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Psychological Neuroscience of Digital Distraction

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Sydney Jahnigen

on 26 November 2013

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Transcript of Psychological Neuroscience of Digital Distraction

They Found the Proof

Psychological neuroscience of digital distraction
Research Questions
Can human beings decide when allowing oneself to be distracted is not acceptable?

Is technology distracting humans from sleep?

Is technology disturbing the mind from completing tasks?

Is there any hard data that proves that the mind gets distracted?
Distracting from Sleep
“Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour—making it more difficult to fall asleep,” says Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Distracting from Fulfilling Tasks
Distraction of your Memory
"When faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it” (Betsy Sparrow, Ph.D. 2)
Sydney Jahnigen
What is happening to the brain of someone who uses technology excessively? What cognitive functions are being impaired? Is there any proven evidence to show this?
Losing the ability to focus throughout the day is exactly what I am talking about! Our digital devices ARE destroying are metacognitive skills.
I argue that digital distraction is real and metacognitive skills are being destroyed due to overuse of technology, a point that needs emphasizing since so many people still believe that digital distraction is a myth.
Gotta have that Naysayer!
While on one hand I agree that technology has changed life for a number of good reasons, such as easy communication and effective global networking. But on the other hand, I still insist that the overuse of technology has rewired the way the brain processes.
Crazy, but true!

In 2008, people consumed three times as much information each day as they did in 1960 due to technology.
At home, people consume 12 hours of media a day on average
The average computer user checks 40 websites a day and can switch programs 36 times an hour.
One study conducted at Stanford University showed that heavy multimedia users had trouble filtering out irrelevant information — and trouble focusing on tasks.
In a 15 minute study period, 300 students were only able to focus and stay on task for an average of three minutes at a time and nearly all of their distractions came from technology.
You would think that those heavy media users would be able to juggle many items in their brains, but actually metacognitive skills are being disrupted by technology.
It has been proven that the bright light coming from our technology actually keeps us from good night's sleep.
Bright lights from our technological devices, it seems, are tricking our bodies into thinking it’s daytime because the bright light suppresses melatonin which runs our circadian rhythms.
National Sleep Foundation released a study that looked at the correlation between sleep and electronic devices.
Every time you focus your attention you use a measurable amount of glucose and other metabolic resources, so overusing technology really takes a toll on your mind and prevents you from completing other tasks with the same focus or even at all.
REMEMBER: Metacognition is about being able to decide what to focus on and what not to focus on.

Larry Rosen's study of students in a natural environment studying shows startling results.
People that overuse technology are losing the ability to distinguish what needs to get done; their metacognitive skills are being disturbed. This is shown through these Rosen and Stanford studies.
Stanford study: Round Two!
High multitaskers were doing worse and worse the further they went along because they kept seeing more letters and had difficulty keeping them sorted in their brains.
Works Cited
Eddy, Max. “Study: Bright Screens Ruin Your Sleep.” National Sleep Foundation.
Geekosystem, 8 Mar. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2013

Gorlick, Adam. "Stanford Study: Media Multitaskers pay the mental price ." Stanford
News. 24 Aug 2009: 1-3. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.

Richtel, Matt. “Attached to Technology and Paying the Price.” The New York Times.
The New York Times, 6 June 2010. Web. 20 Nov. 2013
Richtel, Matt. “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction.” The New York Times. The
New York Times, 21 Nov. 2010. Web. 20 Nov. 2013

Rock, David. Your Brain at Work. 1st edition. New York: HarperCollins Publishers,
2009. 102-125. Print.

Rosen, Larry. "Attention Alert: A Study on Distraction Reveals Some Surprises."
Rewired: The Psychology of Technology. Psychology Today, 9 April 2012. Web. 20 Nov. 2013

Sparrow, Besty. "Google Effects on Memory." Science. 14 Jul 2011. Web. 25
Nov. 2013.
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