more dependent on technology to supply our knowledge and brainpower for us. Some people claim that our dependence on technology gives us the ability to be more efficient and productive. In the material world of work, productivity and efficiency are key to being able to operate at an optimized level of our humanity. Others, however, argue that our cognitive reliance on technology is hurting our human abilities by making our brains lazier and less capable.

Mindful writes on the subject, explaining that the more reliant we become on technology for our cognitive functions the weaker they become- specifically the memory. Our memory is affected because we aren’t using it as often. “That’s because memories’ physical embodiment in the brain is essentially a long daisy chain of neurons,” the article explains. “The very act of retrieving a memory therefore makes it easier to recall next time around. If we succumb to LMGTFY (let me Google that for you) bait, which has become ridiculously easy with smartphones, that doesn’t happen.” As a result, we lose our sense of creativity, we find it difficult to participate in activities which might be boring or lack in stimulation, and our distractibility worsens. Overall, our mental health declines because we aren’t using our brain in the right way.

For people recovering from mental illness, the smartphone is a challenging task. On the one hand, a smartphone can provide access to many apps which provide support, guidance, and connection for recovery. On the other hand, smart phones give us access to the wrong people, social media where we can waste ample amounts of time, and a new form of distraction, dopamine production, and an unproductive coping mechanism to deter us from authentically processing our emotions.


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