This is your brain on…

10 06 2010


Dad heard about the media fast I attempted (with so-so results) and in typical fatherly fashion when he feels strongly about something, sent the kids an email with some thoughts/advice. (I’ve always appreciated these emails- even though they often say things I don’t want to hear)

The email had a link to a wonderful New York Times article: Your Brain on Computers – Hooked on Gadgets and Paying a Mental Price

Go read it. Now.

How many of you are multi-taskers?

I know I consider myself a multi-tasker, capable of accomplishing many things at once:
Eating candy
Talking to someone
Texting someone else
Watching a video on YouTube
Watching a TV show in the background

It turns out that my multi-tasking skills aren’t quite as good as I thought.
Odds are, yours aren’t either. (Sorry!)

In fact according to scientists at the University of Utah, only 3% of multi-taskers actually have the mental capacity to truly FOCUS on multiple things at once.

The rest of us are pretending.

And our pretending has actually rewired our brains. (And not in a good way)

We have basically programmed our brains to constantly be searching for stimulation.
New Emails.
Facebook notifications.
YouTube videos.
Twitter updates.
Etc. etc. etc.

The problem is that when you decide to stop multi-tasking your brain doesn’t understand that you’ve stopped and continues operating as if you are still in multi-task mode.

This leads to the inability to truly focus on ANYTHING. Instead, your mind simply wanders in search of stimulus.

“We are exposing our brains to an environment and asking them to do things we weren’t necessarily evolved to do,” he said. “We know already there are consequences.”

I wonder if Heavenly Father ever meant for us to become multi-taskers?

The scriptures don’t talk about people who did 12 projects at the same time.

Instead, we often hear about those individuals who focused, pondered and meditated.

“As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me.” (D&C 138:11)

Think about how your mind works. Are you constantly in search of the next stimulus, or do you find it simple to focus on one topic before moving on to the next?

? Are you a multi-tasker?




One response

12 06 2010

Hahaha, would you believe it took me two days to read the article in full? I refused to close the window and read it in probably 4 or 5 sections. It is true. I’ve drastically cut back on who’s updates show up on my wall b/c really while the kid in my 4th grade class seems nice and all I don’t need to know or care what they are up to. I had about 400 feeds in my feed reader (I typically read 90% of my feeds…) but I removed a bunch and am now down to 266, 109 of which are friends who don’t update regularly). This made it so I couldn’t sit at my computer all day reading things as they came in. Between reducing feeds and facebook updates it enabled me to more easily stay off the computer. I absolutely understand what they are talking about when they feel the pull. I LOVE information and soaking it in. I love knowing what’s going on and where deals are etc. But as we simplify our lives more and more, I hardly purchase things that aren’t food so I don’t need to stay as in touch with things. And until we have the money to start the adoption process, I don’t need to be looking at baby stuff/sales. And I know I don’t multi task well even though I can do it with the best of them. It is hard at times to just sit and read. I’m starting a series of homeschooling books that were published in England in 1905 so the language is different. It is harder to read. I purposely got the original version rather than “modern english” version so that I would have to focus.

I feel like we have an edge up on people b/c we don’t have tvs. But we do have computers and we’ve varied in number of the years but have learned less is better than one for everyone for certain. We need to be in the now. We need to teach our children how to learn things with and without the internet. They need to know how to study things in books without that glorious ctrl-f function to skim with.

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