My dad sent me a link to this article today, entitled All Those Tweets, Apps, Updates May Drain Brain in the San Francisco Chronicle. The article outlines how the social media and smart phones we use, including e-mails, chats, tweets, texts, and status updates impede our ability to think critically and remember things in the short term. This study, put on by Stanford University, shows that “persistent multi-taskers perform worse than infrequent ones on tests that require them to jump from task to task. It seems they were more easily distracted by irrelevant information thrown up during the evaluations.”
Perhaps the more pertinent information in regards to our generation is the amount of time kids aged 8-18 spend soaking in entertainment media: an average of about seven and a half hours per day. Considering these elementary, middle, and high school age kids are in school most of the day, this means that these children use social media and entertainment media in school AND go home afterward and spend some more time on social media.
I would assume the case would be worse for college students. As most of us spend about 3-6 hours a day in class, the rest of the day consists of reading blogs, watching TV, playing video games, and tweeting/facebooking/texting during work, nonetheless. To make matters worse, we can access all of this entertainment media and social media through our television sets, school computers, home laptops, iPads, iPods, smart phones, and regular phones. Because we do all of these activities fluidly throughout the day, we are at an even greater risk.
Perhaps “staying connected” all day is not quite what society needs. With risks to brain function, I would say personally that I need to cut down on my social/entertainment media intake. We need to learn to take breaks and limit ourselves. For example, instead of sitting on your computer for hours at a time, take your dog for a walk as a break. There are many other ways you can spend your time outdoors, with your family, or with your actual friends instead of catching status updates from virtual acquaintances.